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.
In memoriam. Paul Bocuse, the celebrated chef who unleashed nouvelle cuisine on the international stage, died over the weekend, in the same room he was born into, which happened to be above L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges, his celebrated, Michelin-starred restaurant in France. While his hometown of Lyon prepares for his burial, residents of Montgomery, Alabama held their own somber gathering for another loss: a local Taco Bell, which had burned down after an electrical fire. In response to a question about why she was mourning its charred remains, an organizer told an Associated Press reporter: “It just gave people something to talk about other than all the negativity that’s going on right now.” Hard to argue with that.
What’s sadder than death? Munchies revisits a dark time for nutrition science: the ‘90s. That’s when nutritionists from the Center for Science in the Public Interest erroneously claimed popcorn was a grave threat to public health, and warned Roger Ebert that a large serving at a movie theater was the equivalent of eating six Big Macs. But don’t worry: The “deadly” implications of popcorn were established by looking at fat content, and since then, nutritionists have reversed their stances.
Low energy. British teenagers will have to find a better solution to late-night exam cramming than lots and lots of caffeine. In March, big retailers like Asda and Aldi will start carding customers who want to purchase energy drinks. That move accompanies growing concerns over the effects of high caffeine content in the beverages, including a recent report that finds 55 percent of consumers between the ages of 12 and 24 experience “vomiting, chest pains and even seizures” after drinking. Too much caffeine is bad, kids.
No money. As we previously reported, President Trump’s Department of Labor has proposed to hand control of restaurant workers’ tips over to owners and managers. Because of the predominance of women in the food service industry, this move will disproportionately affect them. A new report by the Economic Policy Institute estimates that women could lose $4.6 billion in tips should the DOL’s tip-pooling rule be finalized. That’s out of a total of $5.8 billion in tips that food service workers earn overall. The finding was one of many derived by an analysis of W-2 data. Woman inherits the dearth.
And modern slavery. An Idaho bill that would allow all sectors of the state’s agriculture industry to use inmate labor has passed a major legislative hurdle, Capital Press reports. As we reported last year, Idaho has been running a pilot, called the Agricultural Work Program, which allowed six companies to contract work to state prisoners. Now, the legislator behind this pilot, Republican Senator Patti Anne Lodge, is pushing for its expansion. The thinking was that doing so would simultaneously rehabilitate inmates and fill labor shortages. The lack of thinking was that this program essentially reinforces the prison-industrial complex, and incentivizes the legal system to keep prisons filled.