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Turkey Tips Step 1: Shopping for Your Feast

-You’re certain you’ve thought of everything to make this year’s Thanksgiving meal a flawless success.

You’ve assigned your quarrelsome family members who passionately root for rival football teams to seats on opposite ends of the dinner table. You’re prepared to cook all of your guests’ favorite holiday dishes, and after years of practice, you finally feel like you’ve perfected the delicate art of carving a turkey. Yes, this year will be different. You won’t have to order a pizza and eat it with lumpy gravy like you did after last year’s cooking disaster! But while you may think you’ve thought of absolutely everything for the perfect Thanksgiving meal, you may have neglected some of the most important steps – those involving food safety. Read more »

Native American Civil Rights Legend Urges Action

(Left to right) Educator and former government official Ada Deer, Rural Development’s Deputy Under Secretary Patrice Kunesh (Standing Rock Lakota), Office of Tribal Relations Director Leslie Wheelock (Oneida) and the Forest Service’s Deputy Under Secretary Butch Blazer (Mescalero Apache) at the USDA Native American Heritage Month observance at the Jefferson Auditorium at USDA. Photo by Bob Nichols.

(Left to right) Educator and former government official Ada Deer, Rural Development’s Deputy Under Secretary Patrice Kunesh (Standing Rock Lakota), Office of Tribal Relations Director Leslie Wheelock (Oneida) and the Forest Service’s Deputy Under Secretary Butch Blazer (Mescalero Apache) at the USDA Native American Heritage Month observance at the Jefferson Auditorium at USDA. Photo by Bob Nichols.

Dennis Zotigh, Kiowa, National Native American Museum shared Native cultures through music and song during the Native American Heritage Month Observance Cultural exchange at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. The Cultural Exchange featured Tribal College exhibit booths and cultural food sampling. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

Dennis Zotigh, Kiowa, National Native American Museum shared Native cultures through music and song during the Native American Heritage Month Observance Cultural exchange at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. The Cultural Exchange featured Tribal College exhibit booths and cultural food sampling. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

Legendary Native American Indian activist, educator and former government official Ada Deer (Menominee) delivered a charge to those attending USDA’s Native American Heritage Month observance here in Washington last week. “Be activists to achieve change,” she said. “We all pay our rent on the planet.  How are you paying your rent?”

A former head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, she recently retired as director of the American Indian Studies Department and Director of the School of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  In my introduction, I noted that Ms. Deer’s life is a tribute to tribal sovereignty and self-determination. She is a role model to all Native Americans, but especially to Native American women.  Not surprisingly, Ms. Deer spoke passionately about the role of Tribal colleges and universities.  This year marks the 20th anniversary of their recognition by Congress as land grant institutions.  These colleges and universities are central to the Tribes. They mark a firm move away from the old boarding school model and provide life-long learning opportunities in Tribal communities.  “Education,” said Ms. Deer, “empowers people to enact positive change.” Read more »

Are You Curious About What Lies Beneath the Earth’s Surface? So Are We!

Brien Park, Nevada NRCS soil scientist, logs soil survey data into a computer at a soil survey site.

Brien Park, Nevada NRCS soil scientist, logs soil survey data into a computer at a soil survey site.

Brien Park, Nevada NRCS soil scientist, determines a soil profile. This information is available in the recently released soil survey.

Brien Park, Nevada NRCS soil scientist, determines a soil profile. This information is available in the recently released soil survey.

Those curious about what’s below the water’s surface don snorkeling gear and immerse themselves into the depths of the ocean. But what about discovering what lurks below the earth’s surface, under topsoil, trees, shrubs, rocks and plants? 

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, (NRCS) in Nevada is curious, too, and the agency’s soil scientists have finished unearthing what kind of soils lie beneath the surface in portions of central and eastern Nevada. Their findings are available to assist farmers, ranchers, land managers, homeowners or those just simply curious about what lies beneath. Read more »

NIFA Grant Programs Help Fuel Ag-related Job Boom

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.

The overall job market may go up and down, but things are definitely looking good in agricultural, environmental, and related fields. Read more »

Re-establishing Tribal Biodiversity through Agroforestry

 

Ron Reed of the Karuk Food Crew collects gooseberries. Photo credit: Colleen Rossier

Ron Reed of the Karuk Food Crew collects gooseberries. Photo credit: Colleen Rossier

Ron Reed of the Karuk Food Crew collects gooseberries. Photo credit: Colleen Rossier

Ron Reed of the Karuk Food Crew collects gooseberries. Photo credit: Colleen Rossier

 

The Karuk and Yurok Tribes traditionally managed entire watersheds and ecosystems on their ancestral lands to meet their dietary, cultural and spiritual needs. The Tribes are now working with University of California -Berkeley, University of California -Davis, the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies to reestablish the once rich and bio-diverse ecology of their ancestral homeland forests and waterways using traditional agroforestry management systems.

“By putting fire back on the landscape, we intend to restore the currently wildfire-prone food desert into a healthy, bio-diverse, fruit, nut and wildlife-rich forest,” said Karuk Department of Natural Resources Director Leaf Hillman. Read more »

High Five for High Tunnels — Tool Brings Conservation, Fresh Produce to Detroit

Cynthia Brathwaite a loyal customer attends Wayne State University Market Day to purchase D-Town Farm’s fresh produce.

Cynthia Brathwaite a loyal customer attends Wayne State University Market Day to purchase D-Town Farm’s fresh produce.

Sherri Barnes, left, at D-Town Farm, harvest fresh vegetables from their high tunnel to sell at Wayne State University’s Market Day. At right, Kwamena Mensa her father before the market day begins to sell their fresh local produce.

Sherri Barnes, left, at D-Town Farm, harvest fresh vegetables from their high tunnel to sell at Wayne State University’s Market Day. At right, Kwamena Mensa her father before the market day begins to sell their fresh local produce.

The Detroit Black Community Food Security Network’s D-Town Farm located in River Rouge Park produces farm-to-table produce using a conservation practice encouraged by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). By using seasonal high tunnels, the practice helps to address food security in the city.

High tunnels, or hoop houses, conserve resources while serving as a source for local food. They are plastic-covered structures that enable farmers to have crops ready earlier or later in the season. In high tunnels, plants are grown directly in the ground, and the temperature is regulated by opening or closing the plastic curtain sides and doors on the ends. Read more »