Flickr/USDA/Preston Keres


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.

Oh God, they’re going to tweet about this aren’t they? This week VICE published a piece about a Southern California Denny’s that (shockingly) got trashed when the manager allowed punk band Wacko to play a set. It’s not the first time Denny’s has hosted a punk show, as the reporter hearkens back to a storied 5-band extravaganza at a Houston Denny’s titled…The Grand Slam. If the Denny’s corporation manages to co-opt these one-off events into some kind of unearned street cred, well…that wouldn’t surprise us at all.

Contami-nation. Whistleblower complaints with the Office of the Special Council over concerns about the USDA’s new plan for swine inspection, NBC News reports. The inspectors argue that, under the new rules, contaminated pork will surely find its way into the food supply. Get ready for an uptick in “feces, sex organs, toenails, bladders and unwanted hair.”

Heartwarming or nah? The seemingly intractable issue of school lunch debt has gained quite the high profile this year, as districts that use particularly punitive measures get called out by national news media. The second category of related news story is purportedly feel-good pieces like this one on CNN (from their Heroes Salutes vertical) about a wee lad who raised money selling cocoa to pay off the debt of 123 students. Excuse our cranky take, but we put this in the category of “It’s not sweet when the systemic problem that got us here is still so pervasive.” Happy holidays.

Wakanda never. Never mind that Wakanda, the fictional African kingdom, is literally invisible to the outside world, and has evaded the hand of colonialism for hundreds of years. Since June, the fictional Black Panther nation had been listed as a free trade partner of the United States, per a public USDA tariff tracker, with fresh vegetables, coffee beans, and essential oils allegedly flowing between the two “nations.” According to NBC News, that ended this week, after a researcher tweeted his discovery, and the department promptly removed all Wakandan entries, which a spokesman claimed were “test files.” Perhaps this is just business as usual for the government department that has rampantly discriminated against black farmers for decades? Also, maybe this goof-up wouldn’t have happened if USDA hadn’t recently shed hundreds of researchers.

Plot twist. One of the lawyers who sued Bayer, claiming its signature product Roundup caused cancer, has been arrested on charges of interstate extortion, CBS News reports. A Justice Department complaint does not explicitly name Bayer and Monsanto as the companies involved, but the description matches the case. Lawyer Timothy Litzenburg is accused of offering to halt his search for cancer-afflicted plaintiffs in exchange for a multimillion-dollar consulting agreement with the company.

Sign up for our Newsletter

Get a weekly dish of features, commentary and insight from the food movement’s front lines.