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.
“So much water.” President Trump has pledged to revise federal regulations limiting water usage in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, the 1,100-square-mile region of California that supplies a significant portion of the state’s drinking water, and also includes some of the country’s most productive farmland. According to The Sacramento Bee, Trump signed a memorandum—flanked by five of the state’s Republican congressmen—calling for a review of regulations to “minimize unnecessary regulatory burdens.” Existing rules were put in place to help restore the ecologically fragile region, including the endangered wild fish populations that call the delta home. (Fish can be sucked into drain pipes and killed when water usage is too aggressive.) But local farmers have long griped that the restrictions are draconian—and by moving to cut them, Trump fulfills a key campaign promise.
At your convenience. Convenience store fare is getting a makeover, driven by a rise in demand for “healthy,” “fresh,” and “local” food, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. For proof, staffer Olga Kharif looks to Green Zebra, a Portland, Oregon-based chain of bodegas that raised $10 million in its latest round of funding and aims to open nearly 20 more stores in the next two years. Yes, the chain sells kombucha slushies and grass-fed sausages, but the claims of “healthier” food may be a stretch. Green Zebra takes a stand against monosodium glutamate (MSG) and artificial colors in its food, but fears about chemical additives tend to be wildly overblown, and MSG is essentially just salt. To boot, Green Zebra also sells weed-infused sodas and alcoholic drinks—not exactly the epitome of wellness. We’re not trying to be haters, here, only pointing out that what passes for “healthy” is often just a healthy marketing budget.
Sour grapes. This year, a record 24 oenophiles passed the notoriously difficult wine industry exam, a test that mints Master Sommeliers and can double their salaries overnight. Worldwide, only 249 people have ever obtained Master status. But this happy news was soon eclipsed by a cloud of suspicion that cast doubt over the integrity of all the fresh Masters—someone leaked “detailed information” about the blind tasting portion of the test, and no one knows who took advantage of that information. Some sommeliers say the wine industry’s elusive Master status has long been in need of a shake-up (one female applicant failed because the judges felt her affect had changed on test day), yet others are just eager to put the whole thing in the past. The New Yorker has more.