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Smokey Bear and Sammy Soil Team Up for Conservation

It was a moment some felt would never happen – at least not so spontaneously. The two mascots, the Forest Service’s Smokey Bear and the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Sammy Soil were amusing adults and children attending the final USDA Farmer’s Market of the year, when they met face to face on Jefferson Drive. The moment was a little tense as no one really new what would happen. Read more »

USDA Celebrates Food and Nutrition at the Inaugural Fall Festival

Halloween has passed, but here in DC the fall leaves are still beautiful despite all the rain we’ve been having–and last Friday USDA had a great end of season party. Read more »

Recovery Act Funds Provide Jobs and Help Families find Affordable Housing in Nebraska

Pastor Mendez family stands in front of their new home, financed with Recovery Act guarantee funds through USDA Rural DevelopmentOne of the most satisfying things about being State Director of USDA Rural Development in Nebraska is seeing in person how the Recovery Act helps our local businesses and families. Read more »

Enjoy Your Garden Year-Round: Try Home Canning

This year, USDA has been encouraging folks to try local food production and consumption. The People’s Garden has been an excellent example in connecting people to where their food comes from. And many of you followed suit, planting gardens of your own. Read more »

Cochran Fellowship Program Marks 25th Anniversary

One of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) most noteworthy programs, the Cochran Fellowship Program (CFP), is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The CFP provides U.S.-based agricultural training opportunities for senior and mid-level specialists and administrators from public and private sectors concerned with agricultural trade, agribusiness development, management, policy, and marketing. Read more »

Abundance is the Key Theme for Harvest-Time.

We all come together for festivals, fun and food as the growing season comes to an end.  This is the opening of the season of celebrating holidays bringing family and friends together. Our challenge is know how enjoy and deal with an abundance of food throughout out celebrations.

Abundance of food is a blessing for most Americans. Yet at the same time, given the high rate of overweight and obesity in our society, we all need to be recognize how much we eat compared to how much we need to eat.  So, how do YOU figure out how much YOU actually eat?  How much food do YOU need to eat?  A few simple tips can help you out.

First – since everyone is different – finding the amount of food YOU need is right at your fingertips at  The website will tell you the specific  amounts (in cups and ounces) of fruits, vegetables, meat and beans, breads and cereals, and milk (or foods made from milk) you need.   For example, many adults need 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables each day.

Second – Learn to estimate amounts of foods.  Use common objects as visual cues.  A baseball has the same volume as 1-cup and a computer mouse is equal to about ½-cup.  A deck of cards is equal to 3 ounces of meat, or ½-cup of another food.  Also,  practice  using measuring cups a couple of times to get a sense of the volume of 1-cup or ½-cup.  Paying attention to the amounts of food will help you get what ‘just’ you need, instead of  ‘more’ than you need.

Third – Put lower calorie foods, like fruits and vegetables, on your plate first.  Eating lower calorie foods first  will fill you up before you get to the dessert table.  Be mindful and slowly savor every bite. You’ll probably find a little less will do just fine.

Fourth- Watch out for the hidden calories in beverages.  Alternate a glass of water, or other calorie-free drink, with other beverages.

Celebrating the season abundance is a gift to ourselves.  Let yourself taste and enjoy all the delectable foods of the harvest season — without overdoing it!

Common Objects as Visual Cues for Vegetables

Common Objects as Visual Cues for Fruits