The UC Food Observer chooses some important stories for you to read each work day.

On today’s menu, in no particular order:

1. Obesity epidemic: Is overeating more addictive than crack cocaine? George Monbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) pens a provocative piece about obesity in The Guardian.

2. Leveling the playing field for coffee growers: Direct trade or fair trade? Coffee is plagued by an opaque supply system. Consumers can change that by demanding coffee that is still connected to its empowered producer, writes Lucas Oliver Oswald (@LoookasOswald) for Grist.

3. Subway salad: When you think of farming, what typically comes to mind is rolling pastures and open skies, not subway tracks. Masahiko Kakutani works for Tokyo Metro, the company that runs the vast subway system in the central part of the city. Kakutani is the main farmer behind “Tokyo Salad,” the Metro’s new farming enterprise, hydroponic farming that takes place underneath the Tozai Line. “We’re currently growing romaine, red mustard, riccola, Lollo Rosso, endive, and chicory,” Kakutani says. Naomi Gingold (@naomigingold) reports for PRI.

4. No laughing matter: Fertilizer from the Midwest’s big corn fields is likely generating much more nitrous oxide than scientists previously thought, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Minnesota, Yale and USDA. Commonly known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide also is a powerful greenhouse gas. Tom Philpott (@tomphilpott) writes in Mother Jones about what this means for the environment.

5. Occupy the Farm: The UC Gill Tract Community Farm is a collaborative community project between UC Berkeley and the local community that is focused on issues of food justice and urban farming. The farm is part of an ongoing controversy over a total 20 acres of land in Albany including and adjacent to the Gill Tract agricultural research field, an area that has been the site of Occupy the Farm protests since 2012. Kathleen Costanza reports for Berkeleyside, while Food Tank writes about the “Occupy the Farm” documentary now available to stream or download.

6. What keeps ‘The Splendid Table’ cooking after 20 years: When “The Splendid Table” launched, it dared to deliver recipes along with explorations into the whys of what we eat, at a time when American culture was far less food-obsessed. Food Network, for instance, was barely 2 years old and had yet to make cooking a televised sport. Since the public-radio food show’s pilot in 1994 and debut in 1995, its audience has grown steadily. “The Splendid Table” was ahead of its time as American Public Media’s first show to launch a simultaneous website. Now “the show for people who love to eat” and the website reach nearly 1 million listeners and visitors weekly, not to mention a devoted podcast and social media following. Read Whitney Pipkin’s (@WhitneyPipkin) story in The Washington Post and a related chat with show host Lynne Rossetto Kasper and managing producer Sally Swift.

7. Red hot chili peppers: The UK’s hottest ever commercially grown chili pepper goes on sale for the first time on supermarket shelves this week. At 1.4 million Scoville heat units, the Komodo Dragon pepper is 400 times hotter than a jalapeño. Jessica Boulton (@JessicaBoulton) dared to eat one – her experience is captured in a story and video for The Mirror. If you want some spice but not that much, take heart: People who love chili peppers might be eating their way to a longer life, according to a new study, Mandy Oaklander (@mandyoaklander) reports for Time and Cindi Avila for Today. Chili peppers contain capsaicin. Katie Strong reports for The Sacramento Bee that UC Davis professors Jie Zheng and Vladimir Yarov-Yaravoy are studying how this compound affects the body, which could help scientists design medication for a broad array of ailments, such as those related to cardiac dysfunction, neurological disorders and chronic pain. Learn more on the science behind spicy peppers.