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Score a Food Safety Touchdown at Your Super Bowl Party

In the middle of winter, Americans love having a reason to get together and celebrate a very American tradition—the Super Bowl. Every year, groups gather into cozy houses, crowd around buffet tables and television sets, and watch to see what NFL team will be deemed “best.” All of this crowding and sharing, while fun, presents an easy opportunity for foodborne illness to strike.

Super Bowl parties are often potlucks, with guests traveling with food in their car, or they may be the first time a 20-something hosts a meal at his house. Also, people may not want to miss the next big play to head to restroom to wash their hands. All of these scenarios are good reason to really pay attention to the food safety playbook: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill. Read more »

Feds Fighting Hunger!

As an employee of the Food & Nutrition Service, I see firsthand the war that is waged on hunger every single day. The number of families across the country that are food insecure is cause for concern, but we are working daily to reduce those numbers. And it’s working. Starting with generous donations of food and funds supplied through numerous federal feeding programs, people nationwide are privy to not just any food, but healthy, nutritious food.

And it happens on the local level as well. In the Southwest Region of the United States, there are local partners fighting hunger in fresh and innovative ways, seeing to it that the graciously donated food items make it to as many families in need as possible. Read more »

USDA Names Winners of 2011 Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program

Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the selection of 24 university students who will attend USDA’s 2011 Agricultural Outlook Forum February 24 and 25. The Forum titled, “Today’s Strategies & Tomorrow’s Opportunities,” is USDA’s largest annual event and will be held this year in Arlington, Virginia. The finalists include students from Land-Grant, Hispanic Serving Institutions, American Association of State Colleges of Agriculture and Renewable Resources institutions who are the recipients of corporate and USDA sponsorship aimed at promoting the education of the next generation of agriculturalists. Read more »

Innovating Our Way to a Stronger America

Last night I had the privilege of attending President Obama’s State of the Union speech.  In it, he laid out some of the challenges America faces moving forward as we compete with nations across the globe to win the future.

The President’s vision is simple.  We need to be a nation that makes, creates and innovates so that we can expand the middle class and ensure that we pass along to our children the types of freedoms, opportunities and experiences that we have enjoyed. Read more »

Know Your Supply Chain? New Research explains how local food gets from the farm to your table

The December 2010 issue of USDA's Amber Waves describes recent research on local food supply chains. Researchers sponsored by ERS studied several food supply chains around the country, looking at how the size, structure, and performance of local supply chains compare to mainstream supply chains.

Most people who are interested in local food know that farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) are great ways to buy products from local farms and vendors. But are there other ways that local food moves from producers to consumers? It turns out that a great variety of food supply chains are capable of delivering locally produced foods to consumers. Studying these supply chains offers an interesting peek into the future of local foods in the United States. Read more »

USDA Partners to Construct Straw Homes that are Built to Last

The finished home with a photo of the trailer it replaced (foreground)

The finished home with a photo of the trailer it replaced (foreground)

The organization “Community Rebuilds” along with USDA Rural Development recently welcomed Sascha Pastler and Colleen Jarrett into their newly completed straw bale home.  A ribbon cutting ceremony was held at their front door.   The large crowd attending was soon invited inside to see the first USDA funded straw bale home in Utah. Read more »