MONEY groceries

Walmart Tests New Drive-Thru Concept in Match Made in Heaven

Honey Boo Boo and her family go Extreme Couponing
If Walmart's pickup grocery option is successful enough to spread around the country, Honey Boo and other shoppers will be able to retrieve groceries without having to go inside stores. Jason Winslow—Corbis

It's now possible to go grocery shopping at Walmart without leaving your car.

This week, Walmart started testing a new concept called Walmart Pickup – Grocery, a service that allows customers to order online from a selection of 10,000 grocery and household products and schedule a pickup time for as little as two hours or as far as three weeks in the future. The experiment is taking place at a Walmart warehouse in the northwest Arkansas town of Bentonville, where Walmart is headquartered.

By launching the concept, Walmart joins a long list of grocery services all created with the common goal of basically eliminating the need to “go” grocery shopping by actually strolling through store aisles. We’re talking about online grocery delivery options from the likes of Amazon and Instacart, as well as drive-thru and pickup services akin to what Walmart is doing, via more established players such as Relay Foods and Peapod, which work with local supermarkets and often also offer delivery. For all of the above, the big selling point is convenience, saving shoppers the time and hassle involved in the boring but necessary task of gathering of groceries.

Walmart is only testing the service in one location, but the move is noteworthy nonetheless because it’s the world’s largest retailer here dipping its toes into what many see as the future of grocery shopping. And rest assured that Walmart is learning from the experiment, and that if it’s successful, shoppers will see the pickup option spread around the country.

“Certainly I know there are folks that are thinking about that and trying to figure out ways to meet the customer’s ever changing demands,” Mitch Fevold, the grocery manager at the Walmart where the test is taking place, said to a local TV station.

Fevold explained that after customers place their order and schedule a pickup time, they pull up to a large drive-thru area with a roof overhead that bears some resemblance to a gas station. Instead of a gas pump, the customer finds a touch screen kiosk, which he taps to alert store staffers that he’s arrived and ready for pickup. “The groceries are then loaded up and the customer would actually have the opportunity to review fresh products,” Fevold said.

At least in this test case, Walmart’s pickup service is being run out of a “click-and-collect” facility, a warehouse-type building where only employees are allowed inside, rather than at a Walmart retail location that welcomes shoppers. The concept is very similar to the Zoomin Market, a drive-thru-only grocery store concept opened earlier this year in Kansas.

Also interesting: For now at least, Walmart’s service is offered at no charge above the cost of the customer’s order. That’s how competing services like Peapod worked originally too. But as of early September, Peapod, which works with large supermarket chains such as Stop & Shop and Giant, instituted a $2.95 fee for store pickup, with a minimum order of $60. Alternately, customers can opt for a membership pass granting unlimited pickup and delivery, ranging in price from $39 for three months to $99 for a year.

TIME Food

This New Method of Farming Could Change Where Our Food Comes From

"It could be that the best strawberries in the world come from Detroit"

Caleb Harper, founder of the CITYFarm Research Project, and his team at MIT’s Media Lab in Cambridge, Mass. appear to have found a way to grow food four times faster than it does in nature, using a new farming method called “Aeroponics.”

Unlike regular hydroponics, a growing method that uses water instead of soil, the plants at CITYFarm do not sit in still water, but rather have their roots suspended in a “fog chamber” which sprays a nutrient-rich mist.

The CITYFarmers take great care to monitor each aspect of the plants’ growth, to see which conditions work the best, including a technique of limiting light to red and blue.

“This is the spectrum of light that the plants need to grow extra plant material,” Harper explains–and the rest of the spectrum besides red and blue only serves to provide heat.

Harper believes that Aeoroponics not only grows fuller, more developed plants, but could be a solution to local farmers looking to provide sustenance to booming city populations.

“We all know the phrase, ‘the best X comes from X'”, he explains, instead proposing that “the best X comes from the environment that created it.”

“There is a new way to think of using fabrication space, especially if you look at a city like Detroit.”

By building a similar set up, which requires no soil or great tracts of land, “it could be that the best strawberries in the world come from Detroit.”

MONEY Food & Drink

7 Reasons Our Coffee Habit Is Costing More These Days

dollar sign made out of coffee beans
Andrew Unangst—Getty Images

In a relatively short period of time, the American coffee habit has gotten a lot more expensive.

Monday, September 29, is National Coffee Day, when restaurant and coffee chains around the country are giving out free (or extremely cheap) cups of Joe to the masses. The day is quite the exception, however, given how as a nation we are spending more and more on coffee.

