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.
Shareholder in sheep’s clothing. On Monday, animal rights organization PETA announced that it had purchased enough Starbucks shares to officially advocate for change within the company—a power that it will wield in a push to eliminate surcharges on non-dairy milk alternatives. Fast Company reports that Starbucks currently charges 80 cents extra for almond and soy milk, which PETA insists is “unfair” to both the lactose intolerant and the “cruelty intolerant.” This isn’t the first time PETA has bought into a company to allegedly advocate for change, having also purchased DuPont and 3M stock in the past, efforts it calls “shareholder campaigns.” Who might be the next target for PETA’s, err, investment portfolio?
Spill the beans. These simple legumes, found in all shapes, sizes, colors, and textures, have been feeding humans for centuries. But what made beans pop off in 2019? They are a quintessential source of sustenance, they’re cheap, they last forever when dried, and are super-convenient when prepared in the (you guessed it) Instant Pot. What else? Eater delves into how beans entered the zeitgeist in the last year. For more quality bean content, check out Layla Schlack’s Meditations on a Perfect Pot of Beans from October this year in Tenderly magazine.
Say my name, say my name. The soon-to-be-regulated lab-grown meat industry isn’t sure what to call itself. Does lab-grown meat sound appealing? How about cultivated meat? Cell-cultured meat? Motherless meat, perhaps? “There appears to be consensus that it would be good to align on a name, but not enough consensus to actually decide on one,” Bruce Friedrich, executive director of the Good Food Institute, tells Quartz.
Where the well (liquor) runs dry. Nearly a century after the end of Prohibition, there are still almost 2,000 jurisdictions in the U.S. where alcohol sales are banned, Vox reports. The end of the nationwide ban on alcohol in 1933 led many states to pass the regulatory buck on to towns and counties, resulting in a hodgepodge of rules that can vary widely from one district to another. Our favorite example: In Mississippi, while several counties are completely dry, the state has no law against drivers carrying open containers of booze.
Umami time. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is having some sort of comeback according to MEL Magazine writer Andrew Fiouzi. The author is upset that he was ‘brainwashed’ not to eat MSG over a decade ago, even though the negative side effects have been roundly debunked. Some say the anti-MSG sentiment is tied to xenophobia towards the Chinese-American community, though the ingredient that is found in countless non-Chinese foods popularly consumed like kelp, Campbell’s soup, and Doritos. Luckily Fiouzi will now be able to consume copious amounts of Chinese food and MSG. Because weren’t you wondering when he would?