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How Are You Adding Fruits and Vegetables? Your Plate Could Win $1,500!

How are you putting more fruits and vegetables to your plate? USDA is challenging you to show how you’re adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet without straining your budget. Speaking of your budget, the challenge is offering cash prizes for creative videos! All you have to do is create a short video (approximately 30 seconds) showing how you build a healthy plate with fruits and veggies on a budget. What does YOUR MyPlate look like? Share your most inspiring tips, tricks, and how-tos. Get creative with your video! It can be a song, a skit, or a how-to in action, as long as it includes the message “Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.” Read more »

Turkey FUNdamentals: Top Questions for Cooking a Turkey

Safety first this Thanksgiving.

Safety first this Thanksgiving.

The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline has been answering consumer questions related to Holiday meals for over 25 years. Of course, we get the usual questions about buying, thawing and roasting a turkey. But we also get some of the same not-so-typical questions each year. You may have had these questions yourself. Read more »

Helping Homeless Veterans One Hero At A Time

The over 670 veterans who attended the event received new shoes and other aid.

The over 670 veterans who attended the event received new shoes and other aid.

As a federal employee for USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, it is part of my job to know the many faces of hunger. People in need can come from all backgrounds, ages, locations, and walks of life. They are children. They are senior citizens. They are even those who are newly unemployed during our nation’s economic downturn. I knew all of this. But what caught me off guard was the fact that many are also our nation’s veterans. Read more »

Finding Federal Employment: Appreciation and Insight for Veterans

“As a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, my work as a logistics embarkation specialist gave me ability to multi-task on a number of important projects.  These skills were crucial to my transition to my position here at AMS,” said Lauren Hilliker, AMS Fruit and Vegetable Programs.  She is shown here with another AMS employee, Candice Spalding, talking with veterans and Justice Department staff at a NAVSEA career event in September 2011.

“As a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, my work as a logistics embarkation specialist gave me ability to multi-task on a number of important projects. These skills were crucial to my transition to my position here at AMS,” said Lauren Hilliker, AMS Fruit and Vegetable Programs. She is shown here with another AMS employee, Candice Spalding, talking with veterans and Justice Department staff at a NAVSEA career event in September 2011.

At the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), we employ several veterans from different branches of the armed services.  Their experience and training built them into strong multi-taskers, leaders and analytical thinkers—all of them invaluable teammates and civil servants.  They each took a different path to get to USDA, and the skills and abilities they honed during their military service were crucial to their successful transition into their civilian career paths. Read more »

New Satellite Will Help USDA Provide More Information to Farmers

Satellites orbiting the Earth help us in countless ways. For example, they allow the GPS in our smartphones to tell us where we are located and they help us watch football games on weekends. And now a new NASA satellite scheduled for launch in 2014—the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) instrument—will help USDA better predict agricultural productivity and forecast drought conditions.

There are three things of utmost importance to farmers—soil, sun and water. SMAP will serve at the junction of two of these variables, helping USDA and others improve its knowledge and understanding of soil moisture. Measuring soil moisture helps scientists, farmers, water managers and others understand how much water will be available at any given time, which influences the key decisions they make about managing and using water supplies. Read more »

Garlic Mustard, Not Your Average Garnish

An example of the invasiveness of the garlic mustard plant.  (Photo credit: Steven Katovich, U.S. Forest Service)

An example of the invasiveness of the garlic mustard plant. (Photo credit: Steven Katovich, U.S. Forest Service)

Year three of the “Garlic Mustard Challenge” produced a bumper crop, not for hot dog relish, but bags of the non-native invasive species garlic mustard.  The goals of this challenge and the weed pull are not simply in eradicating the invasive garlic mustard plant, but also in educating and inspiring individuals to get out and enjoy our national forests and grasslands. Read more »