Thinly sliced: Chick-fil-A continues to climb up the restaurant chain ladder

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.

Cruise control. In 2016, Carnival Cruise Line, the biggest cruise company in the world, admitted to dumping oil-based waste overboard its ships. Now, that same company is fessing up to have continued with its trashy ways in the years since, including having dumped wastewater into Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park. Though Carnival has been fined for its actions, three local fishermen want to be recognized as victims, claiming that they suffered financial harm as a consequence of the cruise line’s latest actions. Alaska Public Radio has the story.

Turn down the music. Restaurants are required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and that includes accommodating diners with hearing impairments. But how can owners guarantee quiet spaces when they have no control over the raucous party at the next table? This week, The Washington Post takes a look at the evolving debate around noise at the table.

Winner winner, chicken dinner. Southern sandwich slinger Chick-fil-A continues its march towards global domination, moving up from the seventh biggest restaurant chain in American to number three (according to systemwide sales). McDonald’s and Starbucks are the only chains to best Chick-fil-A’s massive $10.5 billion sales figures in 2018. While fast food as a sector has been on a steady decline, this chain is bucking the trend. Oddly, most of this week’s Chick-fil-A articles don’t note what a pivotal figure the company has become in our national culture wars, and how that may be affecting its growth (examples onetwo, and three). Happy Pride Month!

Non-binary mind. A peculiar Australian tomato has befuddled scientists for decades, by exhibiting some pretty uncommon sexual characteristics. Whereas most flowering plants have both female and male parts, researchers discovered that bush tomato plants never seemed consistent about one or the other. Some individual plants have male parts. Others have both. What gives? Maybe it’s an outlier from the accepted norm. Or maybe, as Eleanor Cummins suggests in Popular Science, there is no such thing as a “norm” in nature.

What’s that smell? In North Carolina, it’s seemed like the tides are turning in the decades-long standoff between the pork industry and the people who live next to hog farms. In 2018, judges ruled in favor of the neighbors in a series of nuisance lawsuits, awarding them hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. But around the same time, North Carolina legislators passed new protections for the companies being sued. Now, environmental groups are suing to overturn those new rules, arguing that they’re unconstitutional. The News & Observer has the story.

The Counter Stories by our editors.