Thinly sliced: The Food Network is making viewers less healthy, beef thief gets 50 years in prison, 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.
Wine-oh! Generally, we’re pretty casual with our French. A je ne sais quoi here, a little rendezvous there… but what if the name of that fancy à la carte organic wine translated to “Big Titties” or “Panty Remover”? Bon appétit no more. Punch Magazine uncovers the sexist labels that are becoming increasingly common in the natural winemaking world. These labels, which feature sexually provocative names and images, are coming under scrutiny for their exclusive sexualization of women and how they reflect the inside jokes and “sophomoric” humor of the small natural winemaking industry.
Bacteria to basics. It’s no surprise that plants, like humans, thrive best with a healthy microbiome. By studying how bacteria can be used to improve crop yields, agricultural technology startups like Indigo are trying to eliminate the use of pesticides and GMO seeds in conventional agriculture. What with the increasing demand for all things “natural,” Bloomberg writes, there’s a lot of potential—once the initiative gets past traditional, Big Ag-opposed farmers and corporations like Monsanto.
The Fat Network. The Food Network once taught us how to distinguish kale from chard. Turn to the channel today, however, and you’ll be bombarded with close shots of greasy, gluttony goodness—”goodness,” that is, for the lovers of caloric indulgence among us—that is a far cry from the more ‘healthful’ origins of the network. Sound delicious? The truth isn’t so sweet. As Buzzfeed reports, while viewers of Food TV are led to believe that food is better to watch—and to eat—when it’s bigger, more indulgent, and more gluttonous, it’s, gasp, also putting their health at risk.
Pancake, disrupted. What happens when an activist investor puts Aunt Jemima in its crosshairs? We’ll find out soon. Jana Partners—that’s the hedge fund that held a large stake in Whole Foods just before it was sold to Amazon—has purchased a 9.1 percent stake in Pinnacle Foods, Food Dive reports. Pinnacle owns several familiar brands including Duncan Hines, Smart Balance, Mrs. Butterworth’s, Aunt Jemima and others. With its new leverage, Jana may push for a sale.
Getting her fill. Roxane Gay, author of the memoir Hunger, is editing a Medium series that explores the relationships we have with our bodies. In this article, Gay writes candidly about her recent bariatric (i.e. weight loss) surgery and how, after all the Gatorade, soft foods, and weight lost during years of struggling with her body in a society obsessed with being small, she’s come to feel both the fullest and emptiest she’s ever been.
Beef bandit. And now, the most Texas thing ever: A fajita thief has been sentenced to 50 years in prison in the Lone Star State, The Brownsville Herald reports. Gilberto Escamilla, a former employee of a juvenile detention center in Cameron County, pleaded guilty to stealing $1.2 million dollars worth of fajitas over the course of nine years. Things unraveled last August, when a delivery driver showed up with his regular shipment—only to be told the facility hadn’t ordered any fajitas, and had never served them to the residents. According to Texas Monthly, Escamilla wasn’t eating those 800-pound deliveries himself—he used them to ensconce himself as a black market skirt steak kingpin. “It was selfish. It started small and got bigger and out of control,” Escamilla said during his testimony. “It got to the point where I couldn’t control it anymore.”
Work. A few weeks ago, Republicans in the House unveiled a farm bill that included a giant overhaul of the SNAP program which centered on job training for people using food stamps. Helena Bottemiller Evich penned the most nuanced take yet for Politico on Tuesday. But amping up “training capacity for as many as 3 million people so quickly would be roughly equivalent to building almost half the existing U.S. community college system from scratch,” she writes.