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Category: Food and Nutrition

On the Road in Santa Fe – Saluting Farmers Markets All the Way

The Santa Fe Farmers Market

Farmers markets like the Santa Fe Farmers Market are at the heart of many towns and cities, attracting foot traffic and customers to brick and mortar stores, bringing together rural and urban Americans, and creating jobs and opportunities for local farmers and ranchers. USDA Photo by Bob Nichols.

Greetings from New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment!  I’m here at the Santa Fe Farmers Market, where local farmers and ranchers have come together to sell their goods to the community for more than 50 years.  This popular farmers market started with just a handful of growers and now has more than 100 vendors, more than any other in the state.  It’s the perfect place to celebrate all that farmers markets do for rural and urban communities around the country by kicking off the 16th annual National Farmers Market Week.

Audio story from USDA Radio available on the USDA website.

The growth in Santa Fe’s market mirrors what is happening across the country – Americans want to get to know their farmers and learn where their food comes from.  Farmers markets like this one are at the heart of many towns and cities, attracting foot traffic and customers to brick and mortar stores, bringing together rural and urban Americans, and creating jobs and opportunities for local farmers and ranchers.  That’s why my agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is always looking for innovative ways to help farmers markets succeed. Read more »

Celebrating the Blueberry’s 100th Birthday

AMS Fruit and Vegetable Program Deputy Administrator Charles Parrott and AMS Fruit and Vegetable Program Research and Promotion Program Director Heather Pichelman (right) enjoying the blueberry celebration at the USDA Farmers Market

AMS Fruit and Vegetable Program Deputy Administrator Charles Parrott and AMS Fruit and Vegetable Program Research and Promotion Program Director Heather Pichelman (right) enjoy the blueberry celebration at the USDA Farmers Market. They stopped by the Blueberry Council’s booth to meet Melissa Mowery (second from left) and Toni Austin (second from right), representatives from the Blueberry Council’s Public Relations team.

They often say big things come in small packages. That is the case for the highbush blueberry, a fruit that is only small in stature. July is National Blueberry Month and people all over the world are busy enjoying blueberry-inspired fruit salads, smoothies, and other refreshing foods. In addition to this month-long celebration, blueberry fans have another reason to get excited – the 100th anniversary of commercial blueberries.

The blueberry’s journey from farm to table began in 1916 in Whitesbog, N.J., when Elizabeth White teamed up with USDA botanist Frederick Coville to go against conventional wisdom and breed a variety of wild blueberries to be sold on the market. The blueberry’s 100-year history contains many milestones. This includes being named the official state berry of New Jersey, an iconic appearance in the classic Willy Wonka movie, and being planted in the White House kitchen garden. Read more »

#USDARoadTrip: USDA Innovates to Meet Your Needs

A person holding a digital map on a smart phone

Digital maps available for your smart phone help visitors find their way around U.S. Forest Service forests and grasslands.

USDA is in the solutions business. And now more than ever, we’re committed to working beside farmers, ranchers, rural businesses and partners to find innovative and collaborative solutions that meet the ever-evolving interests of the American people.

This week, as part of our USDA summer road trip, we’ll take you through a few of our signature advancements from recent years that help us to better serve your needs, including a series of mobile and web based applications that allow you to interact with USDA programs and services your way. Read more »

Reach Your Goal Weight Your Way with the NIH Body Weight Planner and USDA’s SuperTracker

Body Weight Planner graphic

This image shows the Body Weight Planner results page for a sample user we can call #1Mom. #1Mom is trying to reach her goal weight of 138 pounds in 180 days (about 6 months). Based on her goal and the physical activity changes she specified, the Body Weight Planner calculated that she will need to eat 1,819 calories a day to reach her goal and 2,094 calories a day to maintain it after she reaches it (assuming she keeps up her physical activity changes). (Click to enlarge)

Many people want to do a better job managing their weight but aren’t sure how. Whether you’re trying to maintain your weight, lose weight, or gain weight it can be challenging to figure out how to get started.

USDA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) teamed up to bring you a simple new tool that can help you set, reach, and maintain your goal. Using science-based technology, the NIH Body Weight Planner calculates how many calories you need to eat and how much exercise you need to achieve a goal weight within a specific time period. You set the goal and decide what timeframe makes sense for you. Read more »

Kids’ “State Dinner”: Celebrating Healthy Cooking at the White House

Menu from the Kids’ “State Dinner”

Menu from the Kids’ “State Dinner” featured healthy, MyPlate-inspired recipes by talented kid-chefs.

Don’t let the name fool you; attending the Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House is an exciting experience for both kids and adults alike.  As a nutritionist with the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, I had the privilege of being both a judge and an attendee for the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a contest where young chefs-in-training practice creating their own MyPlate-inspired healthy recipes.  The winners of this competition are in turn honored on July 10 with a special invitation to the White House for the Kids’ “State Dinner” and I joined these talented, young chefs for an unforgettable experience.

Kids and their guardians participated in a welcome reception prior to getting their picture taken with the First Lady. Excitement, and the sweet smell of fresh produce, was certainly in the air! However, it wasn’t just the recipes at the “State Dinner” that were inspired by MyPlate—even the centerpieces were created by using a variety of fruits and vegetables! Read more »

“Hot & Cold” Music, Food and Fun on the Menu for July 17th USDA Farmers Market at Night

USDA Farmers Market Hot and Cold infographic

In Washington DC? Bring your dancing shoes and join the USDA Farmers Market at Night on Friday, July 17 from 5 to 8 PM! (Click to enlarge)

If you’re in the Washington, DC-area on Friday, July 17, join us between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. outside USDA Headquarters at 12th and Independence Avenue, S.W., near the Smithsonian Metro stop.  Bring your dancing shoes, friends and appetite.  We’ll be holding the third in a series of 6 monthly USDA Farmers Market at Night.  The July night market’s “Hot & Cold” theme will feature Brazilian Music, local food trucks and free blueberry ice cream.

Farmers markets across the country are gathering places where local food producers are building successful businesses and bringing fresh, local food to neighborhoods across the country. As the demand for local food continues to increase, farmers markets are maturing from small stands to entertainment destinations with extended hours, live music, and a variety of local products. Read more »