MONEY Food & Drink

America Is Going to Spend Big to Celebrate Independence

From $725 million in fireworks to $1 billion in beer, Americans will shell out a lot of money this Independence Day.

When it comes to Independence Day, Americans aren’t shy about spending money. We’ll spend $725 million on fireworks, up from $695 million last year, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association. Forty-two million people will travel for the holiday, thanks to low gas prices, says AAA. We’ll spend $71.23 per person on cookouts, which is $6.6 billion total, for 700 million pounds of chicken, 190 million pounds of beef and 150 million hot dogs. And to top it off, we’ll spend $1 billion on beer.

TIME conflict

Food Aid to Syrian Refugees Cut in Half Due to Funding Crisis

Mideast Lebanon Syrian Refugees
Bilal Hussein—AP Syrian refugee children play in the dirt street of a Syrian refugee camp in the town of al-Faour, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Saturday, June 20, 2015.

The crisis may lead to a full halt to all food support for most refugees in Jordan

(AMMAN, Jordan) — The World Food Program says it had to cut in half food aid for Syrian refugees in Lebanon because of a funding crisis and may soon have to halt all food support for most refugees in Jordan.

Lebanon and Jordan are among five countries that host some 4 million Syrian war refugees. The U.N. refugee agency says funding levels for them have dropped dangerously low.

The WFP, which had to make cuts before because of a cash crisis, says that in July refugee food aid in Lebanon will drop to $13.50 per person per month. Those in Jordan escape cuts this month, but 440,000 urban refugees could be left empty-handed if funds don’t arrive by August.

The program says it needs $139 million to keep helping Syrian refugees through September.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

This Kind of Food Is Why America Is So Fat, Study Says

TIME.com stock photos Food Snacks Candy Chocolate
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

More calories in our food supply means more overeating

Worldwide, countries are dealing with a serious obesity problem. In the U.S. alone, more than two thirds of adults are overweight or obese. Now a new study suggests it likely has a lot to do with the make up of our food.

The new study, published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, looked at both the obesity rates and the supply of energy-dense—meaning high-calorie—foods in 69 countries, and found that both body weight and calories had increased in 56 of those states since 1971.

The finding was especially notable in high-income countries. “This suggests that, in high-income countries, a growing and excessive food supply is contributing to higher energy intake, as well as to increasing food waste,” the authors write. In the U.S. alone, the food energy supply went up by 768 calories per person between 1971 and 2008.

A wide reduction in physical activity may also be a contributing factor, the authors note, however, the surplus of available calories is likely leading people to overeat which in turn is adding on pounds for a lot of people. Other factors like pollution and gut bacteria should also be further studied to understand how they may contribute to weight gain as well, the researchers argue.

To combat the problem, the researchers argue that comprehensive approaches will be necessary. For instance, nation-wide policies should restrict the marketing of unhealthy food to young people and more packaged foods should have front of box nutritional labeling.

As always, eating more fresh foods rather than processed and exercising are two healthy habits worth adopting.
TIME

How McDonald’s Is Classing Up Its Menu in New England

McDonald's Reports Poor Quarterly Earnings
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Signs are posted on the exterior of a McDonald's restaurant on April 22, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

McLobster, anyone?

McDonald’s in New England has adopted a touch of class.

Participating restaurants in New England have been selling a lobster roll as of June 27 made of 100 percent North Atlantic lobster and mayonnaise, layered with lettuce and stuffed into a home-style toasted role, reports Fox Connecticut.

The Lobster Roll is selling for $7.99 and has 290 calories, and is the first time in a decade New England-area McDonald’s restaurants have offered the seafood special.

“The return of the Lobster Roll is exciting because we have requests for it every summer. It’s a delicious sandwich and we are thrilled to offer this regional favorite at a great value,” says Nicole Garvey, a McDonald’s Boston region spokesperson.

[Fox]

TIME Diet/Nutrition

5 Delicious Banana-Free Smoothie Recipes

From strawberry basil to fudgesicle

Bananas are ubiquitous in smoothie recipes, but don’t go bananas if you’re allergic to the tropical fruits, don’t like them, or just don’t have any on hand: You don’t have to miss out on good-for-you shakes. Just blend up one of these banana-free treats and sip away.

A few notes:

For all of these recipes, combine the ingredients in a blender—preferably high-speed, like the Vitamix ($382, amazon.com)—and blend until smooth. If the smoothie is too thick, add water a bit at a time until it’s the consistency you like.

