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Category: Food and Nutrition

What Are You Doing For National Farmers Market Week?

National Farmers Market Week August 3-9 is a perfect time to make a trip to your local market.  Share your favorite part of the farmers market experience by tagging your photos with #FarmMktWk @USDA.

National Farmers Market Week August 3-9 is a perfect time to make a trip to your local market. Share your favorite part of the farmers market experience by tagging your photos with #FarmMktWk @USDA.

Every time I explore a farmers market I become a kid again. It brings back memories of snacking on sun-ripened figs from my backyard with dad or squeezing for perfectly ripe tomatoes at the neighborhood farm stand with mom. The existence, uniqueness and vibrancy of farmers markets can be a positive experience full of exploration and deliciousness for any age. It sure is for me.

USDA is committed to helping all of America’s children, families and communities not only have access to healthy affordable food, but form positive associations with these healthy foods. Visiting a farmers market offers a unique learning environment where you can be introduced to fresh, local produce; a variety of sights, tastes and smells; as well as meet neighbors, farmers and vendors. Read more »

In Colorado, Partnerships Bloom in Support of Regional Food Systems

Evan Premer, an Army veteran, inspects aeroponically grown greens at his family-owned Aero Farm in Denver, Colorado. Photo Credit: M. Kunz.

Evan Premer, an Army veteran, inspects aeroponically grown greens at his family-owned Aero Farm in Denver, Colorado. Photo Credit: M. Kunz.

This summer, USDA is highlighting partnerships to invest in the future of rural America. Our partners work with us year after year to leverage resources and grow economic opportunities. They are the key to ensuring our rural communities thrive. Follow more of our stories on Twitter at @USDA or using the hashtag #RuralPartners.

Strong local and regional food systems are anchored in durable relationships. The USDA is proud to work closely with organizations and individuals and other entities across the country who are dedicated to building the networks and infrastructure local food systems need.  One partnership in the making is with the Sustainable Agriculture and Food System Funders (SAFSF).  SAFSF is a network of over 85 grantmakers supporting sustainable agriculture and food systems. Established in 1991, SAFSF has been a philanthropic leader in local and regional food system development.

Recently, SAFSF held their 12th annual meeting in Denver, Colorado. The meeting allowed USDA Know Your Farmer Know Your Food team members to interact with foundation leaders as part of our ongoing effort to explore ways USDA programs can leverage non-government funds more strategically.  The agenda included site visits to local food projects where public-private partnerships can make a difference. Read more »

Food Banks Compete in Membership Drive for the U.S. Food Waste Challenge

Today, the USDA is joining with Feeding America to launch a friendly competition among the nation’s food banks to sign up the most participants in the U.S. Food Waste Challenge.  The food bank that registers the most donors as participants in the U.S. Food Waste Challenge will be honored in an event hosted by the Department of Agriculture.  The competition runs from July 22 to August 30.

Food Banks can get their donors and partners to join the competition by signing up for the U.S. Food Waste Challenge on Feeding America’s website. Read more »

Studies Find Widespread Student Acceptance of New Healthier School Lunches

School meals play a major role in shaping the diets and health of young people. FNS photo.

School meals play a major role in shaping the diets and health of young people. FNS photo.

With nearly 31 million students now participating in the National School Lunch Program each day, sound nutrition at school plays an essential role in supporting a healthier next generation.  But when the new standards were developed by pediatricians and other child nutrition experts, USDA was also looking for students to enjoy the healthier offerings they receive.

And according to a new report, the majority of our nation’s children are accepting these new school meals.  This great news is part of a just-released study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that finds 70 percent of elementary school leaders nationwide reported that students like the healthier school lunches that rolled out in fall 2012.  Other highlights of the research include: Read more »

Discovering U.S. Agriculture Products Abroad

Deputy Secretary Harden examines Pacific Northwest cherries on sale at the Jiangnan Fruit and Vegetable Wholesale Market in Guangzhou.

Deputy Secretary Harden examines Pacific Northwest cherries on sale at the Jiangnan Fruit and Vegetable Wholesale Market in Guangzhou.

U.S. agricultural exports are a bright spot in our economy – the past five years represent the strongest in history for agricultural trade.  We export everything from soybeans and dairy to specialty products and fresh produce, all adding up to revenue and jobs back home in the United States. On a recent trip to China, I was able to see the wide range of products we are exporting, met with Chinese importers of American agricultural products and visited USDA staff working to get U.S. products into the Chinese market.

China is the largest market for American agricultural products, accounting for nearly 20 percent of all foreign sales of U.S. exports. These exports include bulk commodities like soybeans, cotton and wheat, but a wide variety of specialty items are also bought, like ginseng and Washington cherries. The diversity of American agricultural products represented in China was very impressive, as well as the innovative ways U.S. products are being used overseas. Read more »

On the Road to Success for Local and Regional Food

Finding creative ways to navigate transportation issues is critical to meet the increasing demand for local and regional food. A new report by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service serves as a resource for strategies and solutions to help small- and mid-size farm operations, food hubs, agribusinesses and researchers solve these issues. Photo courtesy David Ingram

Finding creative ways to navigate transportation issues is critical to meet the increasing demand for local and regional food. A new report by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service serves as a resource for strategies and solutions to help small- and mid-size farm operations, food hubs, agribusinesses and researchers solve these issues. Photo courtesy David Ingram

Rivers, roads and rails—the shortest distance between two points is not always a straight line. Finding the best path forward can be difficult as city traffic gets worse each year, frustrating commuters and thwarting deliveries. Also in the transportation mix are farmers traveling the same roads trying to bring the freshest produce to city markets.  With the $7 billion-per-year market for local and regional food continuing to grow, more and more goods are being transported along local routes.

Developing creative ways to navigate transportation challenges is critical for farmers and consumers alike to meet the increasing demand for local and regional food.  Farmers relying on local and regional food systems may not have the scale or capacity to use established food freight systems. That’s why USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has taken a fresh look at food distribution issues, especially for the local and regional markets. Read more »