Basic sewage and water infrastructure lacking: Many communities from the Black Belt to Appalachia lack basic sewage and water infrastructure. In economically distressed regions like Lowndes County in Alabama, this lack has led to a surge in poverty-related tropical diseases often found in developing countries. Doctors and researchers have evidence of parasitic infections like hookworm and toxocara and conditions for mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika and West Nile. READ MORE


The new oyster business: In the wake of hurricanes and oil spills, oyster harvests in the Gulf of Mexico remain lower than ever, and conclusive explanations for the decline don’t exist. But down on the Alabama coast, a new breed of oysterman — a farmer, not a tonger — is rising. And their farming methods might help keep the Gulf’s oystering tradition alive. READ MORE

Costco chicken complex: In Fremont, Neb., the sky-high feed mill looming over the open fields signals a shift in a state where beef dominates. It will support a $400 million chicken complex that Costco Wholesale Corp. is building to control the quality of birds it sells in its depots nationwide. READ MORE

French butchers under attack: In the land of boeuf bourguignon and steak-frites, eating meat is turning controversial. Even selling it is becoming dangerous. The vegan and animal welfare wave hasn’t spared France, where butchers and slaughterhouses are increasingly coming under attack. The French butchers’ lobby this week sought police protection after vegan activists stoned a butcher’s shop on Sunday. This followed incidents in April when some meat-selling shops were doused in fake blood. READ MORE

NAFTA negotiations could ‘accelerate’: The renegotiation of the NAFTA trade agreement is still on track and could “accelerate” after the U.S. mid-term elections in November, Mexico’s next finance minister, Carlos Urzua, said Wednesday. Urzua, a respected academic tapped by president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to head his economic team, said he was optimistic on the talks, dismissing speculation that Mexico’s newly elected leftist president would throw a wrench in the works. READ MORE


Frozen sweet corn may be source of Listeria: Supermarket chains in the United Kingdom, including Tesco , Lidl , Aldi , Waitrose and Iceland, have removed dozens of items from sale because of a deadly outbreak of Listeria in Europe. The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) has warned that frozen sweet corn is the likely source of listeriosis affecting five European countries, including the United Kingdom. READ MORE

Chemicals in food packaging: States such as Washington and California are increasing their scrutiny of chemicals in food packaging, pursuing a next-generation examination of earlier federal initiatives to limit or ban their use. Perfluorinated chemicals (PFAs), bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenol S, phthalates and styrene used in food packaging are the current targets. READ MORE

Beware those scientific studies: A few years ago, two researchers took the 50 most-used ingredients in a cook book and studied how many had been linked with a cancer risk or benefit, based on a variety of studies published in scientific journals. The result? Forty out of 50, including salt, flour, parsley and sugar. Their investigation touched on a known but persistent problem in the research world: too few studies have large enough samples to support generalized conclusions, yet pressure on researchers, competition between journals and the media’s appetite for new studies announcing revolutionary breakthroughs has meant such articles continue to be published. READ MORE


Farmworkers will ‘shelter in place’ when pesticides are sprayed: Farmers will be allowed to let farmworkers and their families “shelter in place” in their on-site housing when aerial pesticides are being sprayed after objections from some growers that newly updated rules were too intrusive, a state newspaper, the Capital Press, reported Tuesday. Oregon farmers had objected to the proposed rules that required the evacuation of workers within 100 feet of where trucks and planes are spraying pesticides; fruit growers in the Columbia River Gorge, in particular, spray in the early morning and would have had to wake farmworkers up to comply. READ MORE


TB spill at Johns Hopkins: Two cancer research buildings at Johns Hopkins Hospital were evacuated Thursday because of  possible tuberculosis contamination, according to the hospital. The Baltimore City Fire Department investigated the accidental release of a small amount of frozen tuberculosis in a bridge between the two buildings in the 1500 block of Orleans Street, said Kim Hoppe, a spokeswoman for the hospital, in a statement. READ MORE


