Welcome to 2021. Finally. But first, let's visit something that showed up online over the holidays about what may be the ultimate story of 2020, involving the pandemic, sustainability and even a touch of politics.
It starts when Rachel Handler, a writer for New York Magazine, did what investigative journalists should do: Follow a story from her own backyard (or corner store in this case) to find out what's going on.
She published the story online on the website Grub Street. On the surface, it's a story about a shortage of bucatini. This long, narrow pasta is similar to spaghetti but is formed into a long tube.
As she notes after finding the shortage extends beyond her own store, part of the bucatini shortage is due to pasta makers decreasing the variety of pastas being made, so they can ship more of the most popular items to keep store shelves stocked. But there's also issue of plastics sustainability. Namely, bucatini became popular as a replacement for plastic straws because of that opening in the middle. So there were suddenly new buyers.
That leads to the political angle as food safety agencies get involved because bucatini isn't supposed to be used raw, only cooked.
"'Pasta is not a ready-to-eat product," Rosario Del Nero of the National Pasta Association told Handler. "'You have to cook it. So when you use pasta to drink sodas, you're drinking and eating a not-ready-to-eat product. You put yourself at risk because that product has never been pasteurized or killed. And the only pasta cut affected is bucatini because of the hole.'"
Just ... go read the whole thing. Bookmark it for later if you're struggling to clear out your mailbox after the holidays. It's worth the time.