Daily Harvest Is Crumbling

Listen to this episode

Speaker 1: Serious PSA. If you have this product, do not eat it and contact daily harvest. This is not okay.

Rachel Hampton: Hi, I’m Rachel Hampton and.

Maddison Malone: I’m at a small encourager you’re listening to. I see. Why am I?

Rachel Hampton: In case You Missed It.

Maddison Malone: Slate’s podcast about Internet culture. And we will adopt your baby.

Rachel Hampton: We will. We’ll be the best parents you ever could see.


Maddison Malone: We’re equipped to raise a child.

Rachel Hampton: Rachel and me, I’m definitely an adult.

Maddison Malone: Be equipped to raise a child. That one was supposed to be.

Rachel Hampton: I’ve definitely done my taxes by myself.

Maddison Malone: What? Our taxes. We’re supposed to pay this.

Rachel Hampton: What’s a moral one? Okay, so.

Maddison Malone: This past week, one particular meme has been popping up online in the wake of the once again gestures at State of Post Row World. And it is the We will adopt your baby meme, which we were just riffing on.

Rachel Hampton: Yes. So this started because a anti-abortion anti LGBT couple had a sign at a pro-choice, pro-abortion rally that read, We will adopt your baby, basically gesturing at something along the lines of Don’t abort. Your baby will adopt them. Don’t.


Maddison Malone: More like now that you can’t. Yeah.

Rachel Hampton: The thing is, the couple in this photo is giving me do you remember back couple from that one protest like two years ago that was just like waving a gun on their lawn.


Maddison Malone: Yeah, I remember. I remember a good photo. Terrifying individual.

Rachel Hampton: Same vibes. The difference is, in these photos there is no one.

Maddison Malone: So the we will adopt your baby meme then proceeds to go viral because the sign is just a fundamental, moronic misunderstanding of why abortions happen.

Rachel Hampton: Also because the people in the photo are creepy. So the riff is posting an odd couple.

Maddison Malone: A photo of two people you would literally never hand a human child over to.


Rachel Hampton: And then writing, We will adopt your baby. Obviously, this meme format has mostly taken over Twitter, where I’ve seen some phenomenal variations.

Maddison Malone: I liked one. It was the the parents from the Matilda movie.

Rachel Hampton: Oh, my God.

Maddison Malone: Do you have a favorite?

Rachel Hampton: I saw the other mother and other father from Caroline. Can’t say I’ve.

Maddison Malone: Ever seen that movie, but I know it’s about creepy, but nice doll.

Rachel Hampton: Just know that they’re the parents that want to sew buttons on to your eyes.

Maddison Malone: Cool, cool, cool. I really liked I saw one. It was Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman in Juno. And they are the parents in Juno who want to adopt Juno’s baby.


Rachel Hampton: Jennifer Garner I’d say yes, too. I saw Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter from the Hannibal Show, which Bryan Fuller high rise the fuck up.

Maddison Malone: And to round them out. A real creepy photo of Jared and Ivanka Kushner just staring like corpses out a window.

Rachel Hampton: So the parents from Caroline.

Maddison Malone: We will adopt your baby.

Rachel Hampton: No. The real kicker is that the couple holding the sign, according to a piece in Mel magazine, that couple might not even be able to adopt your baby because they’re not U.S. citizens.


Maddison Malone: Another day in America, another meme.

Rachel Hampton: Well, that’s enough on Meme America.


Maddison Malone: How are you going to get to where we’re going right now?

Rachel Hampton: But that’s not enough on civil procedures. That’s right. Today we’re talking about a lawsuit.

Maddison Malone: Well, that was a stretch. Well, we’re actually talking about today is the daily harvest Lentil crumble scandal. And if those words make sense to you, seek help, possibly medically if you ate the lentils, but also just generally, culturally, if that clicked in your brain. We see you.

Rachel Hampton: You spend as much time online as we do, and perhaps you should not.

Maddison Malone: In the past few weeks, customers of the vegan meal delivery service Daily Harvest have begun reporting medical issues that reportedly started after consuming one of the company’s products. Multiple people have needed surgery. Lawsuits are being filed, and daily harvest still hasn’t figured out exactly what is the cause. Or, frankly, no one has been able to say definitively if daily harvest was the cause at all.


