Thinly-sliced: Starbucks to profit from bias trainings, Perdue speaks out against Smithfield ruling, 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.

Chocolate-covered. Writer Liana Aghajanian describes Ferrero Rocher chocolates as “the third form of legal tender I knew to be sacred and true,” alongside the U.S. dollar and the Iranian toman, in her story for Thrillist about the chocolates’ role as status symbol in immigrant communities. Turns out, the golden-wrapped confections made by Rocher, which also makes Nutella, were once very effective as bribes to Ukrainian officials in return for last-minute train tickets.

Nuisance nonsense. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue spoke out against the $50-million fine a North Carolina jury imposed on a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, calling it “despicable,” the Food and Environment Reporting Network writes. We reported on last week’s verdict in the nuisance lawsuit against North Carolina hog producers.

It’s a living. In a unanimous decision, the California Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that a class of delivery drivers should have been paid like employees, not independent contractors, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The ruling could have major repercussions for other gig economy workers, who now have a clearer path to receiving benefits like overtime and unemployment insurance. In February, we explored what the case means for Grubhub drivers.

Or a lifestyle. Even though shoppers say sustainability influences which groceries they buy, the overwhelming majority of them don’t notice labels or logos on the packaging, a new study out of Clemson University finds. “Consumers have become numb to all the messaging on packaging,” one expert says.

Grande profitability. Starbucks may have suffered some reputational damage after a store manager called the police on two black men who were waiting for a friend at one of the coffee company’s Philadelphia locations. But its bottom line is fine. In fact, it predicts that its racial bias trainings in May will result in “a long-term dividend,” according to a quarterly earnings call with CEO Kevin Johnson. Quartz has the details.

The Counter Stories by our editors.