Thinly sliced: Air Force One buys $24 million fridges, workers file lawsuit against blueberry farm, and more

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.

30,000 feet up and you are not invited. Onto Air Force One, that is. But as a taxpayer, you are invited to foot the bill for its new refrigerators, which will cost almost $24 million. Why the hefty price tag? Because they’re not your regular ol’ Maytag appliances. Air Force One planes are required to store 3,000 meals in their refrigerators, and they’re custom designed for the Boeing planes that house them, Defense One reports. The current coolers haven’t been replaced since 1990, and they’re just not as chill as they used to be. Still, the taxpayer bill has us so appalled.

Meanwhile, under the sea. For-profit media is dying, but don’t worry—Buzzfeed has a plan. Food companies are paying the site to plug their products on Tasty, its vertical devoted to simple, shareable recipe videos, Econsultancy reports. Soon you’ll start to see Buzzfeed branding on food packaging, according to Seafood News (paywall), such as the “As seen on Tasty” label now displayed on SeaPak frozen shrimp scampi. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

And in the fields. Meanwhile, The Stranger reports on a lawsuit filed in Washington state, alleging that more than 600 foreign guestworkers with H-2A visas faced horrific conditions on a blueberry farm, including insufficient food and medical care, as well as threats of deportation. In a statement, Saraband Farms and its parent company, Munger Brothers, denied any wrongdoing.

And on the farms. Undocumented workers are very vulnerable to exploitation in the workplace, which has led to a sexual harassment epidemic on American farms, The Atlantic reports.

And in the (policy) weeds. Harder-nosed federal immigration enforcement has continued to spawn labor shortages. U.S. News and World Report looks at how a dearth of H-2A visas is playing out in Florida’s $8 billion agricultural industry.

And in the heartland. The New York Times links farm equipment company mergers to lower pay in the heartland.

And lastly, in the city. Five years ago, Mission Chinese Food was a slapdash operation on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the second outpost of a restaurant which had first opened in the Mission District of San Francisco. In his review for the New York Times, restaurant critic Pete Wells described encountering pulsating music, searing hot Sichuanese culinary adaptations, and a keg of free beer by the door at the joint. Since its conception, the restaurant has found a new location, shorn up its operations, and upgraded its interiors—in the most fun(gi) way possible. A futuristic-looking mushroom installation is now being housed in the restaurant, which then harvests the ‘shrooms for its menu offerings, Vogue reports. The contraption is a product of Smallhold, a Brooklyn-based startup that designs miniature mushroom and greens farms. One order of utilitarianism and indoor farming, with a side of ma pao tofu, please.

The Counter Stories by our editors.