Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Local Food – Cooking Up Creative & Fresh Ideas for Healthy Communities

Columbia Heights Farmers Market shoppers

Columbia Heights Farmers Market shoppers enjoy locally-produced food. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) grants are helping farmers markets implement creative programs to support local food producers and build healthy communities. Photo courtesy Mr T in DC.

Nutritional classes, purple beets, basil pesto and dark roast coffee – it’s not your father’s farmers market.  The entire local food system is maturing and farmers markets are offering more and more community-focused services. Many farmers markets now give their customers a chance to learn about locally-produced foods, in addition to buying and consuming them.

USDA is a proud partner and supporter of local and regional food systems through our programs, grants and technical services. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) grants are helping farmers markets implement creative programs to support local food producers and build healthy communities. One example of an AMS grant success story is Community Foodworks, which manages the Columbia Heights Farmers Market and six other markets across Washington, DC, and Northern Virginia. Read more »

USDA Builds Communities with Lenders

Rural families become homeowners

Rural families become homeowners. Click to enlarge.

It’s been 25 years since USDA guaranteed the first home loan in Donalsonville, Georgia. The home itself was a modest spot nestled into the tiny little village in rural Georgia. To an outsider this home may look non-descript, but to the family who moved in 25 years ago, owning this home was a dream that seemed impossible before they found out USDA and their small town lender could work together to make their dream become reality.

25 years later, USDA has worked with thousands of lenders big and small to help 1.48 million families just like the first in Donalsonville buy modest homes in rural America. USDA Home Loan Guarantees are so important to hard working folks who want to settle down in rural areas. This program is the golden example of the private and public sectors coming together to make this opportunities for a better life accessible for all. Read more »

The Nutrient Challenge of Sustainable Fertilizer Management

Map of nitrogen deposition in the United States.

Map of nitrogen deposition in the United States.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

It’s a case of “darned if you do, darned if don’t.” Read more »

Helping Reduce Risk and Facilitate Trade of Fruits and Vegetables

Romaine harvest in California

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service helps protect growers, like the romaine lettuce producer pictured above, by representing American interests at meetings of the Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC).

Now that it’s June, many of us are enjoying a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables that will be available throughout the summer.  During the rest of the year, some of these same fresh fruits and vegetables are available to American consumers thanks to trade agreements with Canada and Mexico.

In the last five years, the value and volume of fresh fruits and vegetables from Canada and Mexico to the United States has grown.  In 2015, the U.S. imported more than 2.8 billion pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables from Canada, valued at $1.4 billion.  From Mexico, the U.S. imported 17.4 billion pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables for $9.1 billion.  U.S. fruit and vegetable growers also have benefited.  In 2015, the U.S. exported nearly 7.1 billion pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to Canada and Mexico, worth $4.2 billion. Read more »

US Forest Service Waives Fees for National Get Outdoors Day – June 11

Forest Service employee, Michaela Hall, rafting on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River

Forest Service employee, Michaela Hall, rafting on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River adjacent to Glacier National Park in Montana.

In an era of social media mania, forests around the country are opening their doors to reacquaint kids and parents with good old fashion family fun—without the aid of modern technology.

On Saturday, June 11, the U.S. Forest Service invites families to join thousands of forest explorers for a free, fun-packed day of outdoor adventures in celebration of National Get Outdoors Day. Read more »

MyPlate Turns Five! Celebrating New Resources in 2016

Happy Birthday MyPlate

MyPlate celebrates its 5th Anniversary during the month of June.

Since MyPlate’s debut in 2011, the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) has expanded and improved upon outreach efforts, continuously offering new resources and tools. This year is no exception, with the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the MyPlate, MyWins campaign released simultaneously in January 2016. Let’s explore what else is in store!

MyPlate, My Wins Initiative

CNPP kicked off the year with the launch of MyPlate, MyWins, a consumer education initiative that translates the 2015- 2020 Dietary Guidelines into actionable messages for consumers. The campaign and its accompanying resources help consumers find solutions to overcome common barriers to healthy eating, such as time, budget, and cooking skills. The campaign aims to inspire Americans to make small changes to their food and beverage choices, gradually building to a healthy eating style that is realistic and works for them.  As the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines emphasize, it is a healthy eating style over time that has the biggest impact on health — not a single food, nutrient, or meal. Read more »