Here are 7 reasons why:

We’re drinking coffee earlier in life. A study published this year by S&D Coffee & Tea shows that on average, younger millennials start drinking coffee at age 15, while older millennials picked up the habit at 17. Typical members of Gen X, meanwhile, started drinking coffee at 19.

More of us drink coffee regularly. U.S. coffee consumption rose 5% in 2013, according to a National Coffee Association survey, meaning that today 83% of the adult population drinks coffee; 75% have coffee at least once a week.

And we’re drinking higher-priced coffee at that. Data from 2014 shows that 34% of Americans drink gourmet coffee daily, an increase of 3% over last year. Young people in particular are willing to pay higher prices for coffee: In a new PayPal poll, 18% of people age 18 to 34 said they are willing to pay more than $3 per cup, compared with just 8% of those age 50 to 64.

We eat breakfast outside the home more often. Our fast-moving, on-the-go culture has been blamed as a reason for declining sales of cereal and milk, as more Americans are skipping the traditional breakfast at home and opting for foods that can be eaten on the run, like Pop Tarts and fast food via the drive-thru. In fact, breakfast has become enormously important to quick-serve restaurants because it’s the one mealtime experiencing strong growth lately. Coffee purchased at a restaurant or on the go at a convenience store or café is always more expensive than coffee brewed and drunk at home.

One word: Keurig. “In 2002, the average price of a coffee maker was about $35,” a recent post at the Northwestern Kellogg School of Management blog stated. “By 2013, that number had risen to around $90.” Truth be told, it’s still easy to find a coffee maker for $35 or even less, it’s just that the type of machine—the traditional kind that brews ground coffee by the pot—is no longer typical. It’s been replaced by the pricier single-cup brewer that came into the mainstream over the last decade thanks to the Keurig company. For many consumers, the speed and convenience of such machines outweighs the premium one must pay beyond the plain old-fashioned coffee maker. Some 1.7 million single-cup Keurig brewers were sold in the second quarter of 2014, an increase of 200,000 over the same period a year before.

Plus, K-Cups themselves are pricier. It’s not just the single-cup machines that cost more—the cups themselves do too. The price per single-serve K-Cup pod varies widely depending on the style of roast, whether you’re buying a small pack or stocking up in bulk, and how strategically you shop for deals. But no matter how good you are at snagging deals, you’ll almost always pay more for coffee pods than you will for old-fashioned ground or whole bean coffee. One price-comparison study conducted a couple of years ago indicated that K-Cup coffee cost more than $50 per pound, roughly four times the cost of a bag of Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts beans. What’s more, K-Cups are subject to a 9% across-the-board price hike in early November. (Side note: Mother Jones and others have pointed out that single-use K-Cups cost more and are worse for the environment than recyclable pod filters, though Keurig Green Mountain has plans to make all K-Cup pods fully recyclable by 2020.)

All coffee is simply getting more expensive. A long-lasting drought in Brazil (the world’s biggest producer of coffee beans) has pushed global coffee prices to near-record highs, and the market may be affected for years to come. Already this year, java junkies have faced price hikes from coffee brands such as Starbucks, Folgers, Maxwell House, and Dunkin’ Donuts. Interestingly, even as coffee has gotten more expensive and economic growth hasn’t exactly been sizzling in recent years, Starbucks sales have outpaced lower-priced competitors Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s. What does that show us? For the most part, coffee lovers are passionate about their caffeinated beverages and aren’t going to trade down to what they view as an inferior cup of Joe, even if doing so would save a couple of bucks here and there.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

5 Amazing Powers of Avocados

Nutrition of Avocado
Bloomberg/Getty Images

Avocados are one of the most rich, delicious, and satisfying foods on the planet. But as a nutritionist, I’m also happy to report that an avocado is a powerhouse superfood. These luscious gems—which are technically fruits, although I categorize them as “good” fat—are packed with anti-aging, disease fighting antioxidants, and nearly 20 different vitamins and minerals.

One study out this year found that regular avocado eaters have higher intakes of fiber, vitamins E and K, magnesium and potassium—pretty darn impressive! I eat avocado in at least one meal each day, and I love how versatile they are for cooking (more on that below), but there’s also more health-related news to share.

Check out these five amazing avocado benefits.

