From left to right: Deborah Kane, USDA Farm to School Program; Tim Snyder, Seeds of Change; Leslie Fowler, Chicago Public Schools; Anne Alonzo, AMS Administrator; Jim Slama, FamilyFarmed.org; Paul Saginaw, Zingerman's; Ken Waagner, e.a.t.; and Tom Spaulding, Angelic Organics Learning Center. The Good Food Festival & Conference is the oldest sustainable and local food trade show in America.
For over a century, my hometown of Chicago has been a cultural, financial, and agricultural hub. And as a hub, it has a long history of supporting innovation and opportunity. From the first cattle drives came the great Chicago Stockyards that supplied meat to the nation. From the early trading of the Chicago Butter and Egg Board came the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The city’s richly-woven tapestry of cultural diversity and the success of its food businesses prove Chicago’s value as an ideal business cultivator.
That is why it was so fitting that AMS Deputy Administrator Arthur Neal and I were invited to present at the Good Food Festival & Conference in Chicago on March 14. Hosted by Jim Slama of FamilyFarmed.org, the event is the oldest sustainable and local food trade show in America. Each year it brings together stakeholders including farmers, entrepreneurs, policy makers, and food industry representatives. Read more »
On January 15th, Growing Power’s Will Allen joined Chicago Public School, Aramark, FarmLogix and USDA staff to celebrate 36,000 pounds of carrots grown locally and served to Chicago students.
In the past few years I’ve seen an increasing number of news stories about successful farm to school programs. As reflected in the first USDA Farm to School Census, farm to school programs are thriving from Alaska to Florida and in every state between.
I attended a recent event that demonstrates just how quickly—and by what lengths—farm to school is growing. On January 15th, students in all Chicago Public Schools (CPS) were served sliced carrots grown at a farm only 90 miles away in Milwaukee. Read more »
“Cooking Up Change” involved more than one hundred students and over 700 guests.
This November I served as a judge in the 2013-14 kick off Cooking Up Change competition here in Chicago. What is “Cooking Up Change”? It’s a culinary competition sponsored by the Healthy Schools Campaign that challenges Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students and others across the U.S to create and prepare meals that are healthy and tasty and also follow National School Lunch Program requirements. This competition empowers students to have a voice about school meals and nutrition. On top of that, it’s a lot of fun for everyone involved!
The day of the competition I prepared by reviewing the rules, reading meal requirements, and skipping lunch. When I arrived at the event, I was impressed to see how many fellow judges there were and the wide range of food experts sitting around me. The competition got started and teams from fourteen schools started presenting their meals to us. The students brought in three or four cafeteria trays and gave each judge a sample. Judging was based on visual appearance, taste, presentation, and originality. Some students set themselves apart by being very well-polished when explaining the dishes, or by adding some creativity with music and costumes that reflected the meal’s ethic background. The competition was really tough, and ranking thee dishes was no easy task. Every meal had something that stood out, and often I found myself saying “I would order this at a restaurant!” Each dish was so delicious that by the end I could not eat one more bite! Read more »
USDA Market News reporter Holly Mozal teaches a Cochran Fellowship group from Haiti about our Market News database. We capture data for everything from cotton, fruits, vegetables and specialty crops, livestock, meats, poultry, eggs, grain and hay, to milk and dairy, and tobacco.
At some point in our lives, we all wonder what it would be like if we didn’t exist. How would things be different? Last month, American farmers and businesses experienced what it was like to live without USDA Market News. While the markets continued to operate, we received several phone calls and heard stories of how so many small and mid-sized producers struggled without the valuable information we provide.
In the 100-year history of Market News, this was only the second time that the data reports were not available. The reports give farmers, producers and other agricultural businesses the information they need to evaluate market conditions, identify trends, make purchasing decisions, monitor price patterns, evaluate transportation equipment needs and accurately assess movement. The information, gathered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and provided for free, captures data for everything from cotton, fruits, vegetables and specialty crops, livestock, meats, poultry, eggs, grain and hay, to milk and dairy, and tobacco. Read more »
You can actually feel the wonder while discovering a new side of the U.S. Forest Service at Shedd Aquarium’s new Great Lakes Exhibit At Home on the Great Lakes.
The Shedd Aquarium, on famous Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, unveiled the exhibit as part of its renovation of the facility’s historic Local Waters Gallery. The exhibit features exciting new interactive components. Visitors experience a connection to the Great Lakes through hands-on learning and up-close encounters with native Great Lakes species.
“There is a strong connection between the health of national forests and the health of the Great Lakes,” said Regional Forester Kathleen Atkinson. “The Forest Service is thrilled to collaborate with the Shedd Aquarium to raise awareness about the interconnectedness of these resources.” Read more »
Representatives in aviation, academia, policy organizations, city, state and federal government and national governmental organizations met last week in Chicago to release recommendations and findings from MASBI - the Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative. Acting Under Secretary for Rural Development Doug O’Brien addressed the group concerning USDA’s contributions to the effort to develop “drop in” aviation biofuel from renewable feedstocks. Photo courtesy of Meg Whitty, United Airlines. Used with permission.
Last week, in Chicago, I had the honor to hear from and meet some of the leaders in the nation’s aviation industry as they assembled to issue a new report showing a clear path toward cleaner, more economical and more secure energy alternatives through the increased use of advanced aviation biofuels developed in the Midwest.
Representatives in aviation, academia, policy organizations, city, state and federal government and National governmental organizations met to release recommendations and findings from MASBI – the Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative. Read more »