We gave suggested serving sizes, but remember that smoothie calories add up. Have a larger serving if the smoothie is a meal. If it’s a snack, pour it into a smaller cup and sip slowly.

Don’t leave out the pinch of salt. Your smoothie won’t be salty, but it will have a brighter flavor.

If you’re going to use almond milk, beware of packaged brands with fillers and sweeteners. One way to avoid all that is to make your own; it’s super-easy to DIY.

  • Strawberry Basil Smoothie

    strawberry-basil
    Beth Lipton

    Serves: 1

    1 cup milk (dairy, almond, rice, coconut) or plain yogurt

    1 cup frozen strawberries

    1/2 cup frozen spinach

    ¼ cup fresh basil leaves

    2 Tbsp. hemp seeds or almond butter

    1 Tbsp. honey

    ½ tsp. vanilla extract

    Pinch of salt

     

  • Peachy-Green Smoothie

    peachy-green
    Beth Lipton

    Serves: 1

    1 cup milk (dairy, almond, rice, coconut) or plain yogurt

    1 1/2 cups frozen peach slices

    1/2 cup frozen spinach

    2 Tbsp. flax-chia or flax-hemp blend (such as Carrington Farms, $6.50 for 12 oz., amazon.com)

    1 tsp. greens powder, optional (I like Sunfood Sun Is Shining, $40 for 8 oz., amazon.com)

    1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup or honey

    ¼ tsp. ground ginger, optional

    Pinch of salt

     

  • Mighty Mango-Coconut Smoothie

    mango-coconut
    Beth Lipton

    Serves: 1

    1 1/4 cups frozen mango chunks

    1/2 cup frozen spinach

    1 cup full-fat coconut milk

    2 Tbsp. hemp or chia seeds, or flax-chia or flax-hemp blend

    1 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey

    Pinch of salt

  • Fudgesicle Smoothie

    fudgesicle
    Beth Lipton

    Serves: 2

    1 cup milk (preferably coconut, but dairy or almond will work. Rice is too thin)

    1/3 cup raw cacao powder (such as JoyFuel, $18 for 1 lb., amazon.com)

    ½ cup frozen spinach

    ½ avocado, peeled and pitted

    3 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey

    pinch of salt

    1 cup ice cubes

  • AB&J Smoothie

    abj
    Beth Lipton

    Serves: 2

    1 cup milk (dairy, almond, rice, coconut) or plain yogurt

    1/2 cup frozen spinach

    1 cup frozen mixed berries

    ¼ cup almond butter

    ¼ cup oats

    1 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup

    Pinch of salt

    This article originally appeared on Health.com

    More from Health.com:

TIME brazil

Sao Paulo Bans Foie Gras in Restaurants

Brazil Foie Gras Ban
M. Spencer Green—AP In this Aug. 9, 2006 file photo, a serving of salt-cured fresh foie gras with herbs is displayed at Chef Didier Durand's Cyrano's Bistrot and Wine Bar in Chicago.

Restaurants that don't abide by the new law will be fined

The Brazilian city Sao Paulo officially banned the production and sale of foie gras in restaurants on Friday.

Foie gras is a delicacy that’s made from the fatty liver of force-fed ducks and geese. The legislation was passed out of concern over the suffering the making of foie gras causes the animals.

“Foie gras is an appetizer for the wealthy. It does not benefit human health and to make it, the birds are submitted to a lot of suffering,” City Councilman Laercio Benko said, according to the Associated Press.

While animal rights advocates are pleased with the decision, some chefs in the city are reportedly upset, arguing that people shouldn’t be told how to eat.

The law will go into effect in 45 days so restaurants have time to adapt. Those that break the law will be fined.

Other countries have banned the production of foie gras, BBC reports, such as Germany, Italy and Argentina. In many of these places, however, it is not illegal for it to be sold.

TIME

McDonald’s Quarter Pounders Are About to Get Supersized

Courtesy of McDonald’s A Quarter Pounder.

The new burger could be out next month, report says

The McDonald’s iconic Quarter Pounder is reportedly about to get even bigger.

Citing a document that it reviewed, CNBC.com reported Friday that the chain will soon unveil a Quarter Pounder that weighs 4.25 ounces ahead of being cooked. The new product will also apparently have a new shape.

The current beef patty for a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder weighs 4 ounces before it’s cooked, and then goes down to 2.8 ounces after it has been prepared, CNBC said.

“As (CEO) Steve Easterbrook has shared, we’re always innovating around McDonald’s food, drinks and restaurant experience based on customers’ preferences, and that includes hotter food and reviewing cooking procedures, and we’ll share more details soon,” McDonald’s told CNBC in a statement.

