GOOD

How America’s Love Of Cheap, Fatty Chicken Led To ‘Superbugs’ — And Way Too Many Boring Meals

Maryn McKenna chased the medical mystery of drug-resistant infections right to the source: industrial chicken farms.

Americans love their chicken, and last year, they each ate a record-breaking 91 pounds of it, whether in the form of Chicken McNuggets, chicken salad, Kentucky Fried Chicken, or chicken soup (for the soul, anybody?). But as Maryn McKenna lays out in her new book “Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats,” the secret story of chicken’s success may have more to do with antibiotics than white meat. These days, as McKenna points out, birds are produced much like factory cars — and in low doses, added to feed or water, antibiotics fatten up chickens and protect them from infections due to overcrowding.

Today, a chicken’s weight at slaughter is twice what it was 70 years ago, and it’s achieved in half the time. To help them get there, chickens — along with other animals in the U.S. — consume 34 million pounds of antimicrobials per year including antibiotics, very little of it to cure actual infections. (For comparison, in 2011, about 8 million pounds of antibiotics were sold to humans.) As much as 80% of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. are given to animals; all those drugs weigh in at more than 63,000 tons per year, according to a 2010 paper.

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Food

Your Body Is Smarter, Stronger, And Dirtier Than You Think

A writer pushes his body to the limits using the science of survival

Wim Hof, a 57-year-old who goes by the nickname “The Iceman,” holds 20 Guinness World Records for withstanding extreme temperatures. He’s run barefoot marathons in snow, dunked himself naked in freezing lakes, and climbed Mount Kiliminjaro dressed only in shorts. Today, he instructs classes in the Wim Hof Method to students like surfer Laird Hamilton, claiming that exposure to cold, meditation, and special breathing techniques can essentially hack our immune and nervous systems, shedding pounds and improving health and energy.

A few years ago, investigative journalist Scott Carney flew to Poland to meet Hof, planning to expose him as a charlatan or madman in a piece for Playboy. “He seemed to be claiming superpowers,” recalls Carney. “Like conquering the world’s tallest mountains with no cold-weather gear, controlling his body temperature and immune system at will. I’d built my career debunking men like him.”

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Health

Brain-Zapping Gadgets Let You Hack Your Nervous System

Devices that tap into the body’s “wandering nerve” have been shown to ease migraines, epilepsy, depression, and chronic pain

Every evening, when it’s time to kick back after a busy day seeing patients, pain management physician Daniel Cartledge of Delray Beach, Florida, relaxes in a comfortable club chair and turns on his NERVANA, a device with earbuds that’s both a music player and a transcutaneous vagal nerve stimulator. More plainly, the earbuds send gentle electrical pulses, synced with the listener’s playlist of choice, through the ear to one of the most critical regulatory nerves in the body.

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Health

Why This Apple Breeder Wants You To Grow a “Frankentree”

Practical tips for backyard mad scientists

There are 7,500 varieties of apples growing around the world, but most of us eat only a select few. Wouldn’t it be nice to wander into our backyards and choose from dozens of different kinds of apples on a single tree? That’s just what Steven Edholm, an amateur apple breeder in Ukiah, California, does with his tree, which bears fruit from a selection of nearly 150 apple types. He calls his creation a “Frankentree,” and it fruits from mid-July through early February. In the summer, he can enjoy the sweet tang of a Cherry cox; in the winter, he crunches into a Whitwick Pippin, a rare British apple that fruits late in the season.

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Food

The EPA Once Said This Was The Dirtiest City In America. Now It’s One Of Our Greenest

People in Chattanooga used to drive with their headlights on in the daytime

Image of Chattanooga in the 1950s via Flickr user Brent Moore (cc)

Chattanooga, Tennessee was once so choked with smog and pollution that, as reported by CNBC, “people had to drive with their headlights on all day.” The federal organization that would become the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared the city the most polluted in America, with dangerously dirty air full of ozone, particulates, and other toxins. That was 1969. Today, this city of hills and hollows nestled at the foot of the Appalachian mountains is a mecca of green technology. Outside magazine twice voted Chattanooga the number one spot for outdoor activities, from canoeing to triathlons and rock climbing, and the city was recently ranked No. 12 among the top 15 metro areas in the U.S. for seeing the most improvement in air quality—with 66 percent of days having good air quality in 2014.

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