Rachel Hampton: While it has yet to be proven exactly how or if the French Lentil and Leek Crumbles contributed to the consumers medical problems. It does seem clear at this point that there is some sort of correlation here. Importantly, correlation is not causation. Allegedly, we’re running this by our lawyers.

Maddison Malone: To be clear, anytime we say French Lentil and Leek Crumbles on the show, you need to know that the and is stylized like a plus sign and that feels very important to the aesthetic of this brand.

Rachel Hampton: Also, we will back up the phrase French Lentil and Leek Crumbles.

Maddison Malone: French Lentil and Leek Crumbles. French Lentil and Leek Crumbles. French Lentil and Leek Crumbles. Later in the show, we’re going to be hearing from an influencer who says he had to have his gallbladder removed after consuming the Crumbles. And we’ll hear about his experience with that and what the next steps are for him.


Rachel Hampton: But first, what exactly is the daily harvest and how did their problems blow up so quickly?

Maddison Malone: More on that after a quick break.

Rachel Hampton: And we’re back. So a daily harvest is when you go out to your farm and you take over and you put them in a beautiful little basket and take them into your home and you make a beautiful sauce from them.

Maddison Malone: Alternatively, it Daily Harvest is a vegan meal delivery service that was founded in 2015 that offers a wide variety of dishes to choose from. One of those being the French Lentil and Leek Crumbles.

Rachel Hampton: I’m going to leave that to you to say for the rest of the episode.


Maddison Malone: Thank you. It’s a brand that has sported very high profile celebrity investors like Serena Williams, Bobby Flay, unsurprisingly, the goop queen herself, Gwyneth Paltrow. And it really embraces that sort of toxic. But I mean it in a different way if you’re an attorney listening to this trendiness of clean eating.

Rachel Hampton: I just can’t believe Bobby Flay is involved in that.

Maddison Malone: I don’t know about you, but I’ve been haunted by ads for daily harvest. For truly. Well, it launched in 2015. I was going to say five years, and that felt like I was exaggerating, but probably five years now.

Rachel Hampton: Yes. I have specifically been targeted by their smoothies, which the ads.


Maddison Malone: At first I was like, Oh, it’s a healthy smoothie in a cup. Easy breakfast. Great. I’m interested in that. No, you have to rip the top off the frozen cup of fruit, throw it into your blender, blend, and then put it in it.


Rachel Hampton: You also have to have a good enough blender that it’s actually going to blend that chunk of frozen fruit together because it’s quite literally in the shape of a cup. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve had the same blender for five years and it needs a lot of liquid to get it going.

Maddison Malone: I don’t even own a blender.


Maddison Malone: In recent weeks, the company has become embroiled in a real controversy, not a were too lazy to clean our blenders controversy, as many of the customers, as we mentioned, have started reporting medical issues, which coincided with having recently eaten the French Lentil and Leek Crumbles, including people who have even reported having to have surgery.

Rachel Hampton: I think I’ve decided what my new favorite word is going to be. Hmm. Imbroglio, because that’s what this is.

Maddison Malone: I look, I’m going to take one opportunity to make an organ harvest joke. This is it. That was the joke. And we’re moving on.

Rachel Hampton: So the imbroglio continues, though, as we will say many times. It’s unclear what exactly is causing these illnesses. So for now, the Lentil and Leek Crumbles are only allegedly connected. Early this week, the company released a statement that they’re working with the FDA and independent labs to figure out the cause. But as of yet, as in as of the time of recording, nothing has surfaced.

Maddison Malone: We’re speaking from the most recent updates from Daily Harvest. And as of this point, they said that they had tested to cover, quote, common foodborne pathogens, toxins and allergens, and that thus far none of those tests had yielded anything.


Rachel Hampton: But importantly, this statement came after a bunch of real bad ones, real, real bad, like problems in perhaps the Hall of Fame for how not to deal with some of your customer base having to get organs removed.

