Thinly sliced: New York City Council investigates food delivery company fees

Man on a bike with an Uber Eats backpack.

Robert Anasch / Unsplash

Man on a bike with an Uber Eats backpack.

Robert Anasch / Unsplash

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.

Dollars dashed. For years, restaurants have begged customers to stop using Seamless and other food delivery apps, saying the excessive fees—sometimes as high as 30 percent—actually hurt their business, and exceed the revenue brought in by new customers. Now, the New York City Council intends to investigate Grubhub and other delivery companies, after the New York Post reported that some restaurants were being charged for phone calls that didn’t result in orders. The head of the council’s small business committee says he’s thinking about setting a hard limit on those fees.

Engineered to be wild. Genetically modified wheat has been found in the wild—again. That’s a problem, because it’s not allowed in America—or really, anywhere else. The last time GM wheat was discovered, Asian importers canceled their regular wheat orders. This is the fourth such incident since 2013, and every time, the wheat strains turned out to be developed by Monsanto. Futurism explains how this could’ve happened, and what’s at stake.

Oh, the unwinding. What’s for dinner? Lapham’s Quarterly published the oldest-known recipes in history, found on a 4,000-year-old clay tablet from ancient Mesopotamia. Besides lamb stew, blood broth, and something approaching a beet borscht, the recipe tasters—a group of researchers from Yale and Harvard—also tried a stew made from dried sourdough and vegetables called “unwinding.” They say it’s the world’s first comfort food.

Drink up. In the wake of massive waterway cleanups costing many millions in tax dollars, the state of Minnesota will implement landmark legislation to protect the state’s water supply from industrial fertilizers. As the Star-Tribune reports, farmers in the land of lakes use 700,000 tons of commercial nitrogen-based fertilizer each year; this legislation limits the usage of these fertilizers in certain parts of the state. During the fall season, nitrogen fertilizers will be banned outright.

Unions: So hot right now. Employees at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) voted 137-2 to unionize, amidst an impending, highly contentious move out of Washington, D.C. Like their embattled compatriots at the Economic Research Service (ERS), they are now represented by the American Federation of Government Employees, which has been lobbying lawmakers to stop the move. (There’s a provision in the upcoming appropriations bill.) Agri-Pulse was on the scene of the landslide election.

Thin ICE. Unscheduled inspections at four ICE detention centers have revealed a host of appalling health and safety violations—including nooses in cells and moldy meat in refrigerators, The Independent reports. The state of affairs at one detention center was so bad that a kitchen manager was replaced mid-inspection. As we’ve reported in the past, a rise in detentions has led to overcrowding in many ICE facilities, which are violating their own standards. Why is this happening? As it turns out, one of the main incentives for private contractors to cut corners is putting any money saved into their own pockets.

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