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Posts tagged: USDA

Healthy Foods Not Necessarily More Expensive Than Less Healthy Ones

Fruits and vegetables appear more expensive than less healthy foods when the price is measured by calories rather than by weight or by amount in an average serving. The price measure has a large effect on which foods are determined more expensive.Fruits and vegetables appear more expensive than less healthy foods when the price is measured by calories rather than by weight or by amount in an average serving. The price measure has a large effect on which foods are determined more expensive.

Fruits and vegetables appear more expensive than less healthy foods when the price is measured by calories rather than by weight or by amount in an average serving. The price measure has a large effect on which foods are determined more expensive.

Most Americans’ diets fall short of Federal recommendations, especially when it comes to whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and fruits and vegetables. Some nutrition researchers and food writers blame cost, saying fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods are more expensive than less healthy ones.  And on a per calorie basis, that’s true.  Calorie-sparse fruits and vegetables cost more than a donut, and skim milk costs more than whole.  But is price per calorie the only way to think about a food’s cost? Read more »

Secretary’s Column: “The Peoples’ Department: 150 Years of USDA”

On May 15, we will recognize the 150th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  On that date in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law an act of Congress establishing USDA.

Two and a half years after he established the Department, in what would be his final annual message to Congress, Lincoln called USDA “The People’s Department.”

President Lincoln knew the importance of agriculture to our prosperity – particularly at a time when about half of all Americans lived on the farm. And while that number today stands at about 2 percent, our values are still rooted in rural America. Read more »

Consumers Find Food Products with Less Trans Fat

Nutrition label on a can indicating amount of trans fats per serving

Nutrition label on a can indicating amount of trans fats per serving

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. Read more »

How a Pioneering Woman and the Early USDA Launched a Second California “Gold Rush”

This year USDA is commemorating the 150th anniversary of our founding.  From time to time we will post blogs – like this one – that look to celebrate our past accomplishments and share the unique and important contributions the Department has made to the nation over 150 years. Also, be sure to sign up for USDA at 150 Factoid Series for historical facts and photos here.

If you have ever enjoyed the delicious sweetness of California navel oranges, you might be surprised to discover that you have California pioneer Eliza Lovell Tibbets and USDA’s first botanist and landscape designer William Saunders to thank. Read more »

USDA Economic Data: Building Blocks for Policy

About midway through USDA’s 150-year history, federal officials decided that economic research and analysis could be a valuable, objective tool in helping farmers – and policymakers – grapple with farm price and income issues. In 1922, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics (BAE) – predecessor agency of USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) – came into existence. The Bureau began regularly producing agricultural market outlook reports (still an ERS staple), and – not surprisingly – its early work included analysis of agricultural policy impacts during the Great Depression.

Employees of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics (circa 1930), predecessor agency of the Economic Research Service.

Employees of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics (circa 1930), predecessor agency of the Economic Research Service.

Although the BAE’s functions were dispersed throughout the Department in the 1950s, they were assembled again into a single agency, the Economic Research Service, in 1961.  I’ll touch on just a few highlights of ERS activities that illustrate the value of our agency’s work over the past century. Read more »

SNAP Benefits Lessen Depth and Severity of Poverty

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.

To help those in need make ends meet, the Federal Government offers a variety of assistance programs.  Some provide cash, but more offer in-kind assistance such as subsidized rents or assistance with home energy bills. USDA provides eligible households with in-kind assistance in the form of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits to buy groceries (formerly called the Food Stamp Program). But these benefits, and other in-kind assistance, are not counted as income when the Census Bureau calculates official poverty rates.  Not accounting for these benefits understates the resources of U.S. families who receive them and masks the greater relative hardship of those who do not. Read more »