Thinly sliced: Iowa farms are polluting rivers with nitrate, Coca-Cola falls short of “water neutral” pledge, 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.

Slapdash. The Trump administration’s morning announcement of new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports has already caused a backlash. The Associated Press reports that Mexico intends to respond by slapping its own tariffs on pork bellies, apples, grapes, and cheeses, while European officials have threatened to do the same to American orange juice, peanut butter, and whiskey, among other products.

Doesn’t hold water. Two years ago, Coca-Cola pledged to take itself “water neutral” by 2020, promising to replenish every drop it used. In a lengthy investigation, The Verge finds that claim doesn’t account for the materials in Coke’s supply chain—from sugar beets to plastic packaging—and also exposes some, uh, slippery contacts between the company and its environmental auditors.

High index. The world’s biggest fish and meat companies aren’t properly reporting or managing their greenhouse gas emissions, according to the “Protein Producer Index,” a ranking published by the FAIRR Initiative, a group of private equity investors raising awareness about the economic costs of meat. Seventy-two percent of the agricultural sector is failing to manage climate risk, according to FAIRR—which could jeopardize goals laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement. Cal-Maine, one of America’s largest egg producers, was given one of the index’s worst scores, while Tyson Foods was specifically praised for major investments in lab-grown meat.

Nitrate rates. Iowa is discharging a disproportionate share of nitrates into the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, The Gazette reports. The state, which raises more hogs and pigs than any other in the country, has already adopted nitrogen reduction strategies, but evidently it’s not enough. As we found in another Midwestern state, nitrates can make their way into watersheds when farmers use nitrogen-laden animal manure as a fertilizer, sometimes with toxic results.

Table for one. A new study by Oxford Economics finds that mental illness is the factor most strongly associated with unhappiness. The second strongest? Eating meals alone. The Guardian looks at why communal meals are a key to health and happiness.

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