Heat wave threatens Southern California: Southern California simmered Thursday in the early stages of a potentially dangerous heat wave that forecasters predicted would send temperatures soaring to record levels and create conditions that could readily cause wildfires to spread. A massive dome of high pressure building in from the east began pressing down on the region, pushing away the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean and setting the stage for widespread triple-digit temperatures Friday and into the weekend, even in some coastal areas. READ MORE

‘Historic’ rainfall inundates Japan: Hundreds of thousands of people across a wide swathe of western and central Japan were evacuated from their homes on Friday as torrential rain flooded rivers and set off landslides, killing at least four people. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) issued its strongest possible warning about the “historic” rainfall and said more was set to batter already saturated areas through Sunday, raising the danger of more landslides and major damage. READ MORE

Super typhoon intensifies: Super Typhoon Maria rapidly intensified in the western Pacific Ocean northwest of Guam, and, while expected to weaken somewhat beforehand, poses a danger of a strong typhoon strike in Japan’s far southwesternmost islands, including Okinawa, eastern China, and possibly Taiwan next week. Maria is now a Category 4 equivalent system, called a super typhoon locally, located roughly 300 miles northwest of Guam. READ MORE


Chicago gun violence: It was a scene played out over again and again on Chicago’s West Side. Shocked and dazed from the bullets that just entered his body, a young black man was carried into an ambulance on a stretcher. The window of the sub shop he walked past exploded. Everyone inside the shop was fine, because employees are protected by a thick bulletproof glass, and exchange food for money with a revolving bulletproof glass door. There is nowhere to sit in the shop. These sub shops are everywhere on the West Side, a constant reminder in an already economically depressed neighborhood that normal commerce is just too dangerous here. READ MORE

Restaurants and immigration: The food service industry has historically relied on immigrants, mainly Latino and often undocumented, for its labor force. Before separating children from parents, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency focused its efforts on food service, with sweeping, large-scale raids concentrated on restaurant kitchens, farms and food processing plants across the country. Mic spoke to three Atlanta restaurant owners about what it means run a business at this time. READ MORE


Venezuela’s no-cash economy: Under the midday sun, dozens of fishermen wait to sell their day’s catch by a lagoon in the town of Rio Chico on the Caribbean coast of Venezuela. But they aren’t expecting cash in return. Instead, they’re swapping mullets and snappers for packages of flour, rice and cooking oil. There is no cash in the country, only barter, people say. READ MORE


Tariffs’ effects on Alabama:  The state of Alabama and its growing auto industry are seeing delays in big manufacturing investments in light of President Donald Trump’s bellicose trade policies, and officials are urging a more conciliatory approach. READ MORE


How Chicken Salad Chick became a $75 million business: For many of us, chicken salad is just another sandwich filling, but Stacy Brown turned it into a $75 million business. In 2007, she was a divorced mother of three looking for a way to make ends meet. So she started making chicken salad in her kitchen and selling it out of a basket, door-to-door. READ MORE

Bitter dessert battle: A battle between two dessert companies — Mister Cookie Face and 600 lb Gorillas — is heating up in Boston’s federal courthouse. And it all started with an ice cream sandwich. 600 lb Gorillas Inc., a frozen all-natural dessert maker started by a Massachusetts couple, claims another business that supplied the ice cream for its sandwiches watered down the recipe, sending sales tumbling amid customer complaints the desserts had become “kind-of-icky tasting” and “tasteless.” READ MORE

More novichok? Another chemical weapons event occurred over the Fourth of July, according to news out of the UK. The agent has not been definitively identified. The two victims (a man and a  women) were seriously affected and showed life-threatening signs and symptoms consistent with nerve agents. British officials claimed the responsible agent was the same as used in the previous attack on a former Soviet intelligence officer that had defected to the UK, although some doubt has emerged about the identification of the agent and the exact nature of the events.  An alternative hypothesis involves an illicit drugs cocktail including an opiate such as fentanyl. READ MORE