They boost satiety

Eating good fats helps to slow stomach emptying, which keeps you fuller longer and delays the return of hunger. Avocados, which provide about 22 grams of fat each (mostly as heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs), certainly fit the bill. In one recent study, volunteers rated feelings of satisfaction and appetite after dining on meals with or without avocado. The addition of half of an avocado to meals resulted in a significant boost in self-reported satiety and a reduced desire to eat for up to five hours. This is one of the reasons I often reach for guacamole as my salad dressing.

They’re waist whittlers

According to a recent survey, Americans are still fat-phobic, probably due to the notion that eating fat makes you fat. But the truth is eating the right types of fat is actually a savvy weight-loss strategy. In addition to upping satiety, plant-based fats like avocado provide antioxidants and fight inflammation, which have both been linked to weight management. That may be why recent research revealed that regular avocado eaters weigh less and have smaller waists, even without eating fewer calories.

They protect your ticker

The MUFAs in avocados have been shown to slash “bad” LDL cholesterol, and up “good” HDL levels—a double whammy effect that helps to lower the risk of heart disease, the #1 killer of both men and women. A recent UCLA study also uncovered some remarkable heart protective effects of avocado consumption: Compared to eating a burger without avocado, the addition of half of a Hass curbed the production of compounds that contribute to inflammation, improved blood flow, and didn’t increase triglycerides (blood fats) beyond the amounts raised by the burger alone. Avocados are also a source of potassium, a nutrient that helps reduce blood pressure by acting as a natural diuretic to sweep excess sodium and fluid out of the body, which relieves pressure on the heart and arteries (bonus: that also means avocado is a natural de-bloater!).

They’re nutrient boosters

Enjoying avocado at mealtime can help your body absorb more antioxidants from other healthy foods. In one Ohio State study, when men and women ate salads and salsa topped with 2.5 tablespoons of avocado, they absorbed over 8 times more alpha-carotene and 13 times more beta-carotene—phytonutrients known to fight cancer and heart disease. Another recent study found that pairing avocado with tomato sauce and carrots boosts absorption of the veggies’ vitamin A, a key nutrient needed for healthy skin, vision, and immunity.

They’re not just for savory dishes

I adore guacamole, but one of my favorite things about avocado is that there are so many other ways to enjoy it, including in sweet dishes. I often whip avocado into fruit smoothies, whip it into chocolaty pudding, and substitute it for butter when baking. Just trade each tablespoon of butter in recipes like brownies and cupcakes for half a tablespoon of avocado. This swap slashes calories, upgrades the nutritional quality of your goodies, and still provides the creamy texture that will leave you feeling satisfied. Try it, and send us a picture of your healthy creation!

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

More from Health.com:

TIME celebrity

Andy Samberg Has His Very Own Hamburger Now

2014 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour - FOX All-Star Party
Amanda Edwards—WireImage / Getty Images

Is it called The Samberger? Yes, yes it is

Now we know what Andy Samberg is doing when he’s not acting or writing jokes or impersonating Nicolas Cage: he’s cooking up fancy hamburgers.

The Brooklyn Nine-Nine star teamed with California-based Umami Burger to create the Samberger. (Bet you didn’t see that coming.) It’s part of Umami’s Artist Series, which calls on celebrities to create unique burger combinations, People reports. Then, part of the proceeds go to a charity of the star’s choosing.

Inspired by a classic Chicago hot dog, the Samberger includes a beef patty, spicy sport peppers, roasted tomatoes, chopped dill pickles, kombu relish, roasted garlic aioli, poppy seeds and yellow mustard.

“We tried many combinations and flavors, and ultimately landed on a Chicago Dog-themed burger that has literally nothing to do with me, ” the actor said in a release. “But it tasted really good so we went with it.”

The Samberger will be available at Umami locations nationwide for $13 beginning Sep. 23, and $1 from each sale will go to the Center for Early Intervention of Deafness.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

9 Most Confusing Words On Chicken Labels

chicken
Getty Images

If you’ve been worrying about antibiotics in meat and antibiotic-resistant superbugs, good news: Perdue Farms says it will no longer routinely inject antibiotics into eggs about to hatch, NPR reports.

Until now, the eggs (these are fertilized eggs with chicken embryos inside, not eggs to be sold as eggs, which are unfertilized) have been injected with a vaccine to prevent a common chicken virus. The hole created by the needle makes the embryo vulnerable to bacteria, so hatcheries commonly inject an antibiotic called gentamicin, which is also used to treat disease in humans.

