Thinly sliced: Department of Agriculture hamstrings crucial honeybee research

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.

Hold your cell-cultured horses. Cell-cultured meat. Even though you’re likely years away from eating it, scientists are already talking about how to improve it. Natalie Rubio, a doctoral student who’s being funded to develop the technology at Tufts University, writes in The Conversation about culturing meat that’s more like steak than hamburger. As we’ve reported, scientists are already trying to fill empty plant leaves with animal cells to accomplish something similar.

Best in show. The best ginseng in the world is grown in Wisconsin. At least, that’s according to Wisconsin Public Radio, which we won’t accuse of home-state bias because their reporting is always spot-on! The station finds that President Trump’s trade war is threatening the growers, because their biggest customer, China, is adding as much as 40 percent to the price of the root. That’s not to say it won’t keep buying ginseng from America’s Dairyland—it’s the best in the world!—but it’s the farmers, and not consumers, who are expected to absorb those costs.

Why did the chicken cross the freeway? Highways can have detrimental impacts on wild animals—they literally split apart natural ecosystems. But overpasses and underpasses connected to vegetated medians can help feed wild animals, according to a new study out of the University of Alberta. Over the course of three years, researchers observed that animals—including squirrels, chipmunks, and minks—rarely used wildlife passages to completely cross roads. Rather, these species mainly used the pathways to access freeway medians, where they then foraged for food. Dig in!

Blue Bell blues. We’ve all been there: Passing through the ice cream aisle, steadfast in our determination to abstain, yet still tempted. One lick couldn’t hurt, could it? That’s the premise behind a viral video that surfaced in late June on Twitter, in which a woman licks a quart of Blue Bell ice cream and returns it to the freezer. The video sparked a lot of internet outrage and spawned a few copycats, The Washington Post reports. Police have since arrested one of them.

Another blow for bees. USDA has announced it will no longer compile its annual Honeybee Colonies Report, a comprehensive look at the broad landscape of honeybee health. As CNN reports, this is just the latest federal ag research project to get the axe, though this one could bear dire consequences. As global honeybee populations continue to drop off, putting the stability of our food systems at risk, losing this dataset could further hamper research that’s critical to slowing the decline.

Also tagged

The Counter Stories by our editors.