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Mitch McConnell Is WholeFoods’ ‘Person of the Year.’ No, Not That Whole Foods.

Plus, the Trump administration threatens tariffs against French goods like Champagne and cheese, and more news to start your day

Mitch McConnell standing at a podium.
Mitch McConnell is WholeFoods’ 2019 “Person of the Year.”
Photo: Christopher Halloran/Shutterstock

Mitch McConnell is WholeFoods’ “Person of the Year” — no, not that Whole Foods

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell set off a flurry of confusion and outrage the day before Thanksgiving when he tweeted that he had been named WholeFoods’ 2019 “Person of the Year” for his work to legalize industrial hemp.

People were — somewhat understandably, if embarrassingly obtusely — befuddled, with some Twitter users declaring that they would no longer be shopping at Whole Foods. Whole Foods Market, it should be noted, is a distinct and unaffiliated entity from WholeFoods Magazine, a monthly trade publication that purports to cover the “natural products industry.” Whole Foods was founded in 1980. WholeFoods, according to the magazine, has been publishing since 1977, and under its current ownership since 1984. Whole Foods did not designate McConnell as “Person of the Year.” WholeFoods did.

Since WholeFoods’ cover story on McConnell came out, Whole Foods has been busy assuring customers on Twitter that the supermarket and the magazine are not related. WholeFoods — which clarifies in both its Twitter bio and its website “About Us” page that it is unaffiliated with the Amazon-owned grocery chain — meanwhile, put out a statement on December 2 addressing the controversy.

“We named McConnell Person of the Year because of his connection to both hemp and climate change — two of the major topics in the natural products industry in 2019,” publisher Heather Wainer writes in the statement, after disavowing any perceived affiliation with Whole Foods Market. “We know there is a lot more to say when it comes to McConnell’s overall political views and agenda, but this report only addresses what pertains to the natural products industry … McConnell had a big impact in the industry throughout the year, both positive and negative, and this report is an acknowledgement of that impact.”

Mitch McConnell: Senate majority leader, plutocracy-embracing “climate villain,” a wizened husk of a man hollowed out by teeth-rotting ambition and cynicism — and, apparently, a hero to industrial hemp farmers everywhere. But not a Whole Foods Market mascot. Got it.

And in other news…

  • In a retaliatory move against France, the Trump administration is proposing tariffs on $2.4 billion worth of French goods, including sparkling wine and French cheeses. [BBC]
  • Hotels and conference organizers are increasingly turning to food trucks to provide a more “authentic” experience for feeding crowds — even if the trucks are sometimes little more than a staging area through which to serve food made in a hotel kitchen. [NYT]
  • Cold, wet weather across North America has resulted in a poor potato harvest, raising the possibility that American and Canadian consumers could see higher potato prices and a shortage of foods like french fries. [Bloomberg]
  • A judge has dismissed the $210 million lawsuit that Subway filed against the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for reporting that the sandwich chain’s chicken is, according to a DNA test, only about half chicken. [Vice]
  • Starbucks’ newest addition to its holiday lineup is an Irish Cream Cold Brew. [CNN]
  • Andy Samberg is producing his own Quibi cooking competition show, in which chefs will compete to produce the most delicious single bite of food. [Delish]
  • The 1988 classic Babette’s Feast is getting the remake treatment, courtesy of director Alexander Payne and Unique Features. [Deadline]
  • Drake’s Toronto restaurant apparently isn’t doing so well. [Vice]
  • Regional fave Wawa is expanding its line of craft beers. [Delish]
  • Looking back at the railroad cuisine that Americans used to eat in the heyday of dining cars. [Atlas Obscura]
  • Is this what true love looks like?

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