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The Shape of Things That Have Been: the Power of Sacred Sites

Tim Mentz Sr., Standing Rock Sioux cultural resource expert, explains the historical significance of the area that is now the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota. (U.S. Forest Service/Fred Clark)

Tim Mentz Sr., Standing Rock Sioux cultural resource expert, explains the historical significance of the area that is now the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota. (U.S. Forest Service/Fred Clark)

Our curiosity was palpable in our expressions, we visitors to this South Dakota field, as we pondered the patterns produced by the tops of rocks pressed into grass and soil, patterns tantalizingly organized and purposeful: shapes of things that have been. What stories were held in this small corner of the Black Hills National Forest?

As members of the Forest Service’s sacred sites executive and core teams, our task is to develop ways to fulfill the recommendations from the Report to the Secretary of Agriculture: USDA Policy and Procedures Review and Recommendations: Indian Sacred Sites.

Visiting this sacred place was the starting point of our learning and working together as a team. We needed to experience firsthand the feeling and meaning of this place to help us incorporate an appropriate attitude as we started three days of meetings on how to best implement the recommendations, to better protect and provide access to Indian sacred sites. Read more »

Super Bowl, Slow Cookers, and Food Safety: An Unbeatable Team

Most of the year, my slow cooker stays on the shelf in my kitchen, but, when the Super Bowl approaches, I pull it out to make chili, meatballs, or other hot party foods. The thing that I love about a slow cooker is that it can cook food safely and help me save time while I’m busy preparing for the big game.

This time of year, the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline receives lots of questions related to slow cooking. Sometimes we hear about really scary mistakes that people make when they’re preparing slow cooked food. To make sure that you and your party guests stay safe, I wanted to share a few of these slow cooker questions and answers. Read more »

El Super Bowl, las Ollas de Cocción Lenta, e Inocuidad Alimentaria: Un Equipo Invencible

Por la mayoría del año, mi olla de cocción lenta se queda guardada en un anaquel en mi cocina. Pero, cuando se acerca el día del Super Bowl, la saco y empiezo a cocinar chili con carne, albóndigas u otras comidas calientes de fiesta. Lo que me más gusta de mi olla es que puede cocinar los alimentos inocuamente y a la misma vez me permite ahorrar tiempo cuando me ocupo preparándome para el gran juego.

Durante esta época del año, La Línea de Carnes y Aves del USDA recibe muchas preguntas acerca de las ollas de cocción lenta. A veces escuchamos historias de errores espantosos que cometen personas cuando están preparando alimentos por cocción lenta. Para asegurar que usted y sus invitados estén fuera del riesgo de intoxicación de alimentos, aquí tienen algunas preguntas comunes con las respuestas correspondientes. Read more »

From Granddad’s Garden to Global Food Security

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.

As a boy, Steven Cannon helped his grandfather in the garden grafting fruit trees, all the while developing an interest in plants. As an adult, Cannon has followed in his grandfather’s footsteps, working with USDA as a scientist—but only after first taking a different, though ultimately, complementary career path.

After graduating college, Cannon worked various jobs, including one as an educational software designer that used his knack for computing.  In 2000, he rekindled his early interest in plant biology, earning a PhD and practical experience as a postdoctoral researcher assigned to a genome mapping project. In 2006, he accepted a position as a plant geneticist with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research Unit in Ames, Iowa. Read more »

Year’s First National Water Forecast Predicts Limited Supply West of the Continental Divide

NRCS Oregon hydrologists Melissa Webb and Julie Koeberle measure snow on Mount Hood, Ore. (NRCS photo)

NRCS Oregon hydrologists Melissa Webb and Julie Koeberle measure snow on Mount Hood, Ore. (NRCS photo)

A limited water supply is predicted west of the Continental Divide, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) National Water and Climate Center (NWCC) data in its first forecast in 2014.

The NWCC also predicts normal water supply east of the Continental Divide and will continue to monitor, forecast and update water supplies for the next six months.

Monitoring snowpack of 13 western states, the center’s mission is to help the West prepare for spring and summer snowmelt and streamflow by providing periodic forecasts. It’s a tool for farmers, ranchers, water managers, communities and recreational users to make informed, science-based decisions about future water availability. Read more »

From Small Potatoes to 36,000 Pounds of Carrots: Farm to School Grows

On January 15th, Growing Power’s Will Allen joined Chicago Public School, Aramark, FarmLogix and USDA staff to celebrate 36,000 pounds of carrots grown locally and served to Chicago students.

On January 15th, Growing Power’s Will Allen joined Chicago Public School, Aramark, FarmLogix and USDA staff to celebrate 36,000 pounds of carrots grown locally and served to Chicago students.

In the past few years I’ve seen an increasing number of news stories about successful farm to school programs. As reflected in the first USDA Farm to School Census, farm to school programs are thriving from Alaska to Florida and in every state between.

I attended a recent event that demonstrates just how quickly—and by what lengths—farm to school is growing. On January 15th, students in all Chicago Public Schools (CPS) were served sliced carrots grown at a farm only 90 miles away in Milwaukee. Read more »