Maddison Malone: Do not let us adopt your baby, but do let us handle your crisis communication, Instagram strategy, because firstly we would recommend that you not post a promo image of spaghetti topped with while not plus signed time Crumbles with the caption an important message regarding our French Lentil and Leek Crumbles link in bio with detail. So there’s a photo of totally appetizing looking pretty food different different type of Crumbles. And then if you go to the link in bio, which whoever does like, not me, you will find out more like very serious information.

Rachel Hampton: I mean when I see link and bio with details, I think, oh, there’s a discount going on. Not someone has gotten their gallbladder removed.

Maddison Malone: Mm hmm. It’s kind of a wild way to attempt to alert your customers about a potentially hazardous substance.

Rachel Hampton: Yeah, kind of. And they have since deleted that post, which props to whoever in the room was like, Hey, guys, maybe we shouldn’t, but maybe that person was. Their comment section becomes more likely. The comment section definitely was like, Yo, what the.

Maddison Malone: Fuck? I am seeing tiktoks from people who are now short a bodily organ. This warrants more and it’s it’s clear that they’re they’re trying to give more. Now, you know, the more recent posts are things like an image that is just text that says an update on our voluntary recall of French Lentil and Leek Crumbles. And that is what it is to be very clear. And in case you don’t think about food recalls often. I didn’t before this week. How many times in our life have we looked in our Christmas and said that spinach got to go?


Rachel Hampton: The amount of times romaine lettuce has been shown to just potentially give us E coli and.

Maddison Malone: It’s only right as I’m biting into a salad.

Rachel Hampton: Like every single time I get a salad from Chipotle, I’m like, yum, yum. And then I’m like, Fuck.

Maddison Malone: So the damage had been done. The customers who’ve been allegedly affected by the product have lawyered up. They’re seeking legal action against the company. And as we’ve already said and are going to say, again, to be clear, there is not a confirmed link yet between the people who if the Crumbles and are reporting physical symptoms. This is all still very much developing and and still very frightening. Like not having answers is frankly, I would imagine, even more frustrating than knowing the thing that made you lose an organ.

Rachel Hampton: I mean, yeah, when when you eat the romaine lettuce and E.coli, you’re like, well, that’s a nice little confirmed link that I have. But now it’s just like, well, I have these French Lentil and Leek Crumbles in my freezer. What do I do?

Maddison Malone: Well, Daily Harvest wants you to throw them out. And the growing group of people who are pursuing legal action, they want you to keep them. So the story is still very much developing and it is largely developing online. These people have found themselves in the comment sections of Instagram’s on Tik Tok, and that online space is where content, creator and influencer Luke Pearson realised that the Crumbles might have allegedly caused the physical reaction which ultimately led to a gallbladder removal surgery. Luke is a, like I said, a content creator with over 80,000 followers on Instagram. And I do need to mention I have known Luke and his wife Kelsey for a few years. They had a very, very sweet Harry Potter themed proposal that went viral many years ago, and I became a fan.


Rachel Hampton: I wish they were here to talk about that and not this.

Maddison Malone: Rather than hear us recap the saga further, we thought you should hear what happened to Luke. Straight from him.

Rachel Hampton: We’ll be back with him after the break.

Rachel Hampton: Hey, I’ve been to the show than welcome. We’re so excited to have you here. In case you missed it, that joke is made every week. And we also come out twice a week. We come out on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and last Wednesday’s episode was just a cornucopia of happy things on the Internet because we really desperately need them. If you need a little boost, go check it out.

Maddison Malone: All right. And we are back with Luke. Wesley Pearson. Luke. Hi. Welcome, Daisy. Why am I?

Speaker 4: Hi. Thank you so much for having me.

Maddison Malone: So let’s start at the beginning. How did you come to acquire the now infamous daily harvest Lentil and Leek Crumbles?

Speaker 4: Yeah. So I got an email on April 19th reaching out to me to see if I was interested in receiving a PR package from daily harvest with their new Lentil Crumbles and a few other products thrown in. And I had actually never tried daily harvest before, and obviously I’ve seen the many ads that are targeted at someone who is vegan and across social media. So I was like, you know, this sounds great. I eat regular lentils all the time. Like everything checks off on my side. So I said, okay, set my address and ended up receiving the package on May 5th.

