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Decrease Wildfire Risks by Choosing the Right Plants

A grass fire burns across eastern Washington.

A grass fire burns across eastern Washington.

Land begins to recover one year after emergency reseeding following the Los Alamos fires in New Mexico. Some of the species planted for erosion control and habitat improvement were prairie junegrass, slender wheatgrass, mountain brome, three awn, gambel's oak and mountain mahogany.

Land begins to recover one year after emergency reseeding following the Los Alamos fires in New Mexico. Some of the species planted for erosion control and habitat improvement were prairie junegrass, slender wheatgrass, mountain brome, three awn, gambel's oak and mountain mahogany.

Traveling at speeds up to 14 mph, wildfires can quickly ravish landscapes and homesteads. Experts with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, (NRCS) are studying what plants can slow fire rather than fuel it.

NRCS’ Plant Materials Centers evaluate and study plants, including those that can reduce fire damage or losses, helping keep people, property and natural resources safe. These centers, located across the United States, can provide information on the type plant best suited for an area given factors such as geography and climate. Read more »

USDA’s What’s Cooking website serves up cost effective, healthy recipes

What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl is a new interactive tool featuring USDA recipes to encourage budget-friendly and nutritious meals.

What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl is a new interactive tool featuring USDA recipes to encourage budget-friendly and nutritious meals.

The busy holiday season has begun and families everywhere are starting to plan ahead.  If you’re looking for easy to make, nutritious family meals that you can cook quickly on a tight budget, USDA is here to help with a new web tool, called What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl.

As Americans prepare for the annual holiday harvest that is Thanksgiving, the American Farm Bureau Federation estimates they can expect to spend an average of $49.04 on a meal for a family of 10.  Our What’s Cooking? tool offers families lower cost alternatives, not just for the holidays but for every day. Read more »

Southeast Alaska Trail Crew’s Work on Footbridge Links Generations, Cultures

 

A new foot bridge near the tribal village of Angoon on Admiralty Island National Monument is part of a Tongass National Forest and Youth Conservation Corps partnership. From left, Tribal Liaison Donald Frank, Angoon Trail Crew Leader Aaron McCluskey, Youth Conservation Corps member Roger Williams, also an Angoon tribal member, and Admiralty Island National Monument Ranger Chad VanOrmer pause work to celebrate the bridge’s construction and the agency’s successful Corps partnership with the Angoon Tribe. (U.S. Forest Service/Jeff Miller)

A new foot bridge near the tribal village of Angoon on Admiralty Island National Monument is part of a Tongass National Forest and Youth Conservation Corps partnership. From left, Tribal Liaison Donald Frank, Angoon Trail Crew Leader Aaron McCluskey, Youth Conservation Corps member Roger Williams, also an Angoon tribal member, and Admiralty Island National Monument Ranger Chad VanOrmer pause work to celebrate the bridge’s construction and the agency’s successful Corps partnership with the Angoon Tribe. (U.S. Forest Service/Jeff Miller)

Moss and lichen grew fast on this Tongass National Forest recently built foot bridge due to the unique conditions of Southeast Alaska’s temperate rainforest.  Here, the annual rainfall is measured in feet instead of inches.  Some places get more than 15 feet a year. (U.S. Forest Service/Jeff Miller)

Moss and lichen grew fast on this Tongass National Forest recently built foot bridge due to the unique conditions of Southeast Alaska’s temperate rainforest. Here, the annual rainfall is measured in feet instead of inches. Some places get more than 15 feet a year. (U.S. Forest Service/Jeff Miller)

On a boggy section of single-track trail outside the Southeast Alaska tribal community of Angoon, two men are building a bridge on Admiralty Island National Monument that does much more than simply cross 10 yards of boot-eating muck. This unassuming wooden span is connecting generations, cultures and governments while symbolizing a shared path forward for the Tongass National Forest and Southeast Alaska communities.

The bridge and trail are a vital link in the Cross Admiralty Canoe Route, a 32-mile series of lakes and trail portages that allows backcountry canoeists, kayakers and others to traverse the island. But while the Civilian Conservation Corps established the modern route in the 1930s, the path it follows was not news to the island’s residents, according to Donald Frank, tribal liaison for the national monument. Read more »

Turkey Tips Step 2: Preparing Your Feast

 

3 ways to thaw: Be food safe this Thanksgiving Holiday.

3 ways to thaw: Be food safe this Thanksgiving Holiday.

Preparing for Thanksgiving can become hectic. On Tuesday we tried to make your trip to the grocery store a little easier, by explaining the labels you’ll find on turkeys for sale. Now that you have your bird, you’re probably thinking about putting your game face on and getting that meal ready.

In between trying to convince your 21-year-old nephew to sit at the kid’s table (because there’s no room at the adult table) and figuring out how you’ll answer your relatives’ questions about where your current relationship is going, we want to help you prepare your meal. With such thoughts possibly running through your head, proper food safety practices are sometimes treated like pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving: always required but too often ignored and overshadowed. Read more »

The Many Reasons USDA is Celebrating 50 Years of SNAP

SNAP continues to serve as the first line of defense against hunger in the United States.

SNAP continues to serve as the first line of defense against hunger in the United States.

Half a century ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Food Stamp Act of 1964, making the Food Stamp Program (FSP), which at the time was a series of pilot projects, permanent. Despite the post-World War II economic boom felt by many Americans, some rural and urban areas of the country experienced extreme poverty as well as limited access to nutritious, affordable food. The Food Stamp Act of 1964 was an important component in President Johnson’s effort to eliminate poverty. This year, we not only mark 50 years of SNAP as a nationwide program, but we also recognize the lasting changes it has produced in both the economy and the nutrition habits of Americans. 

In those early days, the FSP reached families living in deprived areas and served a dual purpose.  It strengthened the agricultural economy, while also providing improved levels of nutrition among low-income households. Even though the FSP was renamed Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 2008, its mission is the same. SNAP continues to serve as the first line of defense against hunger in the United States while supporting the economy. Read more »

Giving Thanks to Local Farmers

Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to say thank you to your local farmer and to showcase local ingredients in your holiday favorites.  Photo courtesy Diane Cordell

Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to say thank you to your local farmer and to showcase local ingredients in your holiday favorites. Photo courtesy Diane Cordell

An array of colors is on display at local farmers markets with products like stunning purple Graffiti cauliflower. New varieties can add a new—and local—twist to traditional dishes on your Thanksgiving table. Photo courtesy Dan Bruell

An array of colors is on display at local farmers markets with products like stunning purple Graffiti cauliflower. New varieties can add a new—and local—twist to traditional dishes on your Thanksgiving table. Photo courtesy Dan Bruell

On Thanksgiving, friends, families and communities come together across America to give thanks and celebrate the autumn harvest.  I love the opportunity to reflect on all that I am grateful for, including the  hard-working farmers and ranchers who provide the delicious and nutritious food for the Thanksgiving table.  I also enjoy making my favorite traditional dishes with fresh, local ingredients that support the farmers and ranchers in my own community.

Secretary Vilsack has identified local and regional food systems as one of four pillars of USDA’s work to help revitalize the rural economy, create jobs and improve access to fresh, healthy food for millions of Americans.   Buying local supports the farmers and small businesses in your community, making it the perfect way to say thank you. Read more »