The news website cited the document as saying that the move “improves the taste, texture and appearance of the burgers” because the “patties retain more moisture resulting in a juicier and more flavorful burger.” The move is a bid to help struggling sales, CNBC noted.

The new burger could be released as early as next month.

In other McDonald’s news, the fast food chain announced consumers are ordering more healthier Happy Meals, and it also recently added mozzarella sticks to its menu in Wisconsin as a test.

TIME Terminator

This Burger Chain’s Terminator Ad Is Actually Pretty Cool

The ads will appear on over 1,000 websites

Red Robin is partnering with Google to create a high-tech ad campaign worthy of the upcoming film Terminator Genisys.

Created by ad agency Vitro, the immersive video ad features a Red Robin representative that the viewer sees as a Terminator would. Creepily, the representative has a robotic arm, much to the surprise of her fellow diners.

Red Robin will have television spots and signs throughout its restaurants, Adweek reports. The ad is viewable on your smartphone, and it can be seen on a desktop, too.

The publication reports that the Terminator-inspired campaign is the burger chain’s biggest ad spend so far in 2015. The ads will reportedly be shown on over 1,000 websites.

Check out the video here:

TIME Diet/Nutrition

14 Most Dangerous Summer Foods

outdoor-table-food
Getty Images

Avoid leaving food out for more than four hours

Who doesn’t love picnics and barbecues? Thing is, if you don’t practice safe food preparation, outdoor eating can also set the stage for foodborne illness. Every year approximately 1 in 6 Americans gets sick, and 128,000 are hospitalized from foodborne diseases, according to the CDC. Among 31 known pathogens, most deaths occur from Salmonella, Toxoplasma, Listeria, and norovirus. “The rule of thumb is that no food should be left out for four total hours,” says Amy Goodson, RD, a dietitian at Ben Hogan Sports Medicine in Fort Worth, Texas. “This refers to not just four hours at a time, but four accumulated hours.” The following foods are most likely to ruin your good time.

Burgers

Undercooked meat puts you at risk for potentially life-threatening illness from a subtype of E. coli bacteria called O157:H7. An outbreak in 2014 linked to ground beef contaminated with this type of E. coli sickened 12 people from four different states. “Your risk largely depends on the number of cows making up your ground beef,” says Michael Schmidt, PhD, professor at the department of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). “The greater the number of cows the greater chance of having something that was not intended to be in the meat.” Ground beef is riskier than specific cuts of meat that come from a single cow. Regardless, cook burgers or any beef to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees to kill E. coli.

Sprouts

Topping your burger with a handful of raw sprouts could set the stage for food poisoning. Seeds and beans need warm and humid conditions to grow, which also happen to be ideal conditions for the growth of bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli. Even homegrown sprouts grown under sanitary conditions can produce harmful bacteria because seeds have been known to be contaminated. “If you are putting sprouts in a salad or on a sandwich/burger, consider sautéing them first,” says Goodson. “Sprouts can easily harbor bacteria and when that is mixed with moisture, food poisoning risk multiplies.”

Caesar dressing

Eating a Caesar salad can make you sick if the dressing is made the traditional way—with raw eggs. (Store-bought bottled dressing is pasteurized; it’s homemade dressing you need to watch out for.) “Pay close attention to anything that could be made with raw or undercooked eggs, especially if they are not pasteurized,” says Lori Zanini, RD, a Los Angeles-based dietitian. The Food and Drug Administration recommends cooking eggs thoroughly and washing all equipment that comes in contact with eggs and your hands with hot soapy water.

Leafy green salads

Once you know the dressing’s safe, you also want to consider the lettuce itself—and the hygiene habits of the person who prepared it. A CDC report revealed that salad greens—such as lettuce, escarole, endive, spinach, cabbage, kale, arugula, and chard—caused 262 outbreaks involving 8,836 reported cases of foodborne illness between 1998 and 2008. There are a few ways greens can be contaminated: at the farm by manure or dirty water rinses; when a sick person preps a salad without washing their hands; and by cross-contamination at home (for example, by using the same cutting board for raw meat and salad prep, which spreads bacteria from meat to produce.) Wash greens before eating by placing them in a large colander and tossing them under your faucet, or by using a salad spinner.

