Thinly sliced: Leading ag groups are concerned with climate change … but behind closed doors

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Climate, closeted. Despite outward messaging to the contrary, farm country heavyweights like the American Farm Bureau Federation and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue are indeed concerned about our planet’s impending demise, Politico reports. They’re just not willing to talk about it in public. In June, they held a secret, closed-door meeting in Maryland to discuss potential opportunities for the ag sector to reduce emissions and sequester carbon. Welcome to the 21st century.

But the bananas aren’t on walls. “The secret museum in every city is a grocery store,” New York Magazine proclaims this week. And they’re right: What’s better than stumbling, jet-lagged, into a well-stocked market to load up on more fruit and novelty snacks than a hotel mini-fridge can reasonably accommodate? The people watching is never bad, either.

Gingerbread candles are trash. If you thought you were going to be able to scent your house with the perfect holiday aroma of fried chicken, think again, buddy. The limited-edition 11 Herbs & Spices Firelog from Kentucky Fried Chicken—brought back this year by, um, popular demand—has already sold out. “Last year, we captured the hearts, noses and fireplaces of our fans,” says KFC’s U.S. chief marketing officer, Andrea Zahumensky. USA Today reports that Enviro-Log and Walmart partnered to make this “hearth-warming and hunger-inducing” opportunity a reality for only $18.99, but prices are now up to $69.95, due to scarcity.

Not lovin’ it. McDonald’s black franchisees aren’t earning as much as white counterparts, and they’re leaving the chain instead of passing the franchise down to their family. Business Insider reports that black-owned locations net around $68,000 less per month than those owned by white franchisees, a disparity that’s more than doubled in just a few years. Orders from corporate HQ to undertake expensive renovations are at least partly to blame for the exodus—because franchisees with fewer locations and lower cash flows couldn’t afford to cover the costs. Meanwhile, a McD’s cashier can’t get by on $9.50 an hour.

PFail. Until late last week, it seemed the National Defense Authorization Act, a massive, $738-billion bill, might contain bold new protections against PFAS—a class of more than 5,000 toxic “forever chemicals” that are found in a range of consumer products, including compostable bowls. But despite some bipartisan consensus, Congressional leaders disagreed on several key provisions, including the introduction of a water safety threshold and mandating the cleanup of PFAS-contaminated sites. Ultimately, reform efforts broke down at the 11th hour, and those provisions were not included, though the agreed-upon bill does contain some modest new protectionsE & E News and Politico explain how talks fell apart.

The Counter Stories by our editors.