Thinly sliced: Fast food companies compete in a value menu war, Corn in the U.S.A., 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.

1. Whether you think of December 21 as the shortest day or longest night of the year, around here we’re calling it “Feelsday”—a grim 2017 solstice, during which we’ll just go ahead and eat our feelings until we no longer feel them. If you desire a more seasonally-appropriate and optimistic repast, Extra Crispy has your guide to popular solstice foods from around the globe. But c’mon, be honest: Sicily’s dreary-sounding wheatberry pudding or a pile of cauliflower tater tots and a sweet vermouth chaser? Yep, us too.

2. America’s corn harvest is big. Like, really big: If the Corn Belt covered the Northeast instead, it’d be the size of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington D.C., combined. That’s according to Bloomberg’s Wednesday story on our corn syrup addiction. We produce enough of the stuff, in fact, to drown the entire state of New Jersey in a sea of gooey yellow gold. Springsteen shoulda called it “Corn in the U.S.A.”

3. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week released its 2017 inspection data. The three most commonly cited food safety violations, in order of frequency? Failure to protect food from pest contamination, inadequate monitoring of sanitation, and poor facility cleanliness. Read the data at your own risk.

4. Harper’s brings us inside the rarely seen world of Amazon fulfillment centers with Camperforce, a mini-documentary about the seasonal recruitment of an unorthodox workforce: elderly, nomadic RV owners.

5. Dollar dollar bill, y’all: There’s a new, low-cost “$1 $2 $3 menu” at McDonald’s, which CNNMoney reports is the latest volley in a value menu war among fast food chains.

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