Thinly sliced: Lobster boiling debate roils eaters, Nestle offloads candy biz to Ferrero, 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.

Sweet, sweet fantasy. Nestle, the world’s biggest packaged-food company, according to Reuters, has agreed to sell its U.S. confectionery business to Italy’s family-owned Ferrero, maker of—among other confections—Nutella spread. Price? More than $2 billion ($2.8 billion, to be precise). Candy watchers (yes, they’re a thing) say it’s a step forward in Nestle’s effort to make healthier products. Though, those of us who’ve fallen under the spell of Nutella’s health halo would like to preserve our illusion a little longer.

Sleepless in Seattle (because of hackers). Behind every misguided public statement is an equally misguided group of Twitter hackers readily available to cape up against critics of their beloved figureheads. After recently dethroned restaurant king Mario Batali attached a pizza cinnamon roll recipe to an apology for sexual misconduct, Seattle writer Geraldine DeRuiter responded with a feminist commentary and pinned the article to the top of her Twitter page. A day later that tweet was hacked, and DeRuiter was left scrambling to salvage her twitter account from what she believes was a targeted attack. Seattle’s alt-bi-weekly The Stranger reports that the snafu had her feeling “paranoid” about her tech devices. She is not alone.

If love is pain, then loving lobster is unbearably so. Switzerland has decided that lobster pain matters, the Washington Post reports. (Though there is plenty of scientific pushback about whether the much-beloved—and consumed—crustaceans even have the brain anatomy to process it.) Indeed, the country has decided for itself that, despite an inconclusive report from the scientist in charge of research showing that lobsters experience discomfort when they are boiled, it will require some type of lobster sedation before they are doused. So much for that famous Swiss neutrality…

But what if they’re wrong? The New York Times furthered the lobster feelings debate by illustrating the differences in how humans and animals process pain. But as one of the scientists quoted in the piece pointed out, the full minute it takes to kill a lobster in boiling water should also be enough to justify second thoughts on that method. Skilled chefs who serve lobster are presumably capable of killing the creature in a faster and more humane way.

A berry in a coal mine. Are the real fruits of the post-coal economy to come? Civil Eats reports that former coal miners are returning to earth’s surface with the help of a social enterprise, Refresh Appalachia, which partners with Reclaim Appalachia to convert post-mine land into sustainable economic development sites. Next spring, for instance, five acres of shrubbery that once covered coal company land will be harvested with berries, pawpaw, and hazelnut. Mulching over mining, right?

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