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Avoiding Bed Bug Nightmares This Holiday Season

Bed bug infestations are becoming more common and are extremely difficult to control. (stock photo)

Bed bug infestations are becoming more common and are extremely difficult to control. (stock photo)

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 are familiar with the phase, “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite,” but few people know what a bed bug looks like or problems they can cause. From World War II until just recently, bed bugs were not at all common in the United States.  Bed bugs are now found in many homes, apartments, college dorm rooms, and even in public facilities such as theaters, hospitals, schools, and libraries.  Now that bed bugs are back, everyone needs to know how to recognize them, how they move from one location to the next, and where they hide so we can prevent large infestations. Read more »

Before You Slice the Turkey, Give Thanks to Those Wild Cousins

The Rio Grande wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo intermedia) calls the central plains states home. They live in brush areas near streams and rivers or mesquite, pine and scrub oak forests. (Courtesy National Wild Turkey Federation)

The Rio Grande wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo intermedia) calls the central plains states home. They live in brush areas near streams and rivers or mesquite, pine and scrub oak forests. (Courtesy National Wild Turkey Federation)

According to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, the U.S. is the world’s largest turkey producer and largest exporter of turkey products. An estimated 46 million turkeys will show up on American tables this holiday, and most of those will come from turkey production facilities.

A much smaller percentage featured on the holiday table will be wild turkeys hunted on private and public lands. There are more than 7 million wild turkeys roaming the countryside, but their numbers were not always that robust. According to the National Wild Turkey Federation, which partners with the U.S. Forest Service, the tasty game bird native to the U.S. faced extinction in the 1930s. Read more »

Turkey Tips Step 3: Let’s (Finally) Get Cooking

Drawing of fully cooked Thanksgiving turkey set on the dinner table.

It’s here. You’ve been planning for this since the moment you packed away your summer flip-flops – Thanksgiving Day. After safely handling and preparing your turkey, you’ve got hungry guests headed your way expecting a grand feast, so it’s time to start cooking. Read more »

What Most People Don’t Realize is Behind Their Thanksgiving Dinner

After composting, the leftover animal materials and waste are no longer recognizable. Instead, they become healthy, organic fertilizer. NRCS photo courtesy Analia Bertucci.

After composting, the leftover animal materials and waste are no longer recognizable. Instead, they become healthy, organic fertilizer. NRCS photo courtesy Analia Bertucci.

You can picture it now, can’t you? The familiar sounds of a parade or football game playing on the TV while little ones chase each other through the house. More friends and family members than you can ever remember in one place at the same time. And the aroma … those delightful smells that let you know it’s a holiday.

You see the table surrounded by mismatched chairs, dinnerware and cutlery. And on that table, neatly decorated with the rich colors of the season, sit bowls filled with traditional fare and in the center of it all, the pièce de résistance – the golden brown bird around which the entire meal is built. Turkey. The year’s most prestigious meal! Read more »

Thanksgiving Is a Great Time to Start Reducing Food Waste with Friends & Family

On average, these polts will take 4 to 5 months to make weight.  It takes a lot of natural resources, energy, labor, and love to raise the estimated 46 million turkeys that will be consumed this Thanksgiving.  Show your appreciation by making sure you waste as little food as possible. Photo courtesy of USDA.

On average, these polts will take 4 to 5 months to make weight. It takes a lot of natural resources, energy, labor, and love to raise the estimated 46 million turkeys that will be consumed this Thanksgiving. Show your appreciation by making sure you waste as little food as possible. Photo courtesy of USDA.

Thanksgiving is a time to appreciate all that is good in our lives and to spend it in the company of friends and family while enjoying great food.  It is also a time to reflect on the bounty of our food supply.  Each year, as I put away the leftovers from my Thanksgiving dinner, I marvel at the abundance.

I also can’t avoid pausing to consider how much food is wasted in this country.

USDA estimates that on average, American consumers waste about one-fifth of food that is available to them, equivalent to about $371 per person annually.  That’s enough money to buy about 21 whole turkeys for each person in the country. Read more »

Circle of Nations School Promotes Healthier Lifestyles for Their Children

Students at Circle of Nations School gathered vegetables that they grew in the school’s garden.  They used the kale and cabbage in a “Healthy Choices” cooking class.

Students at Circle of Nations School gathered vegetables that they grew in the school’s garden. They used the kale and cabbage in a “Healthy Choices” cooking class.

In November, USDA pays tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans by observing Native American Heritage Month.  Today, an important part of Native American culture includes working towards a healthier lifestyle for Native American people.  The following guest blog demonstrates the wide range of efforts that tribes are making to support a healthier next generation.  We thank the Circle of Nations School for sharing their story.

By Lise Erdrich, School Health Coordinator, Circle of Nations School

Circle of Nations School (CNS) is an inter-tribal off-reservation boarding school in Wahpeton, N.D., chartered under the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate and funded by the Bureau of Indian Education. CNS serves American Indian youth in grades 4 through 8.

CNS is a 2012 recipient of the HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award, a Green Ribbon School Award, and of the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) grant. CNS was the first Green Ribbon School in the state of North Dakota and the entire Bureau of Indian Education system. These and related initiatives promote healthy environment, physical activity and nutritional improvement points including fresh, locally sourced food. Read more »