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Students from Every State and Territory Show Off Local Pride with MyPlate-Inspired Meals at the 5th Annual Kids’ “State Dinner”

Chef hats for each of the winners at the 2016 Kids’ State Dinner

Chef hats for each of the winners at the 2016 Kids’ “State Dinner.” (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

At the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, we are excited about using local foods and flavors to create healthy and delicious plates. Through our MyPlate, MyState initiative, we are working to connect American families with the foods grown in their communities – raising awareness that all healthy foods and flavors have a place on MyPlate.  As part of that initiative it was my privilege to attend the 5th annual Kids’ “State Dinner” last month, when the winners of the 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, were honored for their MyPlate-inspired recipes.  For the first time this year’s contest, in which young chefs ages 8-12 from across the country create healthy recipes and show off their food know-how, included an emphasis on local and regional foods through MyPlate, MyState.

It was thrilling to see such creative approaches to amplifying local and regional foods. The winners truly captured the agricultural, historical, and cultural significance of their communities through food. I had the pleasure of meeting many amazing young chefs in attendance, including 11-year-old Abhijith from Missouri, who incorporated local catfish into his recipe, and 12-year-old Grace from West Virginia, who picked the vegetables in her dish from a community garden. Read more »

National WIC Breastfeeding Week 2016

A family on their couch

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack declared August 1-7 “National WIC Breastfeeding Week”

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated around the world each year during the first week of August to promote breastfeeding and highlight its importance to the health of mothers and babies.

This year’s theme is “Breastfeeding: A Key to Sustainable Development.”  USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) joins the celebration as WIC promotes breastfeeding all year long as the optimal choice for moms who are medically able.  We support breastfeeding WIC moms through counseling and educational materials, peer counselors, a specially-tailored food package, and breastfeeding aids like breast pumps.  USDA’s successful national breastfeeding promotion campaign, Loving Support Makes Breastfeeding Work, serves as the foundation of our breastfeeding activities.  It emphasizes the importance of support from family and friends, from the health care system, and from the community. All have key roles to play in providing the support a breastfeeding mother needs. Read more »

How Did We Can? – New Online Exhibit Looks Back

Can All You Can graphic

USDA’s National Agricultural Library launches its latest Web exhibit “How Did We Can?” on home canning in the United States.

July is the height of summer grilling season, and throughout the month USDA is highlighting changes made to the U.S. food safety system over the course of this Administration. For an interactive look at USDA’s work to ensure your food is safe, visit the USDA Results project on Medium.com and read Chapter Seven: Safer Food and Greater Consumer Confidence.

The USDA’s National Agricultural Library (NAL) recently launched its newest online exhibit, “How Did We Can?The Evolution of Home Canning Practices.” The exhibit follows the evolution of home canning in the United States and the progression of associated food safety guidelines. Canning aids in food preservation by removing microorganisms responsible for decay through heating and creating a seal to prevent recontamination. Home canning held an important role in 20th century food preservation, particularly through the two World Wars, and continues to be practiced today.

“How Did We Can?” highlights changes in home canning guidelines based on a growing understanding of bacteriology. Around the turn of the 20th century, the four most prominent canning techniques were oven, open-kettle, water bath, and pressure canning. By the end of World War II, the USDA recommended only two techniques: water bath for high-acid foods and pressure canning for low-acid foods. Those recommendations remain the same under the current USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning. Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Dr. Dawn D. Walters

Dr. Dawn D. Walters

Dr. Dawn D. Walters, a public health veterinarian and current Enforcement, Investigations, and Analysis Officer for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) discusses her role in food safety on tape.

Every month, USDA shares the story of a woman in agriculture who is leading the industry and helping other women succeed along the way. This month, we hear from Dr. Dawn D. Walters, a public health veterinarian and current Enforcement, Investigations, and Analysis Officer in Arizona. Dr. Walters has committed the past six years to food safety by working for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). With her big smile and enthusiastic personality (yes, I’ve been lucky enough to meet her), it is no surprise that Dr. Walters also serves as an outreach liaison for FSIS. Dr. Walters has also served as an interim Frontline Supervisor and the District Veterinary Medical Specialist. She received a Bachelor’s of Science in Animal and Poultry Science and a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Tuskegee University. Read more »

A Conversation with USDA Leader Jonathan Cordone

Jonathan Cordone, Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services

Jonathan Cordone, Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, has key responsibilities for USDA’s international activities for trade policy, export assistance, food aid, international economic development and more.

As the Deputy Under Secretary of Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS), Jonathan Cordone leads the Department’s international activities, including key responsibilities for trade policy and export assistance, as well as food aid, international economic development, and trade capacity building. With more than 15 years of public service, Cordone has served as the General Counsel and Chief Counsel of key congressional committees with responsibilities for commerce and international trade, the Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and most recently as USDA’s second highest ranking attorney. Read more »

NRCS Helps Young Iowa Farmer Plan New Grazing System

Ryan Collins (center) with NRCS District Conservationist LuAnn Rolling (right) and Iowa NRCS State Public Affairs Specialist Laura Crowell

Ryan Collins (center) stopped to meet with NRCS District Conservationist LuAnn Rolling (right) and Iowa NRCS State Public Affairs Specialist Laura Crowell June 1 at his farm near Harpers Ferry. Photo: Jason Johnson.

When Iowa livestock producer Ryan Collins bought his 170-acre farm near Harpers Ferry, he knew from experience with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that the agency could help him plan a rotational grazing system.

A rotational grazing system—also known as prescribed grazing—divides pastures into four or more small paddocks with fencing. The animals move from paddock to paddock on a schedule based on the availability of forage and the livestock’s nutritional needs.

Collins says he has a lot more grass available than before. “I attribute it to the rotational grazing,” he said. “I like to have plenty of grass. The cows and calves both do, as well.” Read more »