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.
Measuring Michael. Hurricane Michael collided with the Southeast U.S. last week, killing at least 26 people. And now, states have also started to release preliminary estimates of the agricultural toll. The verdict? Devastation, especially in Georgia, Alabama, and on the Florida Panhandle.
Georgia Agricultural Commissioner Gary W. Black said Michael was the state’s most “widespread and [destructive] hurricane in recollection” for the sector, with major losses in crops, livestock, and agricultural infrastructure. As of last Thursday, 84 chicken houses storing some 2 million birds had been destroyed. A “massive” acreage of cotton crops was ruined by damaging winds, according to the Georgia Department of Agriculture. And dairies were significantly affected in at least 10 counties. Alabama lost over 30,000 broiler chickens, Meatingplace reports. And while Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam H. Putnam said that the state’s current focus was on residents displaced and endangered by the storm, he noted that poultry, peanuts, dairy, cotton, tomatoes and aquaculture had all experienced “severe damage.”
Babes and au-laits. Come for the café vibe, stay for the new mom support group. That’s the lure of the newest “Baby Café” in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Well, that and free lactation services. CityLab reports that the café—the third of its kind established in New York City this year—isn’t shilling the best artisan-roasted beans, but is instead offering a range of free services to new mothers in black and brown communities, where rates of breastfeeding are particularly low. In addition to being an immediate source of support and guidance, the presence of a Baby Café in the neighborhood can also help combat the stigma surrounding breastfeeding in public, while educating people about a woman’s right to do just that, especially in the workplace.
Corn hustle. Three Nebraska farmers have pled guilty in a scheme that involved marketing non-organic corn and soybeans as organic, the Associated Press reports. Prosecutors alleged that the trio used pesticides and fertilizers not approved under organic rules, selling their misbranded goods to an Iowa company over the course of eight years, from 2010 to 2017. The men netted almost $11 million dollars.
Valley of the kings. Shelley had no idea how right he’d be 200 years after quipping, “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” But then again, there was no Silicon Valley in his day. And as Recode reports, that old trope is now trickling down, from society in general to the gilded home of global technology startups—the southern San Francisco Bay. Unlike in the rest of the country, where median and low-income earners are experiencing at least minor wage growth, those same people in Silicon Valley have been hit especially hard by stagnating wages, with an “increasing concentration of company profits going toward the salaries of a select few—largely, high-skilled tech workers.”