Thinly sliced: Instacart’s business model apparently relies on annoying shoppers until they work

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.

The cure is a cow lick. We’re fully on board with therapy dogs. We’d even argue that all cats are therapy cats. But therapy cows? That’s newsworthy. In upstate New York, one couple is offering cow cuddles for $75 an hour, The New York Times reports. You can really commodify anything these days! Sometimes the cows lie down and really cuddle, sometimes they don’t. Apparently, it’s big in the Netherlands.

Apple of my eye. The red delicious apple is an abomination and we should be ashamed of it. Now, it seems, some Washington apple growers are. California Sunday reports on the massive, hugely hyped launch—yes, launch—of a new apple called the Cosmic Crisp that’s being bred with premium qualities, like, y’know, a satisfying taste. This heavily researched new apple, produced by cross-breeding existing varieties in the lab, is an industry attempt to grow and brand premium apples that are more than just apples—much like an iPhone isn’t just a smartphone. (Insert Apple pun here.)

Leave me alone. If Instacart shoppers don’t take a gig, they’re forced to mute their phone, close the app, or sit through four minutes of pinging that sounds like submarine sonar—or a ticking time bomb. That’s according to dozens of workers whom Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg’s labor reporter, interviewed for a new story about how the company hounds its contractors into submission. Instacart is one of many companies that’s been pleading to politicians that it doesn’t control its workers, and therefore, isn’t responsible for the work they perform. Evidently, harassment isn’t a form of control.

Grunt work. Remember when Amazon said it would raise wages to $15 an hour? Workers at Whole Foods, which is owned by the tech giant, say that’s resulted in their hours being cut—effectively rendering the raises non-existent. Michael Sainato, a Guardian reporter who’s been covering the nascent union drive at the grocer, talked to workers suffering from labor shortages, and weary of the Amazonification of a store that was previously known for cult-like employee loyalty.

Fashy farmers. What a strange story this is. Or maybe it’s not such a strange story, and we all should have seen this coming. Either way, Kelly Weill has an eminently clickable story on neo-Nazis running organic farmer’s market stands. If it seems like an odd marriage of interests, consider overlapping concepts of purity and land worship, paired with an easy weekly forum to espouse your views directly to (often white) neighbors. The story also notes how difficult it is to get rid of these vendors, as most farmer’s markets don’t have specific policies against white nationalism.

The Counter Stories by our editors.