8 Things You Need to Know in Food This Week

Aerial picture of a combine harvesting corn in North Dakota • Photo courtesy of Civil Eats

Aerial picture of a combine harvesting corn in North Dakota • Photo courtesy of Civil Eats

From the rapid growth of farm distilleries in New York state to how tighter immigration policies will affect farms, here’s what the Edible editors are reading this week.

The Record Online reports that the number of farm distilleries in New York state has nearly doubled in recent years: “Cuomo says the rapid increase in the number of businesses shows that state efforts to help the burgeoning craft beverage industry are paying off. The 2014 Craft New York Act cut regulatory red tape and lifted production caps in an attempt to rewrite state laws on alcohol production that in many cases dated back to prohibition.”

Will tighter immigration policies help or hurt farms and restaurants? Forbes takes a look:
Most people know that many immigrants work in restaurants. What they may not know is that the restaurant industry is suffering in big ways from a lack of personnel. Not highly trained and skilled people, mind you, but anyone willing to pitch in and do the work. Restaurants are stretched to the breaking point, even with the advent of all manner of tech support and facilitation. There just aren’t enough people to do all of the jobs – many of them less than glamorous, that need doing.

The New Yorker believes quinoa is the new Big Mac:
“Eatsa’s other big cost is its ingredients. The company uses organic quinoa sourced from the grain’s birthplace, the Andes region of Bolivia and Peru, which still produces the world’s highest-quality varietals—large, fluffy quinoa with mild flavor. Both countries have restricted the release of their heirloom seeds to international growers, so for the time being they remain the titans of quinoa.”

Civil Eats asks if food policy under Trump could favor Big Business even more than it already does:
While the Trump campaign and transition team has said relatively little about agricultural policy—National Sustainable Agricultural Coalition (NSAC) policy director Ferd Hoefner calls it a “blank slate”—Trump’s cabinet picks thus far indicate a bias toward anti-regulatory policies that favor large business profits. And when it comes to agriculture, that approach could adversely impact the very farm and rural communities that voted heavily for Trump.

Alternet writes about how vacant buildings can be turned into urban farms:
“The farm partners with local grocers to expand access and further reduce climate impact by reducing grocers’ reliance on produce transported long distances. On average, Locals yields 3,458 pounds (1,568.5 kilograms) per month, composed primarily of micro greens, edible flowers, and herbs in addition to a small scale research and development project work shopping mini vegetables and organic feed crops. Locals is looking to deepen its impact by incorporating more area nonprofits and educational centers.”

Reuters looks at the threat to Michelle Obama’s food policies and they may live on outside of Washington:
When President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress take over on Jan. 20, lawmakers are expected to take aim at what one of them has called “burdensome new rules” on food. School lunches and menu labeling standards are likely to be among the changes that may come under fire.

The New York Times highlights an edible product that could help abate large-scale food waste: “Using leaves, stems, banana peels and other fresh plant materials left behind after fruits and vegetables are picked or processed, Apeel has developed a method for creating imperceptible, edible barriers that the company says can extend the life of produce like green beans and berries by as much as five times. Apeel can even deliver a day-of-the-week bunch of bananas, each ripening on a different day.”

Also according to the Times, the Twinkie has made the super rich even richer: “Behind the financial maneuvering at Hostess, an investigation by The New York Times found a blueprint for how private equity executives like those at Apollo have amassed some of the greatest fortunes of the modern era.”