It took more than a decade to fine-tune this change, but now all of Perdue’s 15 hatcheries have stopped using gentamicin as a matter of course. Some chicks will still get antibiotics in their feed, but not the types used in humans. And others may get antibiotics in their water if they get sick, but getting rid of the routine use of human antibiotics is a big step forward, public health advocates say.

Health.com: 12 Crazy Things That Happen to Your Food Before You Buy It

Now, what about all those other labels on chicken: Free range, certified humane, enhanced? Read on for a primer on what they mean, and whether they’re worth paying extra.

WORTH IT

Free Range

Generally the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) allows these words on a label when the chicken has had access to the outdoors for part of the day. Not all free-range chicken is organic, but all organic chicken is free range.

Organic

This USDA-regulated term means the chicken has been fed only certified organic feed that was grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. The chicken also has not been given antibiotics at any time—though it may have been vaccinated against common diseases.

Health.com: 11 Things It’s Best to Buy Organic

Raised without antibiotics

This means the bird was not given medicine classified as antibiotics. Keep in mind that it may have been given other drugs and products to control parasites or other animal health risks.

Certified humane

A nonprofit organization called Humane Farm Animal Care administers the use of this label—also endorsed by the Center for Food Safety—by processors that meet its standards for raising, handling, transporting, and slaughtering various animals, including chickens.

Health.com: 18 Easy Chicken Recipes

All-vegetable or vegetarian diet

Most poultry feed is made from corn and soybean meal, but sometimes it also contains processed meat and poultry by-products (which include cooked, dried and ground chicken parts, such as intestines and heads). If the feed does not contain these fats and proteins, it can be classified as all-vegetable or vegetarian.

WATCH OUT

Enhanced

Most enhanced birds have been injected with a saltwater solution or broth to give them a saltier flavor and moist texture. The process can increase the amount of sodium in chicken by a whopping five times or more. Check the label: if the chicken contains 300 mg of sodium per 4-ounce serving or more, it’s been enhanced. Also, enhanced chicken often costs the same as unenhanced chicken, so if you buy a 7½-lb. chicken and it has 15 percent salt water in it, you’re essentially paying for more than a pound of salt water.

Health.com: 14 Reasons You’re Always Tired

Farm-raised

All commercial chickens are raised on farms, so any chicken could theoretically carry this label.

No hormones added

This is meaningless, since the Food and Drug Administration prohibits all poultry in the U.S. from being given artificial or added hormones.

Antibiotic-free

You may see this on marketing materials, which are not regulated by the USDA, but it shouldn’t show up on labels. Antibiotic-free (not to be confused with raised without antibiotics) means no antibiotic residue is left in the meat when it’s processed, which is true for all chicken because treatment is stopped prior to slaughter.

Beth Lipton is the Food Director at Health.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

MONEY Fast Food

Two New Ways McDonald’s Is Trying to Win Over Millennials

Build the Burgers of Your Dreams
McDonald's is testing a program in which customers can personalize burger orders using a tablet. courtesy of McDonald's

Marketers know that millennials love technology, personalization, and brunch. What might McDonald's do with this information?

McDonald’s has a millennial problem. Globally, same-story sales fell 3.7% in August, the largest monthly dip in a decade. While McDonald’s struggles are widespread, the fast food giant is having a particularly difficult time wooing millennials, the all-important offspring of Baby Boomers who will soon be replacing that generation as the largest consumer demographic. Fortune recently cited data indicating that since 2011, the number of U.S. consumers ages 19 to 21 that ate at McDonald’s at least once a month was down 13%. In a study about millennials’ favorite fast food brands published earlier this year, McDonald’s was ranked fifth, after Taco Bell, Subway, Panera, and Chipotle.

What millennials will and will not buy has been the subject of much market research, and the consensus holds that Gen Y prefers fast casual options like Panera Bread and Chipotle over McDonald’s basically because orders are always easily customizable, and the food is deemed to be healthier, fresher, and higher quality. Millennials aren’t content with cookie-cutter anything; they like being able to personalize everything from burritos to greeting cards so that what they get feels special rather than generic. Millennials have also shown a willingness to spend a little extra to get exactly what they want, especially when it comes to restaurants and food in general.

Add in the undeniable fact that the generation that came of age with the iPhone demands that companies use technology to make their lives easier and more comfortable, and it’s not hard to see how McDonald’s came up with a new “Build Your Burger” program now being tested in southern California. Last week, the concept expanded to a couple of San Diego-area McDonald’s. As the San Diego Union-Tribune explained, customers place orders using a tablet (technology!), and they personalize exactly what they want, including a choice of buns (artisan or brioche) and toppings (spicy mayo, classic ketchup, cheeses, guacamole, jalapenos, bacon, etc.). The customer then retreats to a table, and when the made-to-order meal is ready, a McDonald’s worker delivers it on a shiny metal basket rather than a scuzzy old plastic tray.

