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.
End times. There’s no better time for comfort food than right after the apocalypse. At least, that’s what Costco’s betting with its $90 tub of mac and cheese, a 27-pound monstrosity with a shelf life of 20 years, CNBC reports. At $0.50 per serving, the bucket is marketed to doomsday preppers—presumably not the same subset of the end-times community that is meticulously stocking its bunkers with pickled pork butt from the new Joe Beef apocalypse cookbook. Sorry, folks: The pasta buckets are currently sold out.
Sudsy. Profits seem to be plateauing for the craft beer industry, and as a result, brewers are looking to expand the demographics of their drinkers, The New York Times reports. That means we can expect more marketing from beer companies aimed at women and people of color. (Look out, Lime-a-Rita, there’ll be a new lady booze in town.) For some brands, like the Native-owned Bow & Arrow Brewing Company, inclusion is less a revenue-raising endeavor and more just a way of doing business with their community. Others are making more explicit attempts to multiculturalize their ranks, such as by hiring “diversity” interns. Regardless, it sounds like if craft beer wants to stay afloat, it needs everyone buzzed. Bottoms up, we guess.
Buggin’ out. The ongoing partial government shutdown, now three weeks of age, has put a host of federal functions on ice and delayed paychecks for hundreds of thousands of workers. But stink bugs and microbes work in the nation’s capital, too. For them, as well as the plants, animals, and other living creatures being studied by government scientists on furlough, life may not go on. Their existential crisis is one of the more unseen casualties of the Washington gridlock, The Los Angeles Times reports. Darwin would not approve.
ICE’d out. Earlier this week, we ran a story about lower wages paid to subcontracted California farmworkers. One of our sources, Anthony Raimondo, a lawyer who represents those labor contractors, has just lost a lawsuit after offering to “make arrangements” for immigration authorities to detain a worker who was suing his client. KQED reports the million-dollar settlement could be precedent-setting. It’s thought to be the first time an appeals court has ruled that an employer’s attorney can be held personally liable for retaliation.
Milking it. In December, USDA published its final rule rolling back Obama-era changes to the National School Lunch Program, including less stringent sodium reduction targets and “more flexibility” to serve sugary, flavored milk. With the looser standards soon to take effect, Bloomberg Businessweek takes us into the frothy world of Big Dairy and its advocates, who see the school lunch program as a critically important customer in an age of generally declining milk consumption. Don’t miss the scene of a Food Network chef demoing a huge pouch of gooey Land O’ Lakes Cheese Sauce for a gaggle of cafeteria workers. It’s a fitting epitaph for Obama’s school meal rules, which rankled chefs, students, and industry alike, but nonetheless appeared to be working. At the time, Harvard researchers called the reform “one of the most important national obesity-prevention policy achievements in recent decades.”