Maddison Malone: So you’re a long time vegan. This is very much in line with the sort of content you make on your social media accounts. What what drew you to daily harvest? What about the brand made you say, yeah, this is a company I’m interested in working with and promoting?


Speaker 4: Right. So like you said, I’ve been vegan for over five years now and I love cooking. I cook most of our meals at home. I am a foodie. And, you know, being vegan and caring about ingredients that go into things is just part of my daily lifestyle. And so daily harvest advertises, you know, organic everything and everything’s plant based and just super great sourcing and ingredients. And so, you know, on paper, everything checked off the list of things that I look for and I hadn’t tried them yet. So I was like, This sounds like the perfect opportunity to try them out.

Rachel Hampton: So what did these Lentil and Leek Crumbles tastes like? Did they go down easy?

Speaker 4: Honestly, like visually, it wasn’t that appealing. It actually caught me off, actually caught me off guard. I opened the package because it looked like brown lentils with, you know, little pieces of butternut squash and other things mixed in. But it wasn’t like a very bright, colorful food that I was preparing. So it tasted like lentils. I didn’t it really maybe lentils and spices. I didn’t really taste many of the other ingredients, but I also made one of their flatbreads that they sent me. And I was just going to put the lentils on top, just as like a protein source on top of the flatbread. And yeah, I mean, I added a little saroja and, you know, everything’s okay.

Rachel Hampton: Yeah. Yeah. Sounds like even if what happened afterwards hadn’t happened, you wouldn’t have gone for these again.

Speaker 4: Yeah, I wasn’t terribly impressed. Honestly, it was just like it was free, you know? It was in my freezer. And, you know, free usually tastes the best. It honestly.


Rachel Hampton: It’s true.

Maddison Malone: I swear, at the happy version of this story.

Speaker 4: And yeah, so like around May 29th when I was trying it, we were kind of just trying to eat out groceries that were in our fridge and not buy anything else. And so all of that was in the freezer. And, you know, I was like, okay, maybe a mid-afternoon snack. Kelsea thankfully wasn’t hungry at this point, so she actually never tried these Crumbles.

Maddison Malone: And who’s Kelsey?

Speaker 4: Luc My wife. Sorry about that. Yeah.

Rachel Hampton: When did you start having, like, physical symptoms? That something might be wrong?

Speaker 4: Yeah. So I guess on May 29th, I first try them, filmed content. Within 20 minutes of me finishing eating, I started having this all over stomach ache like I’ve never felt before. It was almost like diaphragm pain because every time I would take a breath, it was almost worse. The stomach actually didn’t even go away until the next afternoon, like it lasted almost 24 hours. I was tossing and turning during the night, but at the time I didn’t correlate the connection with what I ate to that.

Speaker 4: But then about a week later, on June six, it was like 11 p.m. at night, the night before our early flight to Mexico. And again I was hungry. Kelsey wasn’t. And the same thing happened within about 20 or 30 minutes of finishing eating. That same stomach ache came back and I was like, Kelsey, like, this is the same stomach ache I had last week. I don’t know what’s going on. And then within probably less than an hour, I started to have a fever and chills. I went to bed. We only had like a few hours of sleep, woke up at 3 a.m., basically just to assess how I was feeling and see if we could still go on this trip. And my fever was worse. My chills were, whereas I had like this crazy, intense itching on the bottom of my feet and hands, I had this headache that was progressively getting worse. As soon as I woke up that morning, I didn’t know what was going on. Ultimately canceled my trip and we were just like, How am I sick right now?


Maddison Malone: You used a really important word there, Luke correlation, because for right now, that’s all we can call it, because Daily Harvest has not confirmed any connection to the symptoms you are experiencing and their product.

