The National Institute of Food and Agriculture offers research grants to help respond to the world's water security issues. (iStock photo)
April 22 marks the 45th celebration of Earth Day, with its theme of “It’s our turn to lead.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is a leader in its support of cutting-edge sustainable and organic agricultural research.
The USDA estimated that 31 percent—or 133 billion pounds—of the 430 billion pounds of the available food supply at the retail and consumer levels in 2010 went uneaten in the United States. It’s not just people throwing away food after “super sizing;” food waste can begin at the farm, where crops are sometimes not harvested because they lack a perfect appearance. Waste also occurs through spoilage or improper cooking.
As bad as this is in terms of not feeding the hungry, wasting food is also wasting energy, water, and everything else required to grow, process, transport, and prepare food. Improving resource efficiency would also decrease the amount of nitrogen released to the environment. Read more »
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.
Global water awareness and future water security happens locally—one student, one teacher, and one lesson at a time.
Often we hear that better thinking is needed to address particularly prickly societal problems, business challenges, or scientific conundrums. ThinkWater is a national project supported by a $900,000 grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The project is designed by educators, scientists, and activists in partnership with the University of Wisconsin Extension to add thinking skills and awareness into existing water education lessons. Read more »
The Chicago Public Schools System has incorporated locally-grown produce into school menus, providing students with fresh, healthy food. (Administrator Anne Alonzo, 4th from right) USDA Photo Courtesy of Peter Wood.
March is National Nutrition Month, and local food plays an important role in providing Americans with fresh, healthy fuel for their bodies. From farmers to financiers to schools and hospitals, there is a lot of passion for sharing good food by supporting strong local and regional food systems. I experienced this firsthand during my trip to Chicago, Ill., where I spoke at last week’s Good Food Festival & Conference.
The trip came on the heels of a recent announcement that USDA is making $97 million available to expand access to healthy food and support rural economies. Grants from my agency — the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – make up over $90 million of that funding. AMS was a sponsor and exhibitor at the trade show, where we shared information with stakeholders about the many resources we have to support local and regional food systems. Through our Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (comprised of the Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Local Food Promotion Program), AMS supports producers, local food entrepreneurs, and rural and urban communities across the country. Read more »
Professor Edward Jones discusses an alfalfa nutrition experiment with Delaware State University students (left to right) Tony Carney, Latisha Corey, and Karen Meyer. (USDA photo by Scott Bauer)
February is traditionally a month of celebration for our nation’s 1890 land-grant universities (LGUs) in commemoration of Black History Month. These institutions are historically-black universities that were established in 1890 under the Second Morrill Act. Now, as the month draws to an end, the 1890 LGUs are setting their sights on August 30, which marks the 125th anniversary of the Congressional action that created a network of historically black colleges and universities dedicated to providing educational opportunity for all through innovative scientific research and community-minded Extension programs.
“One of the ways we can best honor black history is by providing a proper foundation to support future achievement. Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and Extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation’s future,” said Cathie Woteki, USDA’s Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics. Read more »
The Common Market team, led by founders Haile Johnston (far left in red shirt) and Tatiana Garcia-Granados (far right in orange sweater), brings food into Philly communities by connecting Mid-Atlantic farmers with wholesale customers. Photo courtesy Common Market.
It all started with one truck—one truck and the idea that bringing fresh, healthy foods into Philly communities was just a question of coordination. For Haile Johnston and his wife, Tatiana Garcia-Granados, founding Common Market was the logical solution to solve the food access issues they saw in the communities around them.
“The core of Common Market is selling to schools and hospitals,” said Johnston. “Historically, they have been the hardest institutions to reach. They serve the most vulnerable population. That’s why we focus on partnering with schools and hospitals.”
Their food hub business model connects local farmers in the rural Mid-Atlantic region with wholesale customers in urban areas. In their first year, Common Market worked with only a dozen farmers and had 22 customers, but they kept growing—adding trucks and building relationships with local family farms and institutional buyers in urban communities. Read more »
With over 11,000 dairy farms, more than a million cows, and over 200 dairy plants, Wisconsin produces more than 25 percent of all cheese in the United States. Photo courtesy of Yelp Inc.
’Tis the season for good cheer, holiday festivities and cheese plates. There are seemingly endless varieties to enjoy – Gouda, Blue, Cheddar, Asiago, Feta, Muenster and many more. Hardworking American dairy farmers and cheese artisans make these delicious products. A strong dairy sector not only provides us with delicious food for the holiday table, it also has a great impact on rural America and local economies.
My agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), has a long history of working with the dairy industry, state governments and stakeholders to help farmers and producers. I’ve actually been able to see first-hand how AMS programs services benefit dairy operations. In August, I toured two Wisconsin dairy farms – Rosendale Dairy, a large farm with over 8,500 cows, and R&G Miller & Sons, an organic dairy farm with about 260 milking cows. Read more »