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MyPlate Holiday Makeover – Week 5

Julie’s Cranberry Chutney

Julie’s Cranberry Chutney

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

We love serving cranberry sauce as a sweet side with our holiday meals — but, traditional cranberry sauce can be a little too sweet. This year we decided to try something new – cranberry chutney.

This recipe for cranberry chutney was simple to prepare — all the ingredients go in one pot, and cook for about 30 minutes. And, to save time during the busy holiday season, it can be made 2-3 days in advance. Read more »

The Faces of Agriculture – A Glimpse of What the Farm Bill Means to Our Nation

Under Secretary Edward Avalos and John Lyman III, owner of Lyman Orchards, tour the orchard’s Apple Barrel Market in Middlefield, CT.  A Farm Bill is crucial to the long-term stability of family-owned farms and orchards.

Under Secretary Edward Avalos and John Lyman III, owner of Lyman Orchards, tour the orchard’s Apple Barrel Market in Middlefield, CT. A Farm Bill is crucial to the long-term stability of family-owned farms and orchards.

A life of farming—whether you grow up in it or are called to it later in life—takes a special kind of commitment and sense of responsibility. The reward is just as unique and appeals only to a handful of people who are willing to literally roll up their sleeves and work hard at a physically- and mentally-challenging job every day of the year. To me, there’s just something special about a profession where the fruits of your labor provide one of life’s most essential elements–food.

But that’s not where their contributions stop. Our nation’s farmers and ranchers strengthen our economy, with nearly one out of 12 jobs in the U.S. coming from agriculture.

Over the last year, I had the opportunity to visit and speak to farmers and ranchers across the country. During these visits, I get a chance to see first-hand how connected they are to their communities and the differences they make for the folks that live and work with them. And I also get to answer their questions directly, to hear the challenges they face and the help they could use. Inevitably, conversation turns to the Food, Farm, and Jobs Bill and what that legislation would mean to each of the farmers, ranchers, businesses and schools that depend on it. Read more »

Mail Order Madness: Sending and Receiving Those Food Gifts

It seems like the holidays come earlier every year. One way to reduce the stress of gift giving is to shop online or from catalogs. Food gifts are extremely popular because the recipient gets to enjoy the gift twice – first as a lovely gift, and second by serving and sharing it with family and friends.

The following food safety tips will help the purchaser and recipient determine if perishable foods they receive in the mail have been handled properly: Read more »

La Locura Por Correo: Enviando y Recibiendo los Regalos de Alimentos

Parece que los días navideños llegan más temprano cada año. Un modo de reducir la tensión de comprar regalos es hacer compras en línea o por catálogos. Los regalos de alimentos son muy populares porque el recipiente consigue disfrutar del regalo dos veces – primero como un regalo maravilloso y segundo sirviendo y compartiéndolo con familia y amigos.

Los siguientes pasos ayudarán al comprador y recipiente a determinar si la comida perecedera que ellos reciben en el correo haya sido manejada correctamente: Read more »

Volunteers Have Fossil Field Find on Forests and Grasslands

Tom Ludwig sits smiling about his discovery among other U.S. Forest Service Passport in Time volunteers while unearthing the 31 inch Triceratops horn core  continues. (U.S. Forest Service)

Tom Ludwig sits smiling about his discovery among other U.S. Forest Service Passport in Time volunteers while unearthing the 31 inch Triceratops horn core continues. (U.S. Forest Service)

Paleontologist Barbara Beasley’s voice filled with excitement as she described a recent dinosaur find on the Thunder Basin National Grassland in northeastern Wyoming.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our Passport in Time volunteers,” she said. “Mother Nature preserved and stored this treasure for more than 65 million years.”

Beasley led a group of 22 volunteers on a fossil excavation project at the Alkali Divide Paleontological Special Interest Area where volunteer Tom Ludwig found the nearly three-foot Triceratops horn. Read more »

For Flavor’s Sake: In New Mexico, Conservation Makes Things Peachy

Taylor Dale picks fresh cherry tomatoes grown in a hoop house to sell in the local farmer’s market in Santa Fe, N.M. USDA photo.

Taylor Dale picks fresh cherry tomatoes grown in a hoop house to sell in the local farmer’s market in Santa Fe, N.M. USDA photo.

Every single student in Santa Fe County Schools in New Mexico received a juicy, locally-grown organic peach for lunch on the first day of school last year from Freshies Farm.

On only a little more than three acres of land, Christopher Bassett and Taylor Dale were able to grow the peaches for the schools and still find time to support two young children of their own.

For this young couple, their land and the food they grow is their life. After working on farms for 10 years in everywhere from California to Colorado, Bassett and Dale finally bought their own. They settled at Freshies Farm, a slice of a larger orchard near Velarde, N.M. near the Rio Grande. Read more »