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Category: Food and Nutrition

Secretary’s Column: USDA Science You Can See

While most people have a mental image of research that involves scientists in lab coats, bubbling test tubes and beakers, and technical language that can seem complex, much of the groundbreaking research conducted by USDA scientists actually ends up on your plate, in your home, or on your back. Their discoveries in the lab truly translate into science you can see.

For example, many of us make a conscious effort to eat healthier and cut calories, but it can be tough when faced with a favorite snack, like French fries. USDA scientists have figured out a way to make French fries healthier. Before frying, scientists exposed potato strips to a few minutes of infrared heat. This forms a crispy outer shell on the outside of the fries, which helps to reduce their oil uptake and ultimately reduces calories per serving. If adopted commercially, this method is great news for both food processors and our waistlines. Read more »

Coming Together to Improve Human Nutrition

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 the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

During the month of April we will take a closer look at USDA’s Groundbreaking Research for a Revitalized Rural America, highlighting ways USDA researchers are improving the lives of Americans in ways you might never imagine. For example, USDA research into behavioral economics as part of nutrition research to improve diet and health.

We’ve heard it all before: you are what you eat.  We’re fueled by what we consume, so it’s important to provide our bodies with nutritious food.  That’s why the agencies within USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area brought together some of the brightest minds at the Federal Government Nutrition Research Workshop last month. USDA Scientists joined forces with scientists and policy makers from other USDA agencies, Health and Human Services agencies, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Agency for International Development to discuss the importance of nutrition research. Read more »

MyPlate On Rutgers Campus

The RU Healthy Dining Team hosted a MyPlate nutrition education booth earlier this year. (Jenna Deinzer, Alexa Essenfeld, Nathalie Corres, Jesse Tannehill, Lindsay Yoakam, Rebecca Tonnessen, Taylor Palm, Mary Tursi, and Miranda Schlitt.)

The RU Healthy Dining Team hosted a MyPlate nutrition education booth earlier this year. (Jenna Deinzer, Alexa Essenfeld, Nathalie Corres, Jesse Tannehill, Lindsay Yoakam, Rebecca Tonnessen, Taylor Palm, Mary Tursi, and Miranda Schlitt.)

The MyPlate On Campus initiative, USDA’s effort to promote healthy eating on college campuses nationwide through peer-to-peer education, launched 1 year ago. In that time, nearly 2,000 students, representing all 50 states, have joined the cause by becoming MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors. It has been exciting to watch it grow and see the creative ways that students are bringing nutrition education to life on their campus. Read below about how one group of passionate students is helping to spread the MyPlate message:

By Rebecca Tonnessen and Alex Essenfeld, MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors at Rutgers University, New Jersey

As nutrition students at Rutgers University, we are all excited and passionate about being MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors. Working with dining services and the nutrition department in a joint effort to educate our peers, the RU Healthy Dining team strives to educate the Rutgers community through nutritional booths, newsletters, and outreach programs. As MyPlate Ambassadors and nutrition leaders, we integrate MyPlate into our activities. Our newsletters incorporate MyPlate tips and are distributed to our student body in the dining halls. Read more »

Grandparents Help Kids Develop Good Eating Habits

Grandchildren are a treasure.

Grandchildren are a treasure.

Grandkids are a grandparent’s greatest treasure.  From time to time during grandchildren’s young lives, grandparents may have the pleasure of being their caregiver.  Show them how to be healthy, including how to make healthy food choices–an important way grandparents show how much they love and care about their grandchildren.

As a proud grandmother, I can attest that grandkids learn by example!  They mimic everything you do, so be a healthy role model by taking care of yourself and they will learn to value healthy habits.  Use ChooseMyPlate.gov to guide your food choices and better understand the nutrition needs of young children in your life.  Take your grandchildren shopping at a farmer’s market and the grocery store.  Talk about the choices you are making—choosing the juicier oranges or the fresher vegetables.  Help them learn cooking skills, which will benefit them throughout their lives. Encourage them to be active throughout the day. Read more »

USDA Foods Get Even Greener

Lunch directors and school kids are giving USDA’s frozen broccoli the thumbs up, and we couldn’t be more pleased. Kathy Russell, School Food Service Director with Santa Gertrudis Independent School District located in Kingsville, Texas, praised the recent improvements in the USDA Foods.

Lunch directors and school kids are giving USDA’s frozen broccoli the thumbs up, and we couldn’t be more pleased. Kathy Russell, School Food Service Director with Santa Gertrudis Independent School District located in Kingsville, Texas, praised the recent improvements in the USDA Foods.

St. Patrick’s Day might be over, but at USDA we’re still sporting our green.  That’s because of the success of one food in particular—a vegetable underdog: broccoli!  As one of the newest additions to the USDA Foods lineup, AMS purchased 6.87 million pounds (nearly $7.6 million) of broccoli during FY 2013, and FY 2014 purchasing has been even more robust.

Each year, the AMS Commodity Procurement Staff (AMS-CP) spends nearly $2 billion on 2 billion pounds of frozen, processed, and fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish and eggs, otherwise known as USDA Foods.  The AMS-CP mission is to support American agriculture and promote domestic production by purchasing commodities, while meeting the needs of federal food assistance programs across the country. Read more »

Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Recipe Contest

Young chefs prepare food with First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary Vilsack.

Young chefs prepare food with First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary Vilsack.

Who will represent your state at the 3rd Annual White House Kids’ State Dinner?  It could be your child showing off his or her creativity and culinary talents in front of the First Lady and people from around the country.  First Lady Michelle Obama, the USDA, the U.S. Department of Education, and Epicurious have once again teamed up for the third annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge recipe contest.

Children ages 8 – 12 years old are invited to submit an original lunch recipe inspired by MyPlate. Young chefs can win the chance to attend the Kids’ “State Dinner” hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House in Washington, D.C.  The invited guests will include the Lunchtime Challenge winners and their parents from every state! Read more »