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Cotton Helps Insulate Communities the Green Way

Denim jeans are versatile because you can wear them for almost any occasion, but there are even more ways they can be used outside of your wardrobe.

Cotton. From Blue to Green® transforms used jeans into UltraTouch ™ Denim Insulation for communities in need. This amazing project uses an environmentally responsible process to help jump start rebuilding communities.  The program has partnered with many organizations, including Habitat for Humanity affiliates, to install home insulation for victims of disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, and for those needing help to finish their homes.  They also offer grants to improve community buildings and partner with college and university campuses to host denim collection drives. Read more »

Putting Pennsylvanians Back to Work

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak during a round table and public event at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA, on  Friday, September 16, 2011. (Photo by Christopher Rolinson/StartPoint Media, Inc.)

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak during a round table and public event at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA, on Friday, September 16, 2011. (Photo by Christopher Rolinson/StartPoint Media, Inc.)

Last week, I visited the city of Pittsburgh to highlight the American Jobs Act and what it means for Pennsylvanians. This was a special trip for me because Pittsburgh is my hometown and I still have deep family ties there.

In Pittsburgh, I led a White House Business Council roundtable hosted by Point Park University. It was one of a series of meetings being held across the country to give senior Obama Administration officials an opportunity to hear directly from business leaders about their ideas on how to grow the economy. The roundtable also provided me an opportunity to discuss USDA programs and other federal resources that help businesses, residents and communities. Read more »

Celebrating Nature’s Hidden Treasure – The Mushroom

As a mushroom enthusiast, National Mushroom Month is one of the most anticipated times of the year for me.  It’s a chance to eat as many of the mushroom’s healthy, tasty varieties as possible in new and classic heart-warming recipes.

Mushrooms are a great source of nutrients – including vitamin D, riboflavin, niacin, potassium, selenium and B vitamins – that can help every American meet the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) MyPlate guidelines for healthy eating. Because mushrooms are low in calories, fat and cholesterol-free, and low in sodium, their hearty, meaty texture provides a satisfying meal option that can fill you up while helping you sustain healthy eating habits.

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US Forest Service Symbol Woodsy Owl Turns 40

The U.S. Department of Agriculture debuts Woodsy Owl in Washington, D.C. in 1971. His signature motto then was “Give a hoot; don’t pollute!”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture debuts Woodsy Owl in Washington, D.C. in 1971. His signature motto then was “Give a hoot; don’t pollute!”

Did you know that Woodsy Owl has been giving a hoot for 40 years? This week, the furry and big-eyed environmental and antipollution steward marks 40 years of being a U.S. Forest Service symbol. Read more »

Defense of our Nation’s Food Supply – What is USDA Doing and What Can You do to Help?

National Preparedness Month is a good opportunity to reflect on progress towards ensuring the security of our Nation’s food supply.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) considers defense of the food and agriculture sector critical– all the way from farm to fork. Some animal or plant diseases could have drastic consequences on our economy – yet another reason it’s important that we continue our efforts to improve food and agricultural emergency preparedness and response.

You probably are familiar with many of the USDA agencies whose animal, plant and or food inspection programs have touched your life at some point whether traveling or simply buying meat or poultry sold in grocery stores.

For example, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) enhance agricultural security through numerous programs.  These programs range from inspecting native and foreign agricultural products, to evaluating food system vulnerabilities,  to maintaining laboratory networks that can rapidly identify diseases and pests.  To illustrate, some of our efforts over the last year include: Read more »

NRCS Works with Partners to Help Endangered Dusky Gopher Frog

Julie Grogan-Brown and Al Garner, both with NRCS, meet a gopher tortoise, one of the threatened species that call longleaf pine forests home.

Julie Grogan-Brown and Al Garner, both with NRCS, meet a gopher tortoise, one of the threatened species that call longleaf pine forests home.

Recently I got an intimate tour of a longleaf pine forest, a rapidly vanishing Southeastern ecosystem that is home to one-of-a-kind wildlife. Longleaf pines once dominated the landscape of coastal Mississippi, but deforestation and urbanization have decreased both these forests and the unique plants and animals that call them home. Read more »