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.
You think it’s easy, but you’re wrong. Instacart, the grocery delivery service, makes home cooking simpler for stressed-out urbanites. It also seems to make life hell for couriers and shoppers. The company turns tips into wages. Its app beckons shoppers with loud, ceaseless pinging. All told, it exemplifies “algorithmic despotism.” And now, it seems, those workers have had enough: They’re asking customers to #DeleteInstacart and boycott the app, in order to restore a 10-percent default tip, Vice reports. January 20 is the big boycott day.
What happens in Vegas … stays in Vegas. Unless you’re convicted of selling $140 million worth of fake organic grains, in which case the $250,000 you spent on “Las Vegas-related expenses” may become part of the public record. Such was the case with Randy Constant, the perpetrator of the largest case of organic fraud in United States history. This week, the Kansas City Star has new details on Constant’s double life, which included international travel and a boob job for a mistress. Constant died by suicide at age 60, soon after he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Chips ahoy. Crisps (or potato chips, as we Yanks call them) have been mass-produced for well over 100 years, but it was really only after World War II that added flavors—everything from salt & vinegar to katsu curry—began to overrun the market segment. Turns out the advent of a machine called the gas chromatograph allowed food scientists to isolate seasoning notes and reimagine complex combinations, changing snack flavors forever—and culminating in some truly gnarly permutations in the “experimental” ‘80s. But these days, there have been fewer far-out flavors (save for some limited-edition and seasonal delicacies), as well as a greater emphasis on chips as more than just a meal accompaniment. New Food Economy contributor (and James Beard award-winner!) Nadia Berenstein unfurls much of the sordid history therein: “It’s a new understanding of consumer desires and a new pace of production. It’s a bloodbath out there in the supermarkets.” The Guardian has more.
Skimming the research. You should know that the New Food Economy newsroom has strong feelings about the comparative quality of skim, low-fat, and whole dairy milks. Thus, when this Modern Farmer story came out, on whole milk correlating with lower obesity rates, it sparked some vigorous dialogue! It should be mentioned, however, that the study has limitations, and more research is warranted. The post rightly concludes with: “It may not be the case that whole milk is better for kids than skim—but we also can’t conclusively say that it’s worse.” (Ed. note: Two percent milk is excellent.)
A classy affair. When an in-unit washer-dryer isn’t enough: More and more luxury apartment buildings in New York City are using exclusive dining rooms helmed by esteemed chefs to lure in potential residents. Eater reports that these “rarefied” settings—along with other private dining clubs where access requires tens of thousands of dollars in fees—are far more than places to grab a bite, their members and founders say. They’re also where the wealthy and powerful can rub shoulders with others of the same ilk. (Or in the case of condominiums, an amenity that could also mitigate notoriously high vacancy rates.) One restaurateur believes the trend may also mark a revival of dining as a “community-centric” affair and an end to #FoodPorn culture. Maybe. For now, we’ll stick with our bodegas and delis, where the meat is sliced with guillotines.