Thinly sliced: FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb peaces out

Scott Gottlieb at the podium
Scott Gottlieb at the podium FDA

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.

Gottlieb, gone. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb resigned on Tuesday afternoon. Sources told CNBC that he plans to spend more time with his family. Read our story from October on how he became an unexpected ally in advancing Obama-era food policy.

Perdue, still here. Meanwhile, the other Cabinet member responsible for food, Sonny Perdue, is making the rounds in the 116th Congress, promoting USDA’s agenda for farmers. During his first meeting with the new Senate Agriculture Committee, the Secretary discussed trade, tariffs, and rolling out a $600-million rural broadband pilot without relying on the FCC’s notoriously faulty broadband maps, which he called “fake news.” Route Fifty has the story.

Jailhouse diet. You already know that prison food is bad. But what happens when inmates say enough is enough? Mother Jones has a quick look at the protests and food strikes that have forced prison officials to provide better, more nutritious, and healthier food options.

Fat chance. For those of you still recovering from Olestra—the notorious fat substitute introduced by P&G in the 1990s that sullied chips and crackers under the brand name Olean—and its extremely messy gastrointestinal effects, there may be promising news. Food Navigator reports that Epogee Foods, maker of a new substitute actually made from fat (Olestra was a sucrose molecule esterified with fatty acids) has secured $8.3 million to produce the product at commercial scale. No word yet on whether Epogee will be as effective for use in self-delusion as Olestra was. Oh, it was almost worth it….

Brick-and-mortar: Bezos’s bae? Amazon is reportedly launching a new grocery chain, The Wall Street Journal reports—one that will be “distinct” in its branding from Whole Foods. According to WSJ, the first of the new stores will be opening soon, possibly even before the end of 2019. It’s just the latest effort in Amazon’s aggressive push into brick-and-mortar. The company seems to have realized that physical retail does some things better than e-commerce—and that the future is likely to blend aspects of the two.

New science, old party trick. Despite the proliferation of microwaved-grape experiments posted on the internet, scientists have not (until recently) researched why grapes explode and create a plasma-like substance when exposed to microwave radiation—or whether the experiment has any practical applications, reports The New York Times. Thanks to a professor in Ontario and some very unassuming undergraduates, scientists now know that the water in a grape can harness radiation, which is perfectly contained in grape flesh, until it becomes too hot to handle. And then, yes, it explodes. But about that practical application…. dunno.

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