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.
“Climate crisis.” The Guardian has updated its style guide to use phrases like “climate emergency” and “global heating” instead of “climate change” and “global warming.” Editor-in-chief Katharine Viner says current terminology is too passive and gentle. The paper is also ditching “climate skeptics” in favor of “climate science deniers.” Will the new, more urgent language help change public perception? We can only hope.
Asleep at the wheel. Tyson Foods has filed suit against a USDA inspector, claiming that she never looked at 4,600-plus hogs she signed off on during a day’s work at a plant in Storm Lake, Iowa—an alleged lapse the company says led to $2.5 million in damages. The uninspected carcasses were mixed with a larger group, according to Food Safety News, and the company ultimately had to destroy meat from more than 8,000 animals. The inspector normally worked at a much smaller plant and allegedly had trouble walking, but Tyson claims it was USDA’s responsibility to make sure the carcasses were clean. In general, meatpackers have been asking to take more responsibility for plant inspections—until, apparently, there is a problem. Also, how is it possible to inspect four thousand pigs in a single day?
Garlic and sapphires. While many American farmers are hurting from Trump’s trade war with China, garlic growers are revelling, Reuters reports. That’s because they’re seeing a rise in market share, as a result of tariffs that Washington has imposed on Chinese garlic imports, which make the allium more costly to sell stateside. “In a perfect world, we’d love to see the tariffs stay on forever,” said one American commercial executive. Sounds like a party for one.
What’s in a name? Smoked salmon won’t last long in the fridge, but the word “lox,” Nautilus points out, has been with us forever. According to New York University linguistics professor Gregory Guy, the word has remained basically unchanged in pronunciation and meaning since its origins over 8,000 years ago. That consistency has helped linguists track the spread of Proto-Indo-European languages from the steppes of western China through the Middle East into Europe. It’s still unclear to linguists why some words remain so consistent over time. But who knew your breakfast was so useful?
Vanilla scoop. Each year, about 15 percent of Madagascar’s vanilla crop is stolen. That’s because it’s an extremely valuable crop, netting one family $20,000 in a year (while most make less than a dollar a day). Yet despite labor-intensive growth requirements, flowers that must be hand-pollinated, and skyrocketing demand, prices rise and fall seemingly at random. This comprehensive feature in The Economist’s 1843 Magazine helps to explain why. It’s anything but—sorry—vanilla.