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Breadfruit: Bad News for Mosquitoes

A female Aedes aegypti mosquito feeds on an artificial membrane loaded with a blood substitute as part of tests that have shown that natural compounds found in breadfruit flowers are highly effective at repelling biting bugs. (Photo by Peggy Greb, ARS)

A female Aedes aegypti mosquito feeds on an artificial membrane loaded with a blood substitute as part of tests that have shown that natural compounds found in breadfruit flowers are highly effective at repelling biting bugs. (Photo by Peggy Greb, ARS)

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

Breadfruit has been a hit in Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia for more than 3,000 years because of its many pluses:  This tropical staple food crop is plentiful and packed with nutrients.  It’s hailed by some as a possible solution to world hunger, but it could play a totally different—but equally important—role in saving lives.

Scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have found that breadfruit flowers contain three chemicals that work wonderfully for repelling flying insects, including mosquitoes.  In Hawaii and other regions, people have known for years that burning dried clusters of the flowers, known as “male inflorescences,” can keep bugs at bay. Read more »

La Gran Descongelación para el Día de Acción de Gracias

Uh, oh! El Día de Acción de Gracias está a la vuelta de la esquina. Usted compró un pavo en venta el año pasado y lo congeló. Usted sabe que está inocuo debido a que recientemente leyó que era seguro indefinidamente y que mantiene su calidad por un año. Pero lo que usted no sabe es cómo y dónde descongelarlo.

Primero que todo, el pavo no debe ser descongelado en las encimeras o en agua caliente. Estos métodos NO son considerados seguros y pudieran provocar enfermedades transmitidas por los alimentos. En adición, nunca descongele el pavo en el garaje, sótano, auto, en exteriores o en el balcón. El pavo, así como cualquier alimento perecedero, debe mantenerse a temperaturas inocuas durante “la gran descongelación”. Sino, en cuanto el pavo comience a descongelarse a temperaturas mayores a 40*F, las bacterias presentes antes de la congelación pueden comenzar a multiplicarse. Read more »

The Big Thaw for Thanksgiving

Uh, oh! Thanksgiving is right around the corner. You bought a turkey on sale last year and froze it. You know it’s safe because you recently read that frozen turkeys are safe indefinitely and keep good quality for a year. But what you don’t know is how or when to thaw it.

First of all, turkey should never be thawed on the counter or in hot water. These methods are NOT considered safe and may lead to foodborne illness. Also, never thaw a turkey in a garage, basement, car, on the kitchen counter, outdoors or on the porch. Turkey, as any perishable food, must be kept at a safe temperature during “the big thaw.” If not, once the turkey begins to thaw and becomes warmer than 40 °F, bacteria present before freezing can begin to multiply. Read more »

Join Us at the USDA Harvest Festival

The People's Garden Harvest Festival poster. Click to enlarge for larger version.

The People's Garden Harvest Festival poster. Click to enlarge for larger version.

You’re invited to the USDA Harvest Festival on Friday, November 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Come celebrate the end of the growing season in the People’s Garden and at the USDA Farmers Market. Take advantage of the last opportunity of the year to shop the outdoor USDA Farmers Market located along 12th Street, SW in between Jefferson Drive and Independence Avenue in Washington, DC.

The day will be filled with fun activities and educational demonstrations that are free and fun for the whole family. Here’s a list of the planned events: Read more »

Forest Service Celebrates Opening of Arboretum and Children’s Forest

The impressive entryway arch, by designer Mario Constantini, welcomes visitors to the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum. (Courtesy Milwaukee Urban Connections/ Jean Claassen)

The impressive entryway arch, by designer Mario Constantini, welcomes visitors to the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum. (Courtesy Milwaukee Urban Connections/ Jean Claassen)

The Forest Service recently celebrated the opening of the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum at the Urban Ecology Center – Riverside Park in Milwaukee.

In 2012, the USDA Forest Service, Eastern Region proudly joined Urban Ecology Center partners – the Rotary Club of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County Parks and the River Revitalization Foundation – in this exciting project.

The designation as a Forest Service’s Children’s Forest adds an element of wonder to the space. As visitors explore this outdoor play space, they will discover interpretive stations to help them forge a deeper connection with nature. Only one of 22 children’s forests throughout the country, this Milwaukee forest is one of only three located within a major urban area. Read more »

Natural Resources Conservation Service Salutes Staff for Service to Country & Conservation

Iraqi children are excited to see Mike Clayton, the man who provided a source of clean drinking water to their community.

Iraqi children are excited to see Mike Clayton, the man who provided a source of clean drinking water to their community.

Earlier this month the United States observed Veteran’s Day.  USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) proudly supports veterans and celebrates their service to country and conservation.

“We’re honored that so many veterans have chosen to come work for NRCS,” Chief Jason Weller said. “Their dedication, commitment and discipline are invaluable assets to our conservation mission.”

Kevin Shuey, NRCS contract specialist in North Carolina, is an Air Force veteran. He spent his last four years in the service teaching leadership skills to other airmen. Read more »