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Proposed Rule Change Highlights Unhealthy Items Like Spray Cheese, Beef Jerky as ‘Staples’ for Food Stamp Users

Plus, “Bourdain Day” is coming up, and more news to start your day


Cheez Whiz: now part of a balanced diet?

Remember when Republicans classed pizza sauce as a vegetable back in 2011? Well, it seems they’re breaking out the same up-is-down logic again: the U.S. Agriculture Department is proposing that canned, sprayable cheese (like Cheez Whiz) should be listed as a “staple” under the food stamp program, which in all fairness, it was already — but the new rule wants to reiterate it as a potential stocking item for grocery stores. Also to be listed as a staple along with other necessities of daily nutrition like beef jerky and pimiento-stuffed olives.

Under the food stamp program, grocery stores must offer a certain variety and quantity of “staple” foods in order to be able to accept SNAP benefits (i.e. food stamps) as payment. So, if pimiento olives or Cheez Whiz are reclassified as a staple, it means a store can stock (for example) fewer onions, beans, and less milk, replacing those items with the olives and canned cheese. The end result is then that food stamp users are more likely to end up stuck with more unhealthy, processed foods as grocery stores (particularly small outfits like convenience stores) reconfigure their offerings according to what’s cheapest. Progress!

And in other news...

  • Seattle and DC chefs Edouardo Jordan and Kwame Onwuachi talk about race in fine dining kitchens, noting that the racism black chefs encounter is usually subtle, not blatant. [Grubstreet]
  • Here’s a long, feelbad story about America turning into a surveillance state: PatronScan, a Canadian company specializing in ID-scanning technology for bars, might be building a large database of personal information, and keeping track of people banned from different bars. [OneZero]
  • Read this account of a New Orleans chef who spent two months cooking on a ship in Antarctica, teaching scientists about Cajun cuisine while learning how climate change could drown his hometown. [PRI]
  • Why not show your newborn that its dignity is less important than your love for a mediocre faux-Mexican chain restaurant by wrapping it up like a Qdoba burrito? [PopSugar]
  • Here’s the reason that McDonald’s hasn’t jumped on the fake-meat burger bandwagon yet: the CEO wants to be ultra, super, extra sure that it’ll bring customers in on a longer-term basis. [CNBC]
  • José Andrés and Eric Ripert are declaring June 25 to be Bourdain Day, encouraging people to share tributes to Anthony Bourdain. (June 25 is Bourdain’s birthday; the first anniversary of his death is on June 8). [Twitter]
  • Disneyland will open its Star Wars themed world this week, and your first look at the culinary options is now available. Spoiler: most of the items are just normal foodstuffs like crispy chicken or ribs given space names like “Fried Endorian Tip-yip” and “Smoked Kaadu Ribs”. [CNET]
  • Here is the Correct Take™ on ordering delivery from restaurants where you really should just eat in. [Twitter]

Correction: May 31. 2019, 4:20 p.m. This headline and article have been corrected to reflect clarification from a representative of Food and Nutrition Services: “The proposed rule text simply provides examples of stocking items. Many of the items listed in the rule, including canned spray cheese and beef jerky, are already considered staple items under longstanding SNAP rules. These are not required stocking items nor are they nutritional recommendations.”