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Coronavirus And Food -- The Latest News

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Here's all the SoCal food news that's fit to print, or at least all the food news we can remember. It's been a busy few days.

At least four Southern California grocery store employees have tested positive for coronavirus including one employee at Costco in Marina del Rey, one at Vallarta Supermarket in Canoga Park, one at Gelson's in Pacific Palisades and one at Sprouts in Tustin.

Instacart's gig workers have launched a massive, nationwide strike. The grocery delivery company relies on 175,000 gig workers and, according to Vice, they are demanding the company "provide hazard pay of an additional $5 an order, free safety gear (hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and soap) to workers, and expands its paid sick leave to include workers with pre-existing conditions who have been advised by their doctors not to work at this time."

After the coronavirus outbreak, China has made eating wild animals illegal — but ending the trade won't be easy. "The cultural roots of China's use of wild animals run deep, not just for food but also for traditional medicine, clothing, ornaments and even pets," CNN says. Scientists believe coronavirus jumped to humans from either a bat, a snake or a pangolin in a "wet market," one that sells fresh meat, fish, produce, and other perishable goods, in Wuhan.

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Chef Tom Colicchio thinks it's a bad idea for restaurants to stay open, even for takeout and delivery — especially in New York. "Restaurants are doing this because they’re struggling, I understand the intention, I had the same desire to make sure my staff is kept whole, but it's just not a good thing to do right now," he says. Colicchio has joined forces with several other chefs and restaurateurs, including local stars Suzanne Goin and nancy Silverton, to launch the the Independent Restaurant Coalition, an orgnization that advocates for financial relief for restaurant workers.

World Harvest Food Bank, a Pico-Union food bank that works more like a grocery store, has tripled in business, thanks in part to a bump from artist Shepard Fairey, reports Los Angeleno.

On the local front, Beverly Hills institution Nate'n Al's has closed. Yesterday (Sunday, Mar. 29), was its last day in business. The Jewish deli had been struggling these last couple years alhough it seemed like it had been saved by Irving and Shelli Azoff, the couple that bought the Apple Pan, another old timer L.A. restaurant, back in Feb. 2019. It looks like the deal to move Nate'n Al's to a new location fell through, Eater LA reports.

For the first time since WWII, See's Candies has stopped producing its nuts, its chews and all of its other treats. The company was founded in Los Angeles in 1921. During WWII, it had to stop making candy due to rationing, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Mei Lin, the chef and owner of acclaimed Nightshade, talks about how and why she decided to close her swanky restaurant in DTLA's Arts District. It's not just a practical challenge, it's a devastating emotional one.


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