Speaker 4: Right. And you know, like at at this point, I just waited all day and just was I took Tylenol to try to help my. Fever symptoms basically just kept getting worse for two more days before I went to the doctor. And it was just like, something’s going on. What actually sent me to the doctor was I woke up with in the middle of the night with the worst low back pain I’ve ever felt in my life, almost like I threw out my back. And so, like, everything was like, something’s going on, maybe with my kidneys. And so I go to the doctor and tell them all that, and they start running bloodwork and urinalysis. And that’s when basically the only thing that popped up was I had a really high bilirubin and I had elevated liver enzymes like out of this world, like in the 400, 500, 700. It’s and like for reference, they’re mostly supposed to be like less than 50 or less than 100.

Maddison Malone: What was it like, Luke, in that moment to be at a hospital seeking emergent medical care and just coming up against nobody with answers?

Speaker 4: It was super scary because I thought of myself as a very healthy person, very health conscious. And so it was just super scary to feel like you’re just doing all these tests and then you’re like, Is it this? No. Is it this? No. And so, you know, you’re just trying to wrap your head around what is causing this. Will I ever have an answer?


Rachel Hampton: What happens next?

Speaker 4: So I go home from that doctor’s appointment and the doctor said basically, like, call us back or go to the E.R. if things get progressively worse, if your fever, you know, hits 103 or above, or if you if your skin starts to turn yellow from jaundice, I go to the E.R. and so I went home. And, you know, it was a miserable next day or two. So, like, this is like day four.

Speaker 4: And then I noticed that my skin and my eyes are yellowing with jaundice. And I’m kind of I’m having a lot of anxiety just walking around the house, like, do we need to go to the E.R.? And, you know, we’re Googling, like, when when should you go to the E.R.? Like, when like you have pain, you have fever, you have jaundice. Like that was like checking everything. Everything on the Internet was like, yeah, you need to go to the emergency room. And so, you know, I’m in the er basically for 26 hours. So anything they could think of was that I possibly had a gallstone that got out and blocked one of my ducts and that’s what caused the elevated liver enzymes. But after my scans, there wasn’t zero evidence that that ever happened.

Maddison Malone: But they proceeded anyway with the best information that anyone could figure that it was your gallbladder, which you no longer have.

Speaker 4: Exactly. You know, with the information they had, you know, they they wanted to take precautionary steps to hopefully, you know, alleviate symptoms and help my liver heal and, you know, prevent something from potentially happening again with my gallbladder, you know, with the information they had. I totally understand. Obviously, I signed consent. I, I trust in my doctors. Like, you know, we had to do what we had to do. And yeah, now I do not have a gallbladder. I had to get an organ removed.


Rachel Hampton: When did you start thinking that this wasn’t just kind of like a freak accident, that this might be connected to something else?

Speaker 4: So this Saturday, whenever Abby Silverman’s Tik Tok was posted that same night that it was posted, one of my friends sent me her tick tock, actually, because she knows that we get a lot of PR packages and just wanted to have that flag our attention in case we did. And I was like, no, I actually literally did get that same PR package. I when I opened up that tick tock, I was watching it and I just sat straight up in bed and was just like, wait, wait, wait, wait.

Rachel Hampton: Why don’t we hear that? Tick tock.

Speaker 1: I’m literally shaking right now. Please just stay and listen to this because it’s really, really important. About a month ago, I received a PR package from Daily Harvest, so I ate the Franks bundle. Leek Crumbles And you’re going to understand in a minute why there’s this fucking weird packaging thrown away in my trash. The following day I started having extreme stomach and gastro pain and went to the hospital. The E.R. in the middle of the night when I was in the E.R..

Speaker 4: This literally adds up. Me and Kelsey just like, stood up, and we’re like, Oh, my God. You were literally standing in the kitchen eating those when you said your stomach started hurting and all of this started.

Rachel Hampton: So that tick tock by Abby Silverman was posted on June 18th. What was the moment that you thought maybe I should get a lawyer?

Speaker 4: Pretty much the next day, because that was like 24 hours of constantly thinking about this and seeing more and more people. I went through the Reddit thread and saw more and more people with the exact same like liver enzyme numbers and the immediate onset of the symptoms, the same symptoms that we’re all having. And so thankfully, I actually know someone in Portland who works in food industry and has a lot of experience and product liability and knows a really great attorney. And he actually reached out to me and was like, Hey, I think you should set up a meeting with him. I’m in his office today talking with him because they’re friends. And so we set up a meeting and met with him as soon as possible and just laid out everything, the timeline. And yeah, he’s been a great help since.


