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Farmers markets have become a critical ingredient to our nation’s economy, food systems, and communities. Connecting rural to urban, farmer to consumer, and fresh ingredients to our diets, farmers markets are becoming economic and community centerpieces in cities and towns across the U.S.
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to kick off National Farmers Market Week at a wonderfully diverse and thriving market—the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace in Washington, DC. Columbia Heights represents what I envision many farmers markets are like– a market with a deep sense of community that provides local residents with access to fresh, locally produced fruit, vegetables, meats, baked goods, and much more. It’s also a place where neighbor meets neighbor, and the many benefits of having a farmers market nearby are felt throughout the community. Read more »
Hatch green chiles can be used in everything from potato salad to lemonade.
It’s no secret I love New Mexican grown green chiles. So does Melissa’s World Variety Produce in Los Angeles, California. So much so, that during a recent trip to California, I attended a spicy workshop and reception hosted by Melissa’s, featuring New Mexican Hatch green chiles.
“When I grew up, I thought there was only one kind of chile: we just called them green.” says corporate chef Rodriguez who grew up in El Paso, Texas.
Southwesterners like Ida and I may just call them “greens”. However, the rest of the country is quickly getting to know these meaty, flavorful Hatch green chiles, named after Hatch, New Mexico, epicenter of state’s chile growing region. Read more »
Our children are our most prized possessions and we must do whatever it takes to help them excel in the future. Leading them on the path to becoming part of a healthier generation, USDA revised the standards for meals and snacks served in their schools. Recently, I had the pleasure of traveling to a New York City high school to see first-hand how students were adjusting to the new standards.
The changes to the meal and snack standards are in response to the passing of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Implemented in the 2012 school year, the new meal standards made several changes. Now, the 32 million students participating in the National School Lunch Program can enjoy more fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grain foods and leaner proteins. The new smart snack standards, which will be implemented July 1, 2014, set minimum requirements for snacks sold in vending machines or as part of a la carte meals sold on campus during school hours. Read more »
“Creativity is contagious, pass it on.” These words, spoken by Albert Einstein, can hold true for anything. USDA’s Commodity Procurement Program enjoys seeing schools and other organizations develop creative, healthy meals featuring foods we purchase for federal feeding programs. We hope that finding innovative ways to use USDA foods is contagious and that others catch on.
During a recent conference, USDA saw how a bit of ingenuity can turn low-sodium corn, dried beans, and fresh squash into a tasty meal. Inspired by the American Indian tradition of the three sisters, Tocabe, an American Indian Eatery used corn and beans from USDA Foods and squash from the Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program to make a healthy soup. Read more »
Potatoes are just one of the many plant varieties issued certificates of protection by PVPO. Photo credit: Scott Bauer
Plant breeders use certificates of intellectual property rights protection as an important marketing tool. The Plant Variety Protection Office (PVPO), part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is a user fee funded program that grants these certificates after careful and detailed review. Breeders of new plant varieties hold the certificates exclusively for 20 years. That benefit creates an incentive for the plant and seed industry to develop new varieties. Since 1970, PVPO has issued more than 8,700 certificates.
Sometimes offering a great service can also create problems, such as customer requests stacking up. That is exactly what happened to PVPO which found itself with a backlog of pending applications. The program took the issue head on by initiating a business process review in 2011. Read more »
Chocolate milk is becoming a popular drink for adults looking to recover after a tough workout. Check out the Milk Pep site for milk research, recipes, and much more. Photo courtesy of Tracy Benjamin
Successful businesses use research to meet changing consumer demands. The dairy industry uses innovative research promoted by National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board (commonly referred to as the Milk Processor Education Program or MilkPEP), and other organizations to find new markets for their products. Milk has always been known as a good source of calcium and for helping to strengthen bones. However, recent studies have proven that there are other benefits of drinking milk.
Whether you are a college soccer player, a professional cyclist or just working out for better health, several studies have shown that drinking lowfat chocolate milk after a tough workout helps muscles recover and refuels the body for the next workout. The research has caught the attention of a new audience: athletes and adults looking for peak athletic performances. Whether they are training for a big race or preparing for the next weight lifting workout at the gym, lowfat chocolate milk is becoming a popular drink for adults. Read more »