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The Citrus Wizard of Florida

Pictured here with his pet rooster, March, Lue Gim Gong’s work with citrus trees helped develop a frost-tolerant orange after a disastrous winter in Florida.

Pictured here with his pet rooster, March, Lue Gim Gong’s work with citrus trees helped develop a frost-tolerant orange after a disastrous winter in Florida.

No one should live in this world for himself alone, but to do good for those who come after him. Read more »

An Epic Disaster Required Unprecedented Response

From left: Jessica Shahin, Associate Administrator, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Mika Brzezinski and Former Congressman Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.) hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe and Masters of Ceremony  listen to Shahin explain the emergency food assistance provided to survivors of Hurricane Katrina at the United States Department of Agriculture's 150th Anniversary celebration in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, May 15, 2012. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

From left: Jessica Shahin, Associate Administrator, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Mika Brzezinski and Former Congressman Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.) hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe and Masters of Ceremony listen to Shahin explain the emergency food assistance provided to survivors of Hurricane Katrina at the United States Department of Agriculture's 150th Anniversary celebration in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, May 15, 2012. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly seven years since the lives of the citizens of New Orleans and surrounding areas of the Gulf Coast were changed forever in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. This epic storm demanded an immediate and unprecedented response. I was proud to be part of USDA’s team that quickly mobilized to provide disaster food assistance. Read more »

Healthy Foods Not Necessarily More Expensive Than Less Healthy Ones

Fruits and vegetables appear more expensive than less healthy foods when the price is measured by calories rather than by weight or by amount in an average serving. The price measure has a large effect on which foods are determined more expensive.Fruits and vegetables appear more expensive than less healthy foods when the price is measured by calories rather than by weight or by amount in an average serving. The price measure has a large effect on which foods are determined more expensive.

Fruits and vegetables appear more expensive than less healthy foods when the price is measured by calories rather than by weight or by amount in an average serving. The price measure has a large effect on which foods are determined more expensive.

Most Americans’ diets fall short of Federal recommendations, especially when it comes to whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and fruits and vegetables. Some nutrition researchers and food writers blame cost, saying fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods are more expensive than less healthy ones.  And on a per calorie basis, that’s true.  Calorie-sparse fruits and vegetables cost more than a donut, and skim milk costs more than whole.  But is price per calorie the only way to think about a food’s cost? Read more »

USDA Introduces New Resources to Help Nutrition Educators Reach Moms

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, it is most appropriate to recognize the important role women play in shaping the eating patterns of their family members and especially, their children.  So today, we are launching an updated web site with new messages, tools, and resources to help nutrition educators reach one of the most critically important target groups—moms.  FNS administers 15 nutrition assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Women, Infants and Children Program that help individuals and families meet their nutrition needs.  Since many participants in these programs are women and children, moms are a high priority for nutrition education because they can make a big impact of the eating habits of their families.

The new resources include 13 audience-tested core nutrition messages, tips for making healthier choices, ideas for tasty meals and snacks that include whole grains, milk, fruits and vegetables, and other easy to use ways to help consumers to understand and put MyPlate recommendations into practice.  Testing showed that these materials resonate with moms, provide realistic ways to engage their children, and offer appealing tips to incorporate whole grains, fat-free and low-fat milk, and fruits and vegetables into family meals and snacks.

Read more »

OIG Gives FSIS Thumbs Up for “Handling” Appeals

In April of all months, “audit” is the last word most Americans want to hear but last month the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service was cheering because it passed a very meaningful audit by the Office of the Inspector General. According to the OIG, FSIS is appropriately managing meat and poultry slaughter establishments’ appeals of humane handling enforcement actions.

In December 2010, USDA’s Office of Food Safety proactively asked the OIG to determine whether FSIS addressed these types of appeals in a consistent, timely, and accurate manner. The OIG audit was extensive, covering humane handling appeals filed by the industry over a four-year period from January 2007 to December 2010. Not only did OIG publish positive findings; this is the second time in more than eight years that the OIG has published a final report for FSIS without any formal recommendations. Read more »

On its 150th Anniversary, USDA Upholds Abraham Lincoln’s Vision

Over the coming weeks, the landscape in Oklahoma will change dramatically as state-of-the-art combines comb meticulously through fields of golden wheat, allowing Oklahoma farmers to deliver an estimated 150 million bushels to their local grain elevators. The varieties harvested were exhaustively developed to maximize yield and minimize susceptibility to pests, while improving milling and baking qualities.

Such innovation allows today’s farmer to feed over 150 people, each farmer producing five times as much as our grandparents, and doing it with less land, water, energy, and fewer emissions. Agriculture has advanced significantly over the 150-year history of the department charged with its support. Read more »