The food and the overall experience are meant to come off as fresher, personalized, high-tech, and higher-end. (The price is higher-end too: $5.49 per burger, plus 80¢ extra if you want bacon. In some test markets, prices are even higher, starting at $5.79. Add fries and a drink and you’re close to $10.) It’s easy to see how the concept would appeal to many diners, but especially to millennials, given what we know of their preferences.

That’s not the only way McDonald’s is trying to get millennials more on board with the Golden Arches. Millennials are renowned for being obsessed with brunch, and wouldn’t you know it? Word spread this week that back in July, McDonald’s quietly trademarked the term “McBrunch.” BurgerBusiness.com, the blog that broke the McBrunch news, speculated that a McDonald’s brunch could feature many menu items that are already available in different parts of the world, including the Tsukimi Burger from Japan (egg and burger patties topped with bacon and creamy tomato sauce) and the McMorning that’s sold in Croatia (pork, bacon, potatoes, and cheese on a torpedo roll). Let the attempts to cure your hangover begin!

“Their declining sales show they have to do something,” BurgerBusiness editor Scott Hume told USA Today, regarding McDonald’s possible foray into brunch. To clarify, McDonald’s has not yet launched a brunch (or McBrunch) menu option, and the Build Your Burger program remains only a test in limited markets. If either or both of these concepts resonate with millennials, though, they’ll surely be hitting a McDonald’s near you.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

This Is How Many Calories You’d Eat With Olive Garden’s Pasta Pass

Jeffery Patrick—Darden

You could consume more than 100,000 calories taking advantage of the offer

It sounds like a good deal: for $100 you can eat all the pasta, salad and bread you want at Olive Garden for 49 straight days. But taking advantage of the offer has its downsides—perhaps up to 113,190 of them. That’s the number of calories you would likely consume if you were to have a standard dinner nightly at the restaurant for the 7-week period of the offer. That works out to eating about 2,100 calories for dinner alone. Americans’ average total daily caloric intake is between 1,800 for women and 2,600 for men, according to recent government data.

TIME’s estimate assumes you’re eating a fairly standard Olive Garden dinner: a chicken Caesar salad, one order of bread sticks, a spaghetti and sausage entree and a Coke to wash it all down. All of those items are included in the offer, and this estimate assumes you don’t continue to scarf down food after the first serving of each item (the offer is technically “all you can eat”).

“No matter how much we talk about epidemic obesity and diabetes, we have not yet caught up with the times,” says Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center and editor of a journal on childhood obesity. “The last thing we need is more refined pasta at no extra charge. It seems like a great deal until the money you saved goes to the endocrinologist.”

Of course, there are less caloric dinner options at Olive Garden. For instance, you would consume 1,670 calories per meal if you subbed in seafood alfredo instead of the sausage pasta—and you could shave off even more if you skipped the Coke.

But, says Katz, that’s beside the point. “Everybody overeats at an all you can eat buffet. You’re missing out the bargain if you don’t eat all you can eat,” Katz says.

Recent research has suggested that the caloric content of many sit-down restaurant chains makes them just as unhealthy as their fast food counterparts. The average size of a meal at these restaurants, according to the study, is 1,400 calories.

TIME Food & Drink

Kraft Recalls American Singles Cheese Slices

Beef to Tomato Send July 4 Food Cost to Record
Packages of Kraft Foods Group Inc. sliced American cheese sit on display for sale in a supermarket in Princeton, Illinois, July 2, 2014. Daniel Acker—Bloomberg/Getty Images

No customer illness has been reported

Kraft Foods Group voluntarily recalled nearly 8,000 cases of its American Singles cheese Friday because a supplier “did not store an ingredient used in this product in accordance with Kraft’s temperature standards,” according to a Kraft Foods press release. At total of 7,691 cases of the pasteurized cheese product have been recalled.

“Consumers who purchased any of these products should not eat them,” says the release, which advises people to return the slices to the store where they bought them. Kraft says it has no reports of sick customers and described the recall as a “precaution” to avoid premature spoiled food and related illness. All affected products have a “Best When Used By” date of either February 20, 2015 or February 21, 2015.

The cheese was produced at the company’s Springfield, MO manufacturing plant.

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