Maddison Malone: Your lawyer is now working with a number of people who allege that they had. Physical symptoms after eating the daily harvest. Crumbles. What does it feel like every time someone new joins this this group that frankly, nobody wants to be in? But you are.

Speaker 4: Yeah. You know, in a sense, it’s validating because, you know, we all share a experience that, you know, obviously sucks and has been awful and horrible to go through. But we all have such similar, if not exact symptoms and experience through this that it feels like we are in this together. And I’m thankful that we have all mobilized across social media to inform people honestly in better ways than daily harvest has.

Speaker 4: What is honestly, really awful to think about is I think I get a message or a comment almost every day and it’s like, Oh my God, I just saw this. I’m just now making the connection. I hadn’t read anything from Daily Harvest or I hadn’t heard about this. Like, maybe that maybe they don’t get on social media often or maybe they don’t check their emails. And so then now they’re realizing, Oh, I just ate the Crumbles two nights ago. I didn’t know about this. And so like that’s what it really sucks is that people are still in the dark. And then obviously all of us who have known for even some time, we’re still in the dark because we don’t have any answers.

Maddison Malone: Are you still being inundated with daily harvest ads?

Speaker 4: Yes, yes, constantly. And I’m just I mean, obviously, I’m not going to, like, say anything on the post or anything, but if you scroll the comments, you know, I others are saying, enough.


Rachel Hampton: So you’re an influencer and content creator. How is this affecting the way you think about working with brands like going forward?

Speaker 4: Who am I? To be honest, I am two and a half weeks post-surgery from this, and I have had a lot of food anxiety. I never had food anxiety before and obviously I receive PR packages of things all the time. And this is the first time anything like this has ever happened. And it’s it’s tough to navigate. I’m slowly getting my appetite back, but even so, I’m making my choices of what I eat. Like it takes me a while to think about it and be like, Do I feel what’s my gut saying about this? Like, my intuition is this kind of like, is this going to hurt my stomach? Like, I’m worried about how my digestive system is going to react because it’s completely different now. You know, I don’t have a gallbladder and so now my liver’s working extra and all that bile just goes straight to my small intestine. And so I’m like, am I going to have to immediately rush to the bathroom after I eat this?

Speaker 4: And it’s it’s been a constant struggle, and it’s definitely changed the way that I see partnerships with brands, but especially receiving free PR packages. I don’t think that I’m going to be accepting free food samples for a while. I don’t know if that will ever change, but right now I just have so much anxiety around food and eating and my digestive system and what’s going to happen. And so. Well, we’ll see.

Maddison Malone: Luke again, I’m sorry you’re not here under better circumstances, but we really appreciate you coming on the show and talking about the allegations against the daily harvest. Lentil and Leek Crumbles. Such an innocuous name for such a potentially harmful product.

Speaker 4: I know. Thank you so much for having me. You know, it’s important for people to hear what’s going on and to be aware and spread the news if they hear of others who have been through this to know that they’re not alone.

Rachel Hampton: But once again, that was Luke Pearson and you can find him at Luke Wesley Pearson on Instagram.

Maddison Malone: All right. That’s the show. We will be back in your feed on Wednesday, so please subscribe. It is the best way to make sure you never miss an episode or a potential food recall. Leave us a rating and review an Apple or Spotify and tell your friends about us. You can follow us on Twitter. We are at I see why am I on her score pod. We’re always tweeting fun stuff, we promise. And you can also always email us. ICYMI Etsy.com We love to hear from our listeners.

Rachel Hampton: I see why mass produced by Daniel Schrader, Matt Osborne, Carter and me Rachel Hansen. Alisha Montgomery is Slate’s VP of Audio. See online.

Maddison Malone: Or. Plus I’m not. So we will, doctor. Maybe. Maybe beam.

Rachel Hampton: But we will maybe beam.