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New USDA ‘FoodKeeper’ App: Your New Tool for Smart Food Storage

Image of person using app in refrigerator. Text overlay reads: “Are these leftovers still good? There’s an app for that now, the FoodKeeper.”

Have questions about items in your refrigerator or pantry? USDA has a new app that can help.

How many times have you gone into your pantry or refrigerator, only to find that what you were going to use in your meal was spoiled? The USDA, Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute would like to help you avoid that problem in the future with our new application, the FoodKeeper.

Every year, billions of pounds of good food go to waste in the U.S. because home cooks are not sure of the quality or safety of items. USDA estimates that 21% of the available food in the U.S. goes uneaten at the consumer level. In total, 36 pounds of food per person is wasted each month at the retail and consumer levels! Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Naomi Starkman

Former farmer Naomi Starkman is now the editor of Civil Eats, an award winning blog covering food and agriculture. Photo credit: Naomi Fiss.

Former farmer Naomi Starkman is now the editor of Civil Eats, an award winning blog covering food and agriculture. Photo credit: Naomi Fiss.

In agriculture we know that the work of women in our field reaches far beyond one month out of the year and should be celebrated every day. We got such a great response to our Women’s History Month weekly profiles in March that we will now be expanding to a monthly series. We will continue to feature women leaders across agriculture who are opening doors for their peers and contributing to the larger conversation about #womeninag.

To help us get started, this month, we profile Naomi Starkman, the founder and editor-in-chief of Civil Eats. Naomi is also a founding board member and advisor to the Food & Environment Reporting Network. A recovering lawyer, Naomi has worked as a media consultant at The New Yorker and Newsweek magazines and on several farms. Read more »

iCook Makes Healthy Living Fun for Kids

Maine 4-H learn some knife skills as part of the University of Maine’s “iCook” program.  Four other states are joining Maine in this childhood obesity prevention program. (Courtesy photo from Maine 4-H)

Maine 4-H learn some knife skills as part of the University of Maine’s “iCook” program. Four other states are joining Maine in this childhood obesity prevention program. (Courtesy photo from Maine 4-H)

Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents over the past 30 years, leading to increased risks for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and breathing problems.

Researchers from the University of Maine have developed the 4-H iCook project to tackle this issue in the home. The program encourages families to cook, eat, and exercise together while improving culinary skills and increasing physical activity. Read more »

#AgCensus Gives Nebraska Plenty to Brag About

Nebraskan farmers and ranchers sold more than $23 billion worth of agricultural products in 2012.  Check back next Thursday for another state spotlight from the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

Nebraskan farmers and ranchers sold more than $23 billion worth of agricultural products in 2012. Check back next Thursday for another state spotlight from the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

Nebraska is an extremely important part of U.S. agriculture. As the 2012 Census of Agriculture showed, Nebraskan farmers and ranchers sold more than $23 billion worth of agricultural products. Our unique geography lets us combine the advantages of the Midwestern crop-friendly soil with the plains perfect for cattle grazing.

Beef cattle is the largest component of our agriculture. The 2012 Census counted nearly 6.4 million head of cattle and calves in Nebraska, second only to Texas with sales of almost $10.1 billion. And if that wasn’t enough, Nebraska pork producers had the sixth largest inventory of hogs and pigs in the United States with almost 3 million head in 2012. Read more »

California Producers See Big Opportunities in Trade

Deputy Under Secretary Alexis Taylor speaks with Mike Antle and his growers about exporting fresh produce.

Deputy Under Secretary Alexis Taylor speaks with Mike Antle and his growers about exporting fresh produce.

As the nation’s top producer and exporter of agricultural products, California has a lot to gain from the market-opening benefits of free trade agreements. The state’s exports not only help boost farm prices and income, they also support nearly 150,000 jobs both on the farm and in related industries such as food processing, transportation and manufacturing.

Last month, I was in central California to visit with the agricultural community about Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would help expand U.S. access to the Asia-Pacific region. During a roundtable discussion with producers of a diverse array of commodities, I heard first-hand how trade benefits their businesses and their communities. Read more »

Tusayan Ranger District Achieves Goal of Zero Human-Caused Fires

Fire prevention specialist Bob Blasi works to contain a small wildfire on the Tusayan Ranger District. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Fire prevention specialist Bob Blasi works to contain a small wildfire on the Tusayan Ranger District. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

In calendar year 2014, the Tusayan Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest achieved a longtime goal of zero human-caused wildfires.

According to forest wildfire records, the last time the district had zero human fires was in 1965, exactly 50 years ago.

“Over the last three years, we have had a specific, written goal of reducing human-caused wildfires on the district to zero for an entire calendar year,” said Quentin Johnson, fire management officer for the Tusayan Ranger District. “Given that the district receives millions of visitors each year because it is located immediately adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park, we knew this would be an incredible challenge.” Read more »