Oysters

If a summertime trip to the shore always includes a stop at a raw oyster bar, consume with caution: Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio vulnificus can both can be contracted by eating raw shellfish, especially oysters. In fact, the CDC reported a 52% increase in Vibrio poisonings between 2011 and 2013. Both of these bacteria cause diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain in healthy people. For people with liver disease, diabetes, cancer, stomach disorders, or any other condition that affects the immune system, Vibrio vulnificus is extremely dangerous: it can invade the bloodstream, causing a life-threatening illness. Half of all Vibrio vulnificus bloodstream infections are fatal.

Homemade ice cream

It sounds like a luscious treat, but homemade ice cream prepared with raw eggs could contain Salmonella, says Leigh Tracy, RD, dietitian at the Center for Endocrinology at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD. “The FDA recommends using a custard base or pasteurized eggs.” Cooking and pasteurization kills Salmonella. Store-bought ice cream can contain harmful bacteria as well, but it’s much more rare. In 2015, both Blue Bell Creameries of Texas and Jeni’s Ice Cream of Ohio produced ice cream contaminated with Listeria. The Blue Bell ice cream was linked to 10 illnesses, including three deaths. All that said, you generally shouldn’t worry about the safety of store-bought ice cream;Listeria is rarely found in the sweet stuff because it can’t grow at cold temperatures.

Melons

Cantaloupes have been linked to Listeria outbreaks, and watermelon can also cause problems. Listeria traced back to a North Carolina farm and another outbreak in Colorado sickened more than 140 people and resulted in 30 deaths. Unlike other germs, Listeria can grow in refrigerator-level temperatures. It has no smell or taste and only heat can kill it. But if heated food cools, the Listeria may grow again, according to the FDA. Since the germs live on the outside peel, rinse all melons under running water and scrub with a produce brush before eating or cutting the fruit, even if you peel it first. Cutting into the rind can spread bacteria from the outside of the fruit to the inside.

Chicken

Chicken is commonly contaminated with Salmonella and needs to be thoroughly cooked to kill the germs. A 2014 Consumer Reports analysis found that 97% of all chicken breasts, including organic, were contaminated with harmful bacteria. Use a food thermometer when cooking meats and chicken to ensure you’ve heated them to a safe temperature. Chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees and held at between 140 and 145 degrees, says Goodson. “Plus, be careful of storage practices before it’s grilled,” she says. “For example, don’t put raw chicken or beef, even if wrapped in foil, above the salad or fruit bowl when you are transporting it to the BBQ or party, as fluids can drip and cross-contaminate other foods without you knowing.”

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are super healthy, and can be tossed into salads or sliced as a burger topping. But because they aren’t cooked (which generally kills bacteria) they have been linked to foodborne illness outbreaks. Cases of Salmonella poisoning in 2006 were traced to a packinghouse in Ohio. Overall, 190 people were sickened across 21 states before the source of the outbreak was discovered. Salmonella is found in the feces of animals or in some habitats including ponds as drainage ditches. “It is important to wash your tomatoes thoroughly under running water,” says Tracy. “Additionally, discard any bruised or spoiled tomatoes.”

Deviled Eggs

The risk of Salmonella is highest in deviled eggs when they’re not held at the right temperature (at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit), says Goodson. Salmonella can live on both the inside and outside of eggs and the egg can still appear perfectly normal, according to the CDC. Deviled eggs are cooked, of course, which should kill any germs in the eggs. But because you combine a bunch of eggs together for the filling, and then it sits for hours at room temperature, bacteria can grow to dangerous levels if an egg is undercooked or contaminated after cooking. Buy eggs only from stores or other suppliers that keep them refrigerated at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and serve deviled eggs on ice at all times.

Macaroni salad

Staphylococcal aureus is type of bacteria found primarily on skin and hair, and can cause food poisoning when a person prepping a dish contaminates it and then fails to refrigerate it properly. It’s most common in foods that require handling, but no cooking—like macaroni salad. Some strains of Staphylococcal aureus are capable of producing a highly heat-stable protein toxin, and unlike some germs that can take up to two weeks to cause symptoms, S. aureus can make you sick within 6 hours and sometimes as little as 30 minutes. Any food that should be held either hot to cold, left in the danger zone (40 to 140 degrees F), puts you at risk for foodborne illness.

Leftovers

Leftovers should be handled properly as well. Once everyone has eaten, put the food in its appropriate hot or cold environment, says Goodson. “Food left out becomes a problem because it enters the temperature danger zone, between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.” Count how many hours the food has been left out overall. If it’s close to or over four hours, trash it, says Goodson. “Do this especially if the food was left out a good part of the day, and at the hottest part of the day, just get rid of it,” Goodson says. “Don’t take the risk of getting sick.”

