Thinly sliced: Iowa greenlights caged eggs bill, Merriam-Webster adds “harissa” to the dictionary, and more

This is the web version of a list we publish twice-weekly in our newsletter. It comprises the most noteworthy food stories of the moment, selected by our editors. Get it first here.

About that Iowa egg bill… Two weeks ago, we told you about a bill in the Iowa legislature that leverages the federally funded WIC program to force grocery stores to carry conventionally raised eggs. That bill has passed and is headed for Republican Governor Kim Reynolds’ desk, The Des Moines Register reports.

McMinimalism. A good logo is hard to find. At NFE, we’re on our second iteration (early adopters might remember remember this regrettable decision) and we’re pretty happy with it. Hey, it’s been ripped off by at least one Canadian filmmaking crew, which means we’re doing something right. Anyway, imagine if the colors and shapes in our logo were so iconic you’d recognize us even if you could only see a tiny part of it—half of an N, the top of an F. That’s what McDonald’s has going for it these days. An ad agency in Canada has designed billboards that crop the iconic golden arches into stylized directional arrows that point to the nearest drive-through, says AdWeek. The top arc of the M points to the right on one billboard; the curved intersection of the arches indicates a dollar menu at the next exit on another. Fun fact: Every Canadian McDonald’s logo has a maple leaf at the midpoint between the two golden arches.

You’re bacon me sick. Roses are red, violets are blue, studies haven’t changed, and nitrates are still bad for you, Bee Wilson writes for The Guardian. “Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about controversy is how little public outrage is generated. Despite everything, we still treat bacon as a dear old friend,” she says. Her piece chronicles the rise and rubble over nitrates in the 1960s, when they were introduced to promote “an attractive rosy appearance” in cured meats, and the 2015 controversy over their apparent health effects, which yielded the #bacongeddon hashtag. The rage has died down somewhat but bacon’s popularity clearly hasn’t sizzled since.

Hostess with the mostesst. Meanwhile, Hostess Brands, Inc., mother of Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and other individually packaged treats, is celebrating its successful transition into the “upscale” snacking category. If you are wondering what, exactly, an “upscale” snack is, Hostess says they are foods that contain no high-fructose corn-syrup and “real” chocolate and vanilla over artificial ingredients. But fancy flavorings aren’t the only thing Hostess can tout. Just last month, Fox News reported that the company’s more than 1,000 employees will each receive a $750 cash bonus, 401(k) contribution of $500, and a year’s worth of free product. How many free Twinkies does it take to successfully run a $200-million-dollar food company? The world may never know.

Grocery bills. Where do groceries cost the most? Here’s a nifty interactive chart from Recode that looks at food prices at seven major groceries in six metro areas.

All talk? The Huffington Post sat down with Tyson’s newish sustainability chief Justin Whitmore to talk about the company’s efforts to reduce its environmental impact (it’s the country’s biggest meat producer). The big question: Is Tyson’s incremental environmental progress evidence of corporate America taking climate change into its own hands, or is it all lipstick on an antibiotic-juiced pig? One interesting takeaway from Whitmore is that, even though Tyson has invested in plant-based protein, the company has no plans to produce less chicken and pork. “I don’t necessarily think the world needs to eat less meat, from a sustainability perspective,” he said.

Better late than never. Merriam-Webster added 850 words to its dictionary this year, including “blockchain,” “cryptocurrency,” and “harissa.” While the concept of blockchain really took off in popularity and mainstream usage in the past year—including in ag and food—harissa has been around for a pretty long time. ICYMI, it’s a pepper-based paste mixed with a variety of spices and garlic, which makes a fabulous meat rub, yogurt topping, or sandwich spread. We hope that the recent inclusion of this spicy condiment means more dictionary users sample it. You’re in for a treat.

Le boeuf vs. lab boeuf. The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association is petitioning the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to prohibit lab-grown meat from calling itself “meat.” Now, attorney Rebecca Cross weighs in on the legality of USCA’s case. In an interview with Food Navigator-USA, Cross argues that the “clean” meat resistance is futile, and that “clean” meat producers have incentive to clearly delineate their product from slaughtered meat counterparts anyway. We ask: Would cell-cultured “beef” by any other name sell as “meat”?

The Seattle carbon freeze. How do you get an entire city to reduce its carbon footprint? Make it a competition. In Seattle, 170 residents, divided into 25 teams, are racing to see who can most reduce their energy consumption, KUOW reports. Some participants are making the switch from driving to taking public transit. Others are forsaking the umami temptations of meat. One high school participant said that she stopped buying tropical fruit like mangoes, citing the environmental costs of importing produce. That’s all well and good, but what about the city’s biggest import: coffee? You’ll have to pry that from Seattleites’ cold, dead hands.

Growing pains. Climate change could slash California’s crop yields 40 percent by 2050, NPR reports. Enough said.

Soup is the central character in a bigger story about our lives. While Wilbur Ross was on CNBC holding cans of Campbell’s soup to justify new billion-dollar steel tariffs, Cleveland Cavalier JR Smith served a one-game suspension for throwing soup at an assistant coach. As Ross explained, each tariff would add less than one cent to the cost of producing soup; meanwhile, Smith’s missed day of work for “detrimental conduct” cost him $94,897. As crazy as those numbers are, to both men the fines are “no big deal,” Ross said. Meanwhile Bill Simmons wonders what kind of soup Smith threw.

So are chips. Shaq and Magic Johnson are coaching Team Pringles and Team Cheez-It in a celebrity hoops game. Either way, Kellogg’s wins.

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The Counter Stories by our editors.