Thinly sliced: House Republicans use farm bill to squash Congressional action on war in Yemen
This is the web version of a list we publish twice-weekly in our newsletter. It comprises the most noteworthy food stories of the moment, selected by our editors. Get it first here.
Quid pro status quo. The House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved the two chambers’ farm bill compromise, 369-47. The Senate held its vote on Tuesday, passing the legislation with similarly wide margins. Now the bill, which largely preserves the status quo, is ready for the president’s signature. Ahead of Wednesday’s vote, House Republicans successfully snuck through a provision that prevents Congress from voting to limit U.S. support of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. That provision passed by a hair—206-203—and may scuttle any Congressional action on Yemen until 2019.
Bad beef. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Thursday announced that the number of people sickened by the ongoing outbreak of foodborne illness resulting from Salmonella-tainted beef had risen to 333. Last week, we reported that JBS, the world’s largest meat processor, was recalling an additional 5 million pounds of ground beef after an October recall took 7 million pounds off the market.
Cauliflower power. Grubhub, the food delivery giant that owns Seamless, has published a list of its top 10 food orders of 2018. Like Spotify’s Wrapped recap, it provides a snapshot of what people want—a portrait of our collective tastes at large. One big takeaway? Eaters are gravitating away from red meat and leaning heavily on chicken dishes, which compose half of the list. But the rising star and dark horse of the year is really cauliflower: Buffalo cauliflower came in at 10th place for most popular dish, and cauliflower as a rice substitute saw a 155 percent increase in demand. Plants may be taking names in the grocery store, but this goes to show that they’re making power moves in delivery as well.
A tale of two restaurant empires a year after #MeToo. In March, a former manager at Mike Isabella’s restaurant group filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the D.C.-based chef. Since then, more accusers have come forward and associated restaurants began to suffer economically. Now—a little over a year since the #MeToo movement emerged—Isabella’s empire is folding for good, Washingtonian magazine reports. The restaurant groups saw a significant decline in revenues over the past year, which Isabella blames on “negative press.”
Meanwhile, a different story is playing out under similar circumstances over at B&B Hospitality, the restaurant group founded by chef Mario Batali and business partner Joe Bastianich. Last December, Eater published a story detailing numerous allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Batali. Since then, Grub Street reports, business has fallen by 30 percent, according to Bastianich, and the B&B Hospitality Group has faced a number of restaurant closings. However, many of its joints are still in business, and since negotiations to buy Batali out from B&B Hospitality have stalled, the chef continues to profit off of eaters. If we are what we eat, what does the endurance of restaurants helmed by accused sexual predators say about us?
Branded fruit in a bag. Swag. Say goodbye to branded sunglasses and hello to branded fruit flesh. According to a recent story from Fast Company, companies looking to advertise with free swag, historically in the form of branded sunglasses, t-shirts, keychains, and koozies, may have found a tastier and more functional way to embed their logos into your lives and minds: fruit embossed with company logos. If it sounds like a joke, you’ll be slightly comforted to find out that that is precisely how the company, simply known as Branded Fruit, began.