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SRSLY: That Wild Alaskan Pollock Is Frozen Chinese Pollock?

Your three-minute read on the best reporting you probably missed.


The best reporting you probably missed

David Epstein

Welcome to SRSLY, an (experimental) newsletter highlighting under-exposed accountability journalism. We'll distill the important information from investigative reporting you probably missed, and deliver it to you in three-minutes-or-less worth of reading. Sign up to have it delivered to your inbox. (You can, of course, unsubscribe at the first whiff of a bad joke.)

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MainMuck: Locally Sourced, as in, Same Solar System

Remember in “The Matrix” when Morpheus leans in close and asks Neo: “You think that’s air you’re breathing?” Now replace Morpheus with the Tampa Bay Times, and “air” with “locally sourced food” and you pretty much have the Times’ “Farm to Fable” investigative series.

We’ve got you covered with the four W’s: What? Wait for it. What else? And Why?:


Turns out the truth behind some restaurant claims of locally sourced food is about as local and factual as that “Canadian girlfriend” you had in middle school. (No way that was just us.) Restaurant critic Laura Reiley put on her investigative reporter hat and did a big ole fact-check on scads of Tampa-area restaurants, and found that “farm-to-table” claims were mostly just made up. In some cases, local food producers didn’t even sell the type of food that restaurateurs claimed to be buying from them.

Wait for it…

The Mermaid Tavern peddles a “F**k Monsanto Salad.” According to Reiley’s reporting, wait for it … the salad almost certainly includes GMO ingredients grown literally from Monsanto seeds. Don’t let that distract you from the fact that their “wild Alaskan pollock” was found to be frozen Chinese pollock treated with the preservative sodium tripolyphosphate. Sounds delish!

What else?

Morpheus says: “You think that’s not-pork you’re eating?” Think again, grasshopper. Reiley found that Gulfport’s tony La Cote Basque was selling veal schnitzel that was actually sliced pork, and for that indiscretion was fined $0. So, ya know, if you happen to be skipping pork for religious or other reasons, maybe not the restaurant for Tinder date night. Just a thought.


The usual: it’s way more expensive to buy from local farmers. And since restaurants are on the honor code, there’s nothing to stop them from misleading diners, except for honor...HAHAHA! And perhaps fear of the Tampa Bay Times. (Support local journalism!)

Talking Point

“Wow, and I really thought someone had figured out how to grow collard greens in the U.S. in June.”

MiniMuck: Less Transparency Because Football

Suspiciously named Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law a bill that will allow athletic departments at public colleges to delay responding to open records requests. Before, football factories had three days to say, simply: “We got your request.” Now they have 90 days. (Requests often relate to athletics expenditures.) The legislation is being referred to as “Kirby’s law,” because University of Georgia football coach Kirby Smart personally met with lawmakers to discuss the bill. In a remarkable feat of grammar, Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle mused: “I hope it brings us a national championship is what I hope.”

Number of the Week in the Form of ‘Jeopardy’

Answer: 1

Question: Alex, what is the rank of “newspaper reporter” in a new report detailing the worst jobs in America? (Loggers were second, and broadcasters third. Uhhh… please support ProPublica. We just won another Pulitzer.)

#facepalm of the Week

Sniffer dogs at Manchester Airport in the UK have failed to come up with any cocaine or heroin. According to an official report, however, one intrepid pooch did a great job uncovering “small amounts of cheese or sausages.” And at a cost to taxpayers of only 1.25 million pounds.

Tweet of the Week

Nothing to add.

Tips are appreciated. The paper kind, or the green paper kind.

ProPublica does not vouch for the accuracy of stories appearing on SRSLY. We select, review and summarize key points from accountability stories that may not have gotten wide exposure. But we are not able to independently vet or vouch for the accuracy of stories produced by others. We will inform readers if we learn that stories have been challenged publicly or corrected.

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