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A Helping Hand for Those Who Serve

The following OpEd was posted by Huffington Post this afternoon:

Everywhere I go, I hear stories of seniors, veterans, and the working poor who use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This includes returned servicemen and women who spent holidays away from their families, missing major milestones while abroad in service to their country; previous generations who have worked hard to build our American infrastructure brick by brick; and even people working in the service industry across the nation. Read more »

Choosing the Best of ERS’s 2013 Popular Charts of Note

This is the top “Editors’ Pick” among the Charts of Note – a series provided online daily by the Economic Research Service. ERS editors selected the ten best from over 230 graphs and maps posted in 2013. Charts are provided daily on the web–and via email to those who subscribe to the daily series.

This is the top “Editors’ Pick” among the Charts of Note – a series provided online daily by the Economic Research Service. ERS editors selected the ten best from over 230 graphs and maps posted in 2013. Charts are provided daily on the web–and via email to those who subscribe to the daily series.

Did you know…

…that small family farms account for most U.S. farms and for a majority of farm assets?

…that nonmetro areas declined in population–perhaps for the first time–in 2011-12?

…or that the inflation-adjusted value of SNAP benefits declined from 2009 to 2011? Read more »

A Carton of Eggs – A True Baker’s Dozen

 

Get the Scoop on Eggs: a guide to USDA egg grades, labels, and common terms.  Click to see a larger version.

Get the Scoop on Eggs: a guide to USDA egg grades, labels, and common terms. Click to see a larger version.

The holiday season is a busy time of year for bakers and chefs.  From egg nog and cookie exchanges to fruit cakes and meringue pies, increased baking and gift-giving means you’ll need to know just what to look for when you buy one of your key ingredients…eggs. When shopping for eggs, consumers should look for the USDA Grade shield, for the ultimate assurance of quality.  For best results for pastries and baked goods, pay attention to the freshness of your eggs.

USDA grading of shell eggs is a voluntary service paid for by shell egg producers.  Eggs sold to consumers must be labeled with a grade.  Eggs that are not labeled with a USDA Grade Shield have not been officially graded by USDA standards.  Only eggs meeting strict USDA standards are allowed to be marketed with the USDA Grade Shield on the package.  Egg packers who do not use the USDA grading service may put terms such as “Grade AA” or “Grade A” on their cartons, but they may not use the USDA Grade Shield. Read more »

Lighten Up Your Holiday Dessert with MyPlate – MyPlate Holiday Makeover Week 6

Jean’s Banana Pudding Parfait

Jean’s Banana Pudding Parfait

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

I was first introduced to banana pudding, a traditional southern dessert, during the holidays when I moved to Virginia from North Dakota. It tasted great, but I remember leaving the dinner table with an uncomfortable, heavy feeling in my stomach. I decided to try and make the pudding lighter so that I could still enjoy it, but without the overstuffed feeling.

I must admit, I was skeptical about swapping all of the full fat ingredients for either reduced or nonfat versions. I was afraid that the taste would suffer and not resemble my favorite banana pudding recipe. Boy, was I wrong! I was surprised how good the “makeover” pudding tasted. Read more »

NEWSFLASH — Santa’s Reindeer Issued Permit from USDA to Enter the U.S.

BREAKING NEWS out of Washington DC as the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today issued a movement permit to Mr. S. Claus of the North Pole, a broker with Worldwide Gifts, Unlimited.  The permit will allow reindeer to enter and exit the United States between the hours of 6 PM December 24, 2013 and 6 AM December 25, 2013, through or over any northern border port.

“During this season of giving, USDA wants to do everything in its power to help Santa,” said Dr. John R. Clifford, USDA’s Chief Veterinary Officer.  “We agreed to waive the normal application fees and entry inspection/overtime costs, provided he winks his eye and wishes port personnel a Merry Christmas at the time of crossing.” Read more »

Going Ham for the Holidays

‘Tis the season for ham! If you’re a ham fan, this one’s for you. In addition to Easter, more hams are served during the winter holidays than any other time of year. Just visit friends or family and you’ll likely be offered this easy-to-prepare-and-serve smoky, tangy, pink meat.

Unfortunately, it is easy to contract a foodborne illness if you eat ham left out too long at room temperature or from other mishandling practices. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is recommending the following ham handling tips to keep guests and hosts safe at holiday gatherings. Read more »