The latest: July 12, 2017

Is Coke the new Koch? Plus Amazon Prime's food safety problem and dicamba heads for the dumps

Twenty-five years later, “the town that beat Walmart” is back on the map

How did Viroqua, Wisconsin—a farm town of 4,000—emerge as a major Midwestern food destination? Three decades of hard work and creative collaboration.

By Danielle Renwick | Read more

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Maine’s new food sovereignty law means neighbors can sell each other raw milk

As towns take a crack at regulating their own food, legislators say neighborly trust is the only safety assurance Mainers need.

By Jesse Hirsch | Read more

Dicamba in the dumps. Friday marked a major win for dicamba detractors and a home-turf loss for St. Louis-based Monsanto as the pesticide was temporarily banned in both Missouri and Arkansas. This is a big deal: Veteran ag reporter Chuck Abbott called it “stunning” in his daily Ag Insider newsletter.

The damage the wayward weedkiller has allegedly caused is also unprecedented, according to a University of Tennessee weed specialist who told NPR’s Dan Charles he’d “never seen anything even close to this.” Read more.
Claire Brown

Is Coke the new Koch? Many consumers know to be wary of industry-sponsored scientific research (toxic sludge is not, in fact, good for you). Industries with controversial product lines often cherry-pick friendly scientists—and pay them handsomely—to dredge up data that reflects well on the product. For instance, in the ‘60s, the sugar industry funded a sketchy study that indicated fat—not sweets—was the real public health scourge (echoes of the “Eat Mor Chikin” ad campaign).

It gets stickier, however, when those studies are used as levers to affect public policy. The Coca-Cola company, long a funder of this kind of dubious research (e.g., diet soda is better than water!), was just found to be pushing their results on the federal government. A public records request from the group U.S. Right to Know revealed a cache of emails between Coke reps, scientists, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read more.
Jesse Hirsch

Prime time. How to describe Prime Day?

It’s Amazon’s annual offering to its paid Prime users, the impatient souls who pay $99 a year for free 2-day shipping and special discounts. It’s part Cyber Monday, part ad campaign, part pledge drive—a highly publicized bargain-fest you have to pony up to take part in. And it’s a 30-hour binge for Amazon’s Prime members, who’ll try to cram in all the savings they can before midnight tonight.

This year’s Prime Day comes hot on the heels of Amazon’s bid for Whole Foods, and as such it was supposed to be an occasion for the online retailer to flex some grocery muscle. So should we be worried that it’s mostly selling goods you’d want on hand in a doomsday bunker? Read more.
—Joe Fassler

Just the one-liners

The Vatican has ruled that communion wafers cannot be gluten-free. The Washington Post has more.

Soylent is coming to a 7-Eleven near you. Quartz has the story.

No soda tax in Chicago for now: An Illinois appeals court has upheld a temporary restraining order in Cook County, AP reports.

Tens of thousands of honeybees died suddenly in Massachusetts this weekend. Experts think they may have come in contact with a pesticide or an insecticide. Read more at WTOL.

Warm waters breed more fish, but not the good ones

Ocean acidification will change the make-up of our seas by 2100. The result? More “weedy” species.

By Claire Brown | Read more

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