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An Open Look at How FSIS Enforces the Humane Handling of Livestock

Last week, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service posted on the agency’s web site copies of recent letters that were sent to plants facing enforcement actions for inhumanely treating animals. Posting these humane handling enforcement letters on the web enhances the transparency component of this process and provides the public a clearer understanding of the types of behavior and conditions that warrant enforcement action by FSIS.  This effort is part of a commitment made last year by FSIS to implement new measures to ensure the humane treatment of animals at establishments we regulate.

These letters can be accessed in the agency’s online FOIA reading room and are categorized according to each plant’s designated establishment number, which can be found inside the USDA mark of inspection on food packages at the grocery store. When inhumane handling conditions are encountered, FSIS personnel continue to take action until plant management resolves the problem, often through employee training and facility improvements. Any follow-up correspondence sent to plants also can be accessed in the online FOIA reading room. Read more »

Fort Valley Experimental Forest: First in the Nation to Discover the Effects of a Changing Climate on Pines

Back when Arizona was designated a U.S. territory, scientists had already been exploring its vast landscapes which start from nearly sea level and climb to over 12,000 feet. They were paying particular attention to Arizona’s diverse vegetation and climate.

In 1889, biologist C. Hart Merriam traversed northern Arizona and found six of the seven world life zones he would later describe by latitude and elevation. The existence of such varied life zones across a short distance, and often with just a few hundred feet of elevation change, fascinated scientists. One particular life zone, the extensive stands of ponderosa pine growing at higher elevations from west of Flagstaff, AZ, eastward into New Mexico was particularly interesting to scientists and foresters. Read more »

An All-of-the-Above Approach to Energy in America

America needs and is developing a reliable, sustainable, fuel supply. If we are able to produce more of it here at home – rather than relying on foreign oil – we’ll generate good, middle-class jobs and strengthen our economy in the long run.  That is why USDA and the Obama administration are working with private industry to pursue an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy to promote American-produced renewable energy coupled with oil production.

Today, biofuels are being developed using not just corn, but corn stover, soybeans, switchgrass, wood, camelina, energy cane, municipal solid waste, yellow oils, algae, and a host of other non-food feedstocks growing across the country. Read more »

University of Georgia Research Sheds Light on How Plant Cell Walls May Impact Biofuel Production

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

One of the keys to improving biofuel production is to understand how plants are made and function. Two researchers from the University of Georgia (UGA)  have made strides in understanding how plant cell walls are made, opening a new door to converting plants to biofuels and other carbon-based products.

UGA researcher Debra Mohnen and her team discovered that two proteins (GAUT1 and GAUT7) come together in an unexpected way to make a carbohydrate, or a chain of sugar molecules, in plant cell walls. The work was funded through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Read more »

Salsa, Sabor y Salud: Miplato Celebra la Fortaleza de las Tradiciones Latinas

¿Cómo está celebrando usted el mes nacional de la nutrición?  Una manera fácil de incorporar la nutrición sana en su vida es hacer de MiPlato su plato.  Usted puede hacerlo en su propia mesa, y también puede ayudar a otros a hacerlo.  Comunidades a través del país están utilizando el plato hace tiempo para educar a los niños sobre cómo crear platos saludables y divertidos, que celebran las diversas culturas de las comunidades en los Estados Unidos.

Por ejemplo, Salsa, Sabor y Salud se ha  utilizado desde el año 2002 para enseñarle a estudiantes de escuelas primarias en qué consiste un plato saludable. Este es un programa bilingüe de nutrición creado por el Instituto Nacional para Niños Latinos (NLCI, por sus siglas en inglés), una  organización sin fines de lucro.  NLCI creó El Plato Saludable utilizando en ese entonces el modelo de MiPirámide para enseñar a los niños sobre los grupos básicos de alimentos.  Como resultado,  este programa innovador ha educado a más de 35,000 Latinos en 28 estados y Puerto Rico en los últimos diez años.  El año pasado, NLCI colaboró con el YMCA para desarrollar clases de nutrición en más de 90 YMCAs alrededor del país.  Este ao, tienen planes de expander el programa a otros 40 YMCAs. Read more »

Salsa, Sabor y Salud: MiPlato Celebrates the Strengths of Latino Traditions

How are you celebrating National Nutrition Month? An easy way to incorporate great nutrition every day is to make MyPlate your plate. You can do that at your own dining table, and you can also help others do so, as well. People across the country have been doing that for a long time by using the plate method to educate kids about building healthy, fun plates that celebrate America’s many cultures and communities.

For example, Salsa, Sabor y Salud has been teaching elementary students about healthy plates since 2002. It is a bilingual nutrition education program created by the non-profit National Latino Children’s Institute (NLCI).  Using USDA’s “My Pyramid,” the program created “El Plato Saludable” (“The Healthy Plate”) to teach students each food group. Through this innovative program, more than 35,000 Latinos in 28 states and Puerto Rico participated in nutrition education classes over the past decade.  Last year, NLCI partnered with the YMCA in order to expand nutrition education classes to 90 YMCAs across the country. This year, NCLI plans to expand their nutrition education classes into 40 more YMCAs. Read more »