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.
Hot drama. Huy Fong Foods—the company behind the ubiquitous, green-capped bottles of sriracha—has been ordered to pay $23.3 million to the farm that once supplied its chilis, San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports. After three weeks, a trial jury found that the hot sauce company broke its contract with Underwood Ranches, the biggest jalapeño farm in the nation. Even spicier than the verdict itself are the interpersonal dramas revealed during the ordeal: Betrayal, a broken friendship, family feuds. An attorney for Huy Fong Foods said the company will appeal the decision.
Washed out. Who’s the villian behind California’s droughts, wildfires, and scarce natural resources? Current Affairs offers a sharp perspective on who exactly has been buying up water rights in the West, and the consequences for the have-nots who aren’t rich enough to do so. (Read: most of us.) In related news, the New York Times has an un-ironic piece in the Business section today, headlined “As Fresh Water Grows Scarcer, It Could Become a Good Investment.” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Ketchup plays catch-up. Heinz’s iconic glass ketchup bottle may not be long for this world, Laura Reiley reports for The Washington Post. The Standcap Inverted Pouch is poised to take over, according to the companies that invented it. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like—a plastic pouch that sits on top of a cap and dispenses condiments—and one inventor says it’s going to change the world. As lifestyle-guru-turned-
Like wind through an oyster’s shell. If you aren’t familiar with ASMR, first of all, who are you and do you use the internet? We kid, we kid. ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, a kooky phenomenon where certain YouTube videos provoke feelings of head-tingling and relaxation among a wide swath of viewers. MOLD Magazine has a piece on food-specific ASMR vids, and it is a savory read: “Slow pacing and amplified noises hone in on the unique subtleties of various ingredients—from the deliberate juicy crunch of candied strawberries to the satisfying crackle of sea grapes.”
Broken link. As many as 50,000 Los Angeles-area grocery workers could go on strike this weekend, KCRW reports. Their union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, has been negotiating with Ralphs, Vons, Albertsons, and Pavilions supermarkets for higher raises, better benefits, and pay equity for deli and bakery workers. Meanwhile, the local chapters of the Teamsters, a union that represents truckers, have voted unanimously not to cross the picket line if the strike happens. That could cripple the grocers, Supermarket News points out, because even if they hire replacements inside the store, there won’t be any groceries to stock—the Teamsters are the ones who drive them over from the warehouse.