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How to Have Your Healthiest Summer Cookout Ever

Food
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By Isabel Walston, EWG Intern

Summer is in full swing, which means many Americans are planning cookouts complete with friends, family and fresh food. Whether you're having a casual kickback or a big bash, Environmental Working Group (EWG) has you covered with tips and tricks to keep your summer cookout fun-filled and healthy.


Burgers

No cookout is complete without a main course, but you should choose meat carefully. A new EWG analysis of federal data shows almost 80 percent of supermarket meat contains superbugs or antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

These bacteria can be hard to kill with common antibiotics and are particularly dangerous for children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.

A whopping 62 percent of bacteria found on ground beef and 79 percent of bacteria on ground turkey were antibiotic-resistant. Despite the serious health threats superbugs pose, the federal government still allows meat producers to give medically important antibiotics to healthy animals to compensate for cramped or unsanitary conditions on factory farms.

  • Tip: Labels like "raised without subtherapeutic antibiotics," "responsible use of antibiotics" or "not fed antibiotics" can be misleading. They imply the animals did not receive antibiotics in order to speed growth. Animals may still have received antibiotics for other reasons, including to compensate for stressful conditions.

Veggie Burgers

Whether you're not eating meat by choice or due to dietary restrictions, veggie burgers can be a delicious option for any cookout guest.

As a reminder, plant-based diets are often healthier than meat-heavy diets, and they reduce your climate footprint.

  • Tip: For those who prefer to do it themselves, here's a killer recipe for a homemade lentil burger by Karen Malkin.

Burger toppings

Loading your choice of burger with vegetable toppings is a great way to get an extra dose of fresh produce. Choose from classics like lettuce, tomatoes or onions, or try mushrooms, avocados or hot peppers.

Dips

Whether you make yours with extra heat or extra lime, guacamole is sure to go over well at any summer hangout. Luckily, avocados sit at first place on EWG's Clean Fifteen list, with fewer than 1 percent of conventionally grown avocados testing positive for pesticides.

Sides

Sides are a great way to add flavorful, vegetarian-friendly options to your cookout menu. Coleslaw, corn on the cob, potato salad and mixed green salads are all tasty choices. EWG's Shopper's Guide has information on pesticides found in cabbage, sweet corn, potatoes, lettuce, peppers, kale and more!

Fruit

Fruit makes for a sweet, yet light dessert—perfect for summertime. Frozen fruit can help cool you down and may be cheaper! The Shopper's Guide ranks sweet summer fruits like peaches, strawberries, cantaloupes and more.

  • Tip: Strawberries are a crowd pleaser and provide a sweet pop of red for your summer dessert, but they also top EWG's Dirty Dozen list, so buy organic strawberries whenever possible.

You can learn more about crafting the healthiest menu for your guests with EWG's Food Scores, Cancer Defense Diet and our Healthy Living app. And if you're interested in additional healthy and easy recipes, be sure to check out EWG's Good Food on a Tight Budget and the EWG Eats cookbook.

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By Genevieve Belmaker

Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.

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Jessica Kourkounis / Stringer

The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.

"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.

The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.

"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."

The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.

"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."

Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.

Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.

That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.

Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.

If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.

"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."

To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.


"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."

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