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Posts tagged: ERS

Secretary’s Column: A New Report that Highlights the Need for a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill

There are a wide range of important reasons why rural America needs passage of a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible. One of the most pressing is to grow the rural economy in a way that creates new jobs and reverses the troubling decline in population that we’ve seen recently in America’s small towns.

This week, USDA’s Economic Research Service released its annual report on the economic condition of rural America – the 2013 Rural America at a Glance report.   The data in this report underscores the challenges of stagnant job growth and persistent poverty faced by many communities across rural America. Read more »

Lower-fat French Fries? You Bet!

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.

Americans love, love, love their spuds:  In 2010, per capita consumption of potatoes in the U.S. hit almost 114 pounds, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. One of our favorite ways to dish up this versatile veggie is in the form of French fries.

Of course, deep-frying those potato slices to golden crispness adds extra calories from the oil.  But what if you could indulge your French fry craving with fewer calories? And what if the technique to achieve that was more environmentally friendly than conventional fry preparation? Read more »

When Schools Improve Meals, Positive Results Follow

The last few years have seen significant improvements to the health of the school environment.  Schools across the country are increasing their efforts to prevent childhood obesity by serving healthier school meals providing more time for physical activity, and helping kids learn about proper nutrition.  It’s clear that the new, healthier school meals implemented last year are working and having a positive impact on the health of our next generation.

We recently surveyed states and schools across the country, and the vast majority of schools—80 percent—have already reported that they are meeting the updated meal standards successfully, with some states reporting 100% of schools completely transitioned to the new standards.  We expect the remaining schools to “make it official” soon, too.  In fact, a study just released by the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project found that last year 94 percent of U.S. school districts said they were on track to meet the updated nutrition standards for lunches by now. Read more »

Back to School with Statistics, Join USDA’s Virtual Open House

A new academic year is here for millions of students and teachers across the country, and in spirit of the many back to school nights and open houses taking place, I’m encouraging you to explore USDA’s International Year of Statistics Virtual Open House.

The International Year of Statistics, sponsored by more than 2,000 organizations – including the USDA – is a worldwide event to help teach everyone about the powerful and far-reaching effects of statistics. When people hear the word “statistics,” they often think of sports statistics or the course they took and struggled to pass. While you can think of statistics in these terms, there is more to the relationship between you and statistics than you may imagine. Read more »

The Essentials of Food and Agriculture – in Charts and Maps

This is one of more than 75 charts and maps in Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials from USDA’s Economic Research Service, compiling a set of key statistics on the ag and food sectors and the rural economy. Each chart in the collection includes accompanying text.

This is one of more than 75 charts and maps in Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials from USDA’s Economic Research Service, compiling a set of key statistics on the ag and food sectors and the rural economy. Each chart in the collection includes accompanying text.

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.

With the abundance of news and information on the food and agriculture sector, sometimes it is helpful to take a step back and look at the big picture. You might be a seasoned expert on food, agriculture, or the rural economy, or you may have just a general knowledge. In any case, there are a number of key indicators that will bring you up to speed on a range of basic questions.

How much, for example, do agriculture and related industries contribute to the U.S. economy? Which commodities are our main agricultural exports? What share of their household incomes do Americans spend on food? How do job earnings in rural areas compare with metro areas? How much of our Nation’s water does agriculture consume? Read more »

Next Year at School: New Standards Point to Healthier Snacks and Other Competitive Foods

Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, “competitive foods” in schools (a la carte and vending machine items) will be subject to new nutritional standards.

Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, “competitive foods” in schools (a la carte and vending machine items) will be subject to new nutritional standards.

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.

Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, “competitive foods” in schools will be subject to new nutritional standards. Competitive foods include à la carte cafeteria items like pizza, French fries, and ice cream, as well as snacks and beverages sold in vending machines or at snack bars, school stores, or other locations.

Referred to as “competitive foods” because they compete with meals served through the National School Lunch Program, these foods and beverages are currently inconsistently regulated and frequently high-calorie, low-nutrient options. Competitive foods are more common at secondary than at elementary schools. A 2005 survey revealed that 32 percent of elementary schools and more than 60 percent of secondary schools offered non-milk a la carte items. Vending machines were found in 27 percent of elementary, 87 percent of middle, and 98 percent of high schools. Read more »