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Farm to School Programs Can Get Kids Familiar with Healthy Foods

Introducing students to healthy foods early on through farm to school programs is one way to reduce the amount of fruits and vegetables wasted in schools.

Introducing students to healthy foods early on through farm to school programs is one way to reduce the amount of fruits and vegetables wasted in schools.

October was National Farm to School Month and at FNS we ended on a high note. We released our very first nationwide assessment of farm to school activities and there was a lot of good news to be shared. The Farm to School Census showed that adoption of farm to school activities is trending up; many schools that do not currently have farm to school programs are planning to start them, and millions of children are being exposed to healthy foods and learning about where food comes from. In fact, in school year 2011-2012, schools invested over $350 Million in locally produced, healthy food.  This adds up to major benefits for American nutrition and local economies.

But the benefits don’t stop there.  In addition to creating new market opportunities for farmers and producers across the country, farm to school programs are a way to get students familiar with healthy foods so that they don’t throw those items away when they end up on their cafeteria tray. Read more »

US Capitol Christmas Tree has Deep Roots Connecting Americans

Only a massive tree will complement the expanse of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The selected tree is usually between 60 feet and 80 feet tall and holds tens of thousands of lights. The ornaments are made by people – mostly children in many cases – who live in the state where the tree is harvested. (Courtesy Architect of the Capitol)

Only a massive tree will complement the expanse of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The selected tree is usually between 60 feet and 80 feet tall and holds tens of thousands of lights. The ornaments are made by people – mostly children in many cases – who live in the state where the tree is harvested. (Courtesy Architect of the Capitol)

As the 88-foot Engelmann spruce is paraded into Washington, D.C., today, Nov. 25, it brings with it an annual tradition that has been rooted in history and shared by millions of Americans for decades.

The 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree is a gift from the Colville National Forest and people living in Washington State. The Washington community raised the money and support needed to help harvest, transport and decorate the tree that will stand on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol. They also helped with a collection of smaller trees for various offices in D.C.

The tree will be lit by Speaker of the House John Boehner during a ceremony at 5 p.m. Dec. 3. Read more »

Makeover Your Holiday Meals with MyPlate! – Week 2

MyPlate Holiday Makeover: Green Mashed Potatoes

MyPlate Holiday Makeover: Green Mashed Potatoes

The MyPlate Team continues to share “Makeover Monday” recipes each week on the USDA blog and the MyPlate Facebook page through January 6th.

This recipe was originally created for another festive day.  But everyone loved “green-mash” potatoes so much that this family favorite became part of our Thanksgiving Feast.

Since my family has an Irish ancestry, we first started making this Green-Mash Potatoes Recipe for St. Patrick’s Day.  Green peas add a slightly sweet flavor, and the garlic and pepper gives it some zip.  The white pepper is optional, especially if serving to little kids.  A sprinkle of Kosher salt on top brings out the flavors, yet the sodium is much lower than traditional mashed potatoes.  And also, kids think the chartreuse-green color is fun! Read more »

Hay Más Que Una Manera de Cocinar el Pavo

La necesidad de velocidad. Carencia de espacio de horno. Tradiciones de familia. Cortes de corriente. Todos son motivos por cual muchos cocineros podrían buscar nuevos modos de asar el pavo entero fuera del horno. Considere los métodos siguientes sugeridos por la Línea de Información Sobre Carnes y Aves.

Pero primero, un mensaje sobre la inocuidad de los alimentos. Cualquier método que usted use para traer su pavo a la mesa, tenga un termómetro de alimento al alcance. Con el termómetro usted puede asegurar que el pavo ha alcanzado la temperatura interna mínima de 165 °F en la parte íntima del muslo, ala y la parte más gruesa del pecho. Si su pavo esta rellenado, el centro del relleno también debería alcanzar 165 °F. Después de cocinar,  permita un tiempo de reposo de 20 minutos antes de rebanar el pavo. Read more »

There’s More than One Way to Cook a Turkey

The need for speed. Lack of oven space. Family traditions. Power outages. All are reasons many cooks might look for ways to roast a whole turkey outside the usual oven. Consider the following methods suggested by the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline.

But first, a message about food safety. No matter which method you choose to get your turkey to the table, have a food thermometer handy so you can make sure the turkey has reached the safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F in the innermost part of the thigh, wing and the thickest part of the breast.  If your turkey is stuffed, the center of the stuffing should also reach 165 °F. After cooking, let the turkey stand for 20 minutes before carving. Read more »

USDA Funding Provides a Broadband Lift to Part of Rural Oklahoma

Oklahoma Rural Development State Director Ryan McMullen  joins project representatives, elected officials, and community representatives to cut a ribbon officially declaring the completion of the 1st of 30 towers, comprising the new broadband network. USDA photo.

Oklahoma Rural Development State Director Ryan McMullen joins project representatives, elected officials, and community representatives to cut a ribbon officially declaring the completion of the 1st of 30 towers, comprising the new broadband network. USDA photo.

Reinforcing USDA’s commitment to connecting rural America to the global economy, Oklahoma USDA Rural Development State Director Ryan McMullen, cut the ribbon on a new high-speed internet network, projected to serve more than 4,000 rural Oklahoma residents, many of them Native American, and 1,400 businesses.

The Oklahoma-owned company, @Atlink, that secured the funding for the project, hosted the event at the site of the completion of their first of thirty towers.   The new, vast network will span from I-35 near Ardmore, to the northeast to Sapulpa, while covering sprawling areas between Pauls Valley and Muskogee.  @Atlink secured $8 million for this project through the USDA Broadband Initiatives Program.  The funding for their loan/grant combination was provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Read more »