In the Name of Coronavirus Relief, Belgian Officials Are Asking Citizens to Eat Extra Fries

Twice-fried potatoes are a favorite snack in Belgian bars and restaurants.
Twice-fried potatoes are a favorite snack in Belgian bars and restaurants.
simona flamigni/iStock via Getty Images

Twice-fried potato wedges known as frites have long been a favorite side dish in Belgian bars and restaurants. But in the wake of the country's mandatory coronavirus-related shutdown that began on March 18, demand for frozen potato products has plummeted, and Belgium has found itself with a surplus of around 750,000 tons of potatoes. To keep the tasty tubers from going to waste, the government is calling on all its citizens to make certain dietary changes—namely, eating fries at least twice a week.

Since about 75 percent of Belgium’s potato industry is frozen potato products, the decreased demand from bars and restaurants is putting a major strain on the amount of freezer storage available to house the overflow. Officials are hoping people can help take the pressure off by upping their purchase of frozen fries from grocery stores.

“We’re working with supermarkets to see whether we can launch a campaign asking Belgians to do something for the sector by eating fries—especially frozen fries—twice a week during the coronavirus crisis,” Romain Cools, the secretary general of Belgapom, the nation’s potato industry association, told CNBC. “What we are trying to do is to avoid food waste, because every lost potato is a loss.”

To prevent as much loss as possible, Belgium is looking for other helpful and creative ways to unload some of its unprocessed potatoes. In addition to shipping potatoes to food banks and countries in Central Europe and Africa that are currently facing food shortages, manufacturers are also converting potatoes into animal feed and biofuel.

While upstanding citizens all over Belgium chow down on crispy frites in the name of coronavirus relief, find out just how far potatoes have come from their early (poisonous) days in the Andes Mountains here.

[h/t CNBC]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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More Than 38,000 Pounds of Ground Beef Has Been Recalled

Beef-ware.
Beef-ware.
Angele J, Pexels

Your lettuce-based summer salads are safe for the moment, but there are other products you should be careful about using these days: Certain brands of hand sanitizer, for example, have been recalled for containing methanol. And as Real Simple reports, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) recently recalled 38,406 pounds of ground beef.

When JBS Food Canada ULC shipped the beef over the border from its plant in Alberta, Canada, it somehow skirted the import reinspection process, so FSIS never verified that it met U.S. food safety standards. In other words, we don’t know if there’s anything wrong with it—and no reports of illness have been tied to it so far—but eating unapproved beef is simply not worth the risk.

The beef entered the country on July 13 as raw, frozen, boneless head meat products, and Balter Meat Company processed it into 80-pound boxes of ground beef. It was sent to holding locations in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina before heading to retailers that may not be specific to those four states. According to a press release, FSIS will post the list of retailers on its website after it confirms them.

In the meantime, it’s up to consumers to toss any ground beef with labels that match those here [PDF]. Keep an eye out for lot codes 2020A and 2030A, establishment number 11126, and use-or-freeze-by dates August 9 and August 10.

[h/t Real Simple]