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Discovering the Health Benefits of Wine Grape Seeds

WholeVine gluten-free Chardonnay grape seed flour bag beside a plate of cookies and a bottle of wine with red and white grapes behind them

Research by USDA-ARS scientists and cooperative partner, WholeVine Products, have shown that Chardonnay grape seed flours reduce cholesterol and weight gain in lab studies. USDA-ARS photo by Peggy Greb.

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.

What happens to seeds from wine grapes? They’re typically put in compost, mixed in cattle feed, or dumped in landfills. But this may be seen as a waste for bakers who like cooking with specialty ingredients and those of us who are looking for foods that could benefit our health.

The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is partnering with WholeVine Products in Sonoma, California, to explore the health benefits of unique wine grape seed flours, which can be used in breads, cookies, crackers and other goodies. Read more »

Bringing More Farmers Markets to Service Members

Guide for Farmers Markets on Military Installations

The cover of the new Guide for Farmers Markets on Military Installations, which is filled with effective strategies to bring farmers markets’ community spirit and local food to service members and their families stationed at installations across the country.

As we take time this week to honor America’s veterans, we are also thinking about how we can improve the health and welfare of military communities across the country.  That’s why we are so proud to release the first-ever Guide for Farmers Markets on Military Installations.  By assisting military installations in establishing farmers markets, the guide will help increase access to fresh, local food for soldiers on military installations.  On-base farmers markets also connect members of the military with their surrounding communities and offer family-friendly gathering places where children can learn where their food comes from.

In a truly collaborative effort, my agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), created this detailed manual with the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) Healthy Base Initiative (HBI), and in partnership with Wholesome Wave.  It explains how commanders can establish and successfully operate farmers markets on military installations. Read more »

Organic Sound and Sensible Resources: Why Go Organic and Where to Start

Matthew Raiford

Growers like Matthew Raiford discuss what organic means to them. The new online resources will help producers better understand the organic option and where to start.

Last week, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s National Organic Program (NOP) announced new resources resulting from our Sound and Sensible Initiative, which is aimed at making organic certification more accessible, affordable, and attainable. Today, we are introducing guides, videos, and other tools – all produced by our partners in the organic community – that will help producers better understand the organic option and where to start. Read more »

A Giant Christmas Tree’s 4000 Mile Journey from Alaska to Capitol Hill

Lutz spruce below the white crane arm in front of mountains and beside trees

Center, just below the white crane arm, is the towering Lutz spruce which will soon adorn the West Lawn of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Chugach National Forest, U.S. Forest Service)

For over 90 years the majestic Lutz spruce stood silently in the Chugach National Forest near Seward, Alaska.

Hidden from most tourists, except intrepid hikers, the spruce, as high as a seven story building, would have aged in obscurity but for a stroke of luck: this Lutz spruce was chosen among the more than five million acres of the Chugach’s wooded forests to be the proverbial “People’s Tree” and grace the slope of the West Lawn on Capitol Hill just beneath the soaring white dome that unites both wings of Congress. Read more »

Volunteers Put Down Roots to Keep Kenai Peninsula Stream Banks Healthy

Fishermen on a backwater channel of the Kenai River

The Stream Watch Volunteer Program reaches out to many fishermen who congregate on the Kenai Peninsula each summer season for the annual salmon runs. These enthusiasts are fishing on a backwater channel of the Kenai River just downstream of the Kenai/Russian Rivers confluence. (Photo courtesy of Ron Neibrugge)

The river banks of the Upper Kenai and Russian Rivers in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula are known to attract some of the most avid fishermen. In the last couple decades, they have also lured a growing number of citizen volunteers who are equally passionate about an environmental stewardship mission to protect them.

The diverse system of plants that grow along the two rivers and their stream beds control erosion and help filter and keep those waters clean. But over decades of use, the numbers of anglers visiting these special places have left their mark. Read more »

USDA California Regional Climate Hub – Champions of Change

Jesse Sanchez evaluating soil

Jesse Sanchez evaluating soil.

The White House recently recognized 12 Champions of Change for their leadership in sustainable and climate-smart agriculture. This week we will meet them through their USDA Regional Climate Hub, today featuring California’s Jesus “Jesse” Sanchez.

California is the nation’s number one agricultural production state with revenues of over $46 billion in 2013. State farmers and ranchers produce a diverse array of specialty crops, field crops, and livestock products. The top five by value in 2013 were milk, almonds, grapes, cattle and calves, and strawberries.

California is also home to more than 30 million acres of forested land, including many ecologically unique and economically important forest types as well as more than 40 million acres of rangeland. The state’s forests and grasslands, like those of other Western states, have long been shaped by fire and drought. California’s precipitation is highly variable from year to year and ranges from 60” on the North Coast to just a few inches in the southern deserts. Read more »