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August 3, 2018

Weekend reads: How the American diet has changed over the last 4 decades

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    The American diet is changing. A 2017 report from the USDA tracked patterns in the American diet over the past 40 years and found some interesting changes, Julia Belluz reports for Vox. Some findings aren't surprising: For example, the report found that the supply of avocados has increased by 1,342% since 1970, while the supply of limes has increased by 1,654% during that same time. There's also been a massive increase in mango consumption—up about 3,200% since 1970—while the supply of broccoli and mushrooms increased as well—up by 1,146% and 937%, respectively, in 2014. The report also found that, while sugar consumption is steadily declining, Americans are eating more added fats and oils than ever—though consumption of animal fats, such as butter and lard, have dropped by 27% since 1970.

    Don't be on your cellphone while crossing the street. Using your cellphone while you cross the street makes you walk slower than others, according to a study in Transportation Research Record—and your slower speed may put you at greater risk of being hit by a car. The researchers assessed the movement of 357 pedestrians at a busy crosswalk in British Columbia and found that 38% of pedestrians were talking or texting on their cellphones while crossing the street. According to the study, cellphone use made pedestrians take smaller steps and walk more erratically than those who were not on their phones.

    Rachel Schulze's reads

    Millennials love their plants. Faced with high housing costs and uncertainty about their futures, millennials are turning to plants to soothe their woes. In big cities like Los Angeles, where the median home price is $615,000, homeownership is more than most millennials can afford—and without the option for an outdoor garden, some turn to houseplants to brighten up their space, according to the Los Angeles Times. As Lee Tilghman, a 28-year-old food and wellness blogger in Los Angeles, explained it, plants appeal to millennials because they "don't know what the future will bring." She added, "You can bring [plants] into your home without worrying about what comes next."

    The new Chicago River. For much of the last century and a quarter, the Chicago River was regarded as "unappealing, filthy, and unsightly hazard"—but today, Julie Bosman writes for the New York Times, the riverfront has become a bustling destination, thanks to major clean-up launched 15 years ago. In an interactive timeline, the Times chronicles the history of the river, from when Chicagoans "revers[ed] its flow to send pollution away from Lake Michigan," to the decades it spent "more functional than recreational," to today, when the river sometimes "river resembles a crowded, frenetic highway." See how Chicago cleaned up there river by checking out the Times' timeline here.

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