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Social Media Buzz for MyPlate’s 2nd Birthday

For MyPlate’s 2nd birthday on June 2, 2013, USDA is using the power of social media to throw a month- long virtual party.  Everyone is invited to participate and help celebrate the success of USDA’s MyPlate on the new MyPlate Facebook page.  Log on to www.facebook.com/myplate from June 2 through the end of the month and wish MyPlate a healthy Happy Birthday!

MyPlate’s birthday wish is to increase its Facebook fan base so that even more people can learn about MyPlate and healthy eating.  The MyPlate Facebook page will have a new birthday cover photo and birthday related posts all week long.  Fans, partners, and other federal agencies are also being encouraged to use blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram to help celebrate this happy milestone. The event hashtag is #MyPlateBirthday. Read more »

Livestock Statistician Knows Data Matter to Many

2013 is the International Year of Statistics. As part of this global event, every month this year USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will profile careers of individuals who are making significant contributions to improve agricultural statistics in the United States.

Growing up on a small general crop and livestock farm in central Minnesota cultivated my enthusiasm for agriculture. Even then I knew I wanted to do something related to agriculture but I also knew the value of getting a good education. I attended the University of Minnesota to earn my undergraduate degree, after which I earned a Master of Science degree at North Dakota State University.

College provided me with skills in mathematics and agriculture but like most college graduates, no job. This is where the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) came into the picture. I joined the agency’s North Dakota field office as an agricultural statistician, allowing me to keep in touch with agriculture. Next I worked in the Idaho field office and then on to Washington, D.C. where I worked in both crops and livestock areas, finally settling into my current position as Chief of the Livestock Branch in 2001. Read more »

Food Waste: The Problem May be Bigger Than You Think

Think big.  Think Sear’s Tower big and then multiply by 44.

That is approximately the volume of food that is lost from the U.S. food supply annually at retail food stores, restaurants, and homes combined.

Now think of all the labor, land, water, fertilizer, and other inputs that went into growing that food. It would take far more than a mega-city of skyscrapers to contain it all.  Production of wasted food pulls all these resources away from uses that may be more beneficial to society – and it generates impacts on the environment that may endanger the long-run health of the planet.  The environmental footprint of food waste starts at agricultural production and extends through to food processing, transportation, retail, preparation and/or disposal, depending on where along the way the food is discarded. Read more »

Did You Just Toss that Carrot Stick Away?

Did you throw away any food today? If so, you are not alone.

Many of us struggle to store or use up the last of the leftovers or think of something edible to do with those shriveled vegetables at the bottom of the chiller drawer.  In fact, in 2010, 133 billion pounds of food in U.S. retail food stores, restaurants, and homes never made it into people’s stomachs. An estimated 30 to 40 percent of the food supply in the U.S. is wasted, in that it never reaches the intended consumers.  Unfortunately, the decision to purchase and then discard food has some serious ramifications for the environment and for food security.

Together, we can do something about this.  On June 4th – the day before World Environment Day – USDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will launch the U.S. Food Waste Challenge and call on organizations spanning the food supply chain to join the fight against food waste.  Together we can help reduce the amount of food that is sent to our landfills and increase the amounts that are recovered to help families in need. Read more »

Food Safety Tips for Those Impacted by Storms

Following a disaster, those affected should be aware of these safety tips:

Anyone with questions about the safety of their food as a result of weather damage and power outages is encouraged to call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline (888-MPHotline), available in English and Spanish from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. CDT.

Ask Karen, FSIS’ virtual food safety representative who has the answers to nearly 1,500 food safety questions, is available 24/7 from your smartphone at m.AskKaren.gov, also in English and Spanish. Ask Karen can be downloaded for free for iOS and Android devices. Read more »

All That Glitters Is Not Gold ….

Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week  is May 19-25. David Cappaert, Michigan State University.

Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week is May 19-25. David Cappaert, Michigan State University.

In this case it is green, a brilliant emerald green, and it is chomping its way through America’s forests. The emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis, may look pretty, but it is killing our ash trees in our forests and backyards.

This is Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week (May 19-25) and the time of year when you might see adult beetles flitting about among your ash trees. It is also the time of year you may unknowingly move this pest if you pack firewood when you kick off the summer camping season.  Read more »