Charred meats

Though most summer food hazards come from food poisoning germs, here’s one danger you may not have thought of: Grilling meats has been shown to form cancer-causing substances, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). Studies have also demonstrated that one of the possible cancer-causing substances could be reduced when the meat, poultry, or fish has been marinated for at least 30 minutes with a mixture of vinegar, lemon juice, or wine with herbs and spices. “Cooking the meat over a low flame as well as trimming off the fat and flipping it frequently can help reduce the formation of the cancer-causing substances,” says Tracy.

Potato salad

When you see potato salad on a picnic table, you can probably assume that it’s safe to eat, but there’s one instance in which it can become dangerous: when the potatoes are baked ahead of time and then stored in foil. Spores of Clostridium botulinum—the group of bacteria that causes botulism—can survive the potato-baking process. Leaving the cooked potatoes wrapped in foil at room temperature produces perfect conditions for those spores to germinate and grow, and release their deadly toxin. In 1994, an El Paso, Texas Greek restaurant kept baked potatoes at room temperature for several days before using them in a dip; 30 people contracted botulism. Botulism is exceedingly rare, but even still, you’re best off prepping potatoes the same day you plan on making them into a salad.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

More from Health.com:

Read next: The Best Way to Treat Food Poisoning

Download TIME’s mobile app for iOS to have your world explained wherever you go

TIME Nepal

Go Inside the Effort to Rebuild Nepal

As delegates from around the world gather in Kathmandu for an international conference on rebuilding Nepal, here's how the country's farmers are recovering from an earthquake that, two months ago, claimed thousands of lives

Two months ago, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake, centered in a mountainous region northwest of Kathmandu, devastated Nepal, shaking apart ancient temples, splitting roads, leveling homes and bridges, and setting off angry landslides and avalanches across the Himalayan nation.

The temblor, which struck shortly before noon local time on April 25, was felt in neighboring China and India, and even as far away as Pakistan. A series of panic-inducing aftershocks followed, and then, on May 12, the country was rattled by a magnitude 7.3 quake centered northeast of Kathmandu, near the country’s border with China.

In Nepal, the death toll from the two earthquakes stands at nearly 9,000, with over 22,000 people injured. (Deaths were also recorded in neighboring countries.) Hundreds of thousands of homes were destroyed or damaged. The country’s health infrastructure suffered a body blow. According to a recent government report, nearly 450 public heath facilities, including five hospitals, were completely destroyed. In what was already one of the region’s poorest countries, the earthquakes—the result of an ancient geological fault deep below Nepal—are estimated to have pushed an additional three percent of the population into poverty. That, according to the World Bank, means “as many as a million more poor people.”

As Nepal slowly rebuilds, among the most pressing challenges is supporting agriculture in a country were two-thirds of the population depends on farming. Rice is a staple food in Nepal—and for many rice-farming communities, the earthquakes “struck at the worst possible time,” according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). June is when the annual monsoon rains arrive in Nepal. And the weeks leading up to them are critical for farmers who must ensure that their rice saplings are in the ground before the rains hit. But as many half of all farming households in the country’s worst affected districts are estimated to have lost nearly all their stores of rice and other crops in the earthquakes.

The rice farmers of Samantar Village in Nepal’s Dhading district, whose struggle to plant their rice crop ahead of the monsoon is chronicled in this TIME video by Nehemiah Stark and Nick Wilson, were among those who lost their supplies in the April 25 quake. “The rice seeds in people’s houses were ruined,” Bakhat Bahadur Rai, local agricultural leader, says.“The houses fell down and the seeds became a part of the rubble.”

What followed was a race against time to secure new seeds for planting before the rains for a healthy harvest. Samantar was lucky. With the help of an Israeli NGO called Tevel b’Tzedek, the rice farmers of Samantar managed to get new supplies in early June, before the rains. Elsewhere in Nepal’s hardest hit areas, the FAO has distributed 40,000 five kilogram bags of rice seeds to farmers for the current planting season.

But much still remains to be done across Nepal, where the government puts the total cost of recovery and reconstruction at some $6.6 billion over five years. It is an enormous challenge, and one that Nepal can’t meet on its own—the estimated cost equates to roughly a third of the size of the country’s economy. To help with the effort, the government is hosting an international donors conference with delegates from the around the world, including the Indian and Chinese foreign ministers.

As the visiting delegates consider the challenges ahead, over in Samantar, attention is focused on this year’s rice crop. “I have a feeling that I will survive,” Phoolmaya Rai, a local rice farmer says, “if there’s not another earthquake.”

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com