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The Food Safety Discovery Zone Hits the Bluegrass State!

Eastern Kentucky school children react enthusiastically to the hero, Thermy™ and BAC!® the villain at the USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone.

Eastern Kentucky school children react enthusiastically to the hero, Thermy™ and BAC!® the villain at the USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone.

The kids of eastern Kentucky have been getting a mega dose of food safety awareness this month. The USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone, a 40-foot long interactive exhibit on wheels, has been traveling throughout Rowan and Fayette Counties, teaching kids from seven schools how to keep them safe from foodborne illness. Additionally, the Food Safety Discovery Zone stopped at the Midway Fall Festival in Midway, Kentucky for an extra opportunity to blend education with fun while increasing food safety awareness. Read more »

West Virginia Farms Feeding Families

Audrey Rowe, USDA Deputy Administrator of Special Nutrition Programs, visits with Alicia Cowell and son Shawn at a West Virginia farmers’ market where the family is using WIC vouchers to help purchase fruits and vegetables.

Audrey Rowe, USDA Deputy Administrator of Special Nutrition Programs, visits with Alicia Powell and son Shawn at a West Virginia farmers’ market where the family is using WIC vouchers to help purchase fruits and vegetables.

I recently took a drive out to Martinsburg, West Virginia to visit Orr’s Farm Market .  The Orr’s market, like dozens in the area, stock fresh fruits and vegetables just harvested from the nearby fields and fertile orchards.  In fact, more than 95 percent of Orr’s produce is grown just feet from where I strolled: an impressive display of berries, sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes, and a wide assortment of peach varieties of every imaginable type.  But fresh and local produce isn’t all I found at Orr’s.  You see, this market, along with many more around the country, welcomes participants in USDA food and nutrition programs–and that is very good news. Read more »

USDA Promotes Breastfeeding

Audrey Rowe, USDA Deputy Administrator of Special Nutrition Programs, chats with the Shenandoah Valley Community Breastfeeding support group August 6 in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

Audrey Rowe, USDA Deputy Administrator of Special Nutrition Programs, chats with the Shenandoah Valley Community Breastfeeding support group August 6 in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

I recently had the pleasure to spend a little time with some expecting and nursing mothers in Martinsburg, West Virginia.  It was the first meeting of a newly formed community breastfeeding support group planned to coincide with World Breastfeeding Week.  My friend Mitch Greenbaum, Director of Shenandoah Valley WIC and Nutrition Services, and his team of trained WIC nutritionists, board-certified lactation consultants and breastfeeding peer counselors, hosted nearly two dozen pregnant and nursing mothers to talk about how important breastfeeding is for both mother and child and how to have a satisfying and healthy breastfeeding experience. Read more »

USDA Officials in the Midwest Look at Novel Ways to Create New Energy from Waste Material

An ethanol plant in Bairstown, Iowa, may soon begin producing fuel from waste materials.

An ethanol plant in Bairstown, Iowa, may soon begin producing fuel from waste materials.

After visiting a cutting-edge biofuels facility in rural Iowa recently, a group of USDA Rural Development state directors are thinking about the tremendous global implications of that plant. Read more »

Know Your Sooner, Know Your Food

Glynis Coleman and her son sell peppers and berries at a KYF2 Conference at the Kerr Center in Oklahoma.

Larry Wright leaned to his right and said, “I just realized that when I was up there introducing the conference, I forgot to tell everyone who I was.”Larry is the Oklahoma area coordinator for the Great Plains Resource Conservation and Development’s (RC&D) and worked tirelessly for five months planning a conference that would help build the rural communities his council serves.  After his first Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Conference and Gala more than 250 attendees know exactly what Larry does, and will be telling their friends about him, too. Read more »

Conservation on the Ground in Kansas

The hayrack provided transportation for those on the conservation tour. Rep. Moran stands in the field as he listens to John Bradley explain plans to improve the field on the left. John’s low-stress grazing system benefits both his cattle and the environment (and makes life a lot easier on him as well).

The hayrack provided transportation for those on the conservation tour. Rep. Moran stands in the field as he listens to John Bradley explain plans to improve the field on the left. John’s low-stress grazing system benefits both his cattle and the environment (and makes life a lot easier on him as well).

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is a federal agency that provides one-on-one conservation assistance to farmers, ranchers and other private landowners. We help landowners grow food and other crops in more efficient, environmentally friendly ways to protect the natural resources that we all depend upon—water, soil, air and wildlife. With 70 percent of land in the lower 48 states in private hands, the choices these landowners make truly determine the health of the environment. Read more »