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First Winter Crop Deemed a Success with New High Tunnel

Mildred Griggs of Marianna, Ark., installed a seasonal high tunnel through the USDA StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity.

Mildred Griggs of Marianna, Ark., installed a seasonal high tunnel through the USDA StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity.

Mildred Griggs, of Marianna, Ark., wasn’t looking for bragging rights when she installed her new seasonal high tunnel, last year, but that’s what she earned this spring after harvesting her first winter vegetable crop.

“We had the best salad green mix in the region,” says Griggs.

With the high tunnel, Griggs was able to extend her fall growing season of fresh produce into the winter months. Her harvest included lettuce, spinach, beets, carrots and greens. Read more »

Lower-fat French Fries? You Bet!

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 USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Americans love, love, love their spuds:  In 2010, per capita consumption of potatoes in the U.S. hit almost 114 pounds, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. One of our favorite ways to dish up this versatile veggie is in the form of French fries.

Of course, deep-frying those potato slices to golden crispness adds extra calories from the oil.  But what if you could indulge your French fry craving with fewer calories? And what if the technique to achieve that was more environmentally friendly than conventional fry preparation? Read more »

Nationwide Census on Farm to School Activities Shows Promising Results

USDA Census shows healthy habits are taking root across the country.

USDA Census shows healthy habits are taking root across the country.

When students have experiences such as tending a school garden or visiting a farm they’ll be more likely to make healthy choices in the cafeteria. And when schools invest their food dollars in their local communities, all of agriculture benefits, including local farmers, ranchers, fishermen, food processors and manufacturers.

Good news: these healthy habits are taking root all across the country.

USDA released today results from a nationwide Census of farm to school activities. We found that 43 percent of all public school districts have an existing farm to school program in place. Another 13 percent of school districts surveyed are committed to launching a farm to school program in the near future. With purchasing local food as a primary farm to school activity, in school year 2011-2012, schools purchased and served over $350 million in local food. Read more »