Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Category: Science

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 »

USDA Research Tradition Going Strong in the 21st Century

USDA research can be found in many products that you’ve probably never realized.

USDA research can be found in many products that you’ve probably never realized.

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.

There are “game changers” in politics, sports, art, music and the like. So it should come as no surprise that there are game changers in agricultural research as well—discoveries that changed the way food is produced, and even created new industries to feed a growing world.

Last week’s seminar commemorating Norman Borlaug’s work to launch the Green Revolution is a great example of how a strong science foundation has helped ensure a steady food supply as the world’s population has grown. Read more »

USDA Collection Preserves Garlic’s Genetic Diversity

“This group of diverse garlic germplasm represents all the types that might be found at a farmer’s market.” Photo courtesy of Barbara Hellier, ARS

“This group of diverse garlic germplasm represents all the types that might be found at a farmer’s market.” Photo courtesy of Barbara Hellier, ARS

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.

Raw or dehydrated, garlic is a staple ingredient in dishes the world over. This herb, Allium sativum, is also the focus of medical research investigating the health-imparting properties of allicin, a compound that gives garlic its pungent aroma and flavor.

Americans consumed 2.3 pounds of garlic per person in 2010. Perhaps most familiar to consumers is the large white bulb commonly sold in supermarkets. But there’s more diversity there than meets the eye, or the taste buds, says USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) horticulturist Barbara Hellier. Read more »

Why You Should Know the Name Norman Borlaug

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.

Most Americans have never heard the name Norman Borlaug—and that’s ironic, considering that he is hailed around the world as one of the greatest Americans ever.

Compared to storied politicians, creative industrialists, brilliant inventors, or military heroes, Borlaug’s accomplishments have never been the topic of discussion at the dinner table — he merely set the world’s table. But what a table. The simple Iowa farm boy is credited with saving a billion people around the world from starvation and malnutrition. Read more »

ERS’ Food Environment Atlas Maps the Interplay of Farmers’ Markets and SNAP

About one in every four farmers’ markets across the country reported accepting SNAP benefits in 2013, according to statistics found in ERS’s updated Food Environment Atlas.

About one in every four farmers’ markets across the country reported accepting SNAP benefits in 2013, according to statistics found in ERS’s updated Food Environment Atlas.

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.

As economists, we recognize that people respond to incentives, and prices are among the strongest incentives. So as the price of something falls, people will generally purchase more of it. It’s a principle that policymakers and health advocates sometimes apply to encourage healthy dietary choices—such as eating more fruits and vegetables. The Agricultural Act of 2014 sets up a new grant program to support projects that encourage participants in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, to buy more fruits and vegetables. The grants will provide Federal matching funds to nonprofit and governmental organizations for projects that reduce the cost of fruits and vegetables to SNAP recipients. Many of these efforts currently focus on increasing SNAP recipients’ buying power at farmers’ markets. Read more »