Nuña beans. USDA-ARS photo.
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.
Indigenous people of the Andes Mountains in South America have farmed the nuña bean (a.k.a. “Peruvian Popping bean”) as a staple crop for centuries. Its colorful, nutty-flavored seed is especially prized for its tendency to pop open when roasted—a cooking method that requires less firewood than boiling in fuel-scarce regions.
At the Agricultural Research Service’s Western Regional Plant Introduction Station in Pullman, Washington, plant geneticist Ted Kisha curates an edible dry bean collection that includes 91 accessions of high-altitude nuña beans grown by Andean farmers in Peru, the origin for this legume member of the Phaseolus vulgaris family. Read more »
Researchers Dr. Kenneth Cain, University of Idaho, and Dr. Douglas Call, Washington State University, have developed a probiotic that fights Coldwater Disease in trout and salmon. They found the probiotic bacteria in the fish’s own gut. (Photo by Shelly Hanks, Washington State University)
After searching 15 years for a way to combat a devastating disease among salmonids (salmon and trout), researchers at Washington State University (WSU) and the University of Idaho (UI) found an answer inside the fish itself.
Dr. Kenneth Cain’s team at UI’s Aquaculture Research Institute cultured a bacteria from the fish’s gut (designated Enterobacter C6-6) and found that it inhibited the growth of Flavobacterium psychrophilum, the organism that causes Coldwater Disease.
Cain and Dr. Douglas Call, his WSU-based research partner since 2001, found that by adding C6-6 to fish feed as a probiotic they could limit the damage caused by Coldwater Disease – but they’re not quite sure why. “We know that C6-6 produces a toxin,” Call said. “This toxin kills the bacteria although we’re trying to get more funding to figure out how this works in the fish itself.” Read more »
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 »
Participants network at the fourth annual Women in Agriculture – Women, Farms & Food Conference. This year’s theme was “Put Your Best Foot Forward.”
Throughout March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been highlighting inspiring women in agriculture as part of National Women’s History Month.
Recently, I participated in the fourth annual Women in Agriculture – Women, Farms & Food Conference. This year’s theme was “Put Your Best Foot Forward.” During the one-day virtual gathering, more than 650 women across Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington State were linked via satellite in 28 locations. This enabled women from all walks of life and every sector of the agriculture supply chain to empower one another. Read more »
Robert Sorber operates the MicroDesal, which may successfully remove heavy metals, nitrates, phosphorus, and bacteria, making water safe to drink. Photo by Isaac Madsen
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 the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
Clean drinking water for the world is a pretty tall order, considering that the United Nations says nearly a billion people currently go without it. But, that’s exactly the vision that Karen Sorber had when she co-founded Micronic Technologies in 2008 as a family business.
Now a Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is bringing the company one step closer to making that dream a reality. Micronic Technologies has introduced “MicroDesal,” a technology that takes well water with unsafe nitrate levels and treats it to the point where the water meets U.S. Environmental Protection Agency clean drinking water safety standards. Nitrates are unsafe for humans – especially children and pregnant women – and livestock. Read more »
A Washington State University-led research team member works on the prototype microwave assisted pasteurization system (MAPS) unit. MAPS allows packaged foods to be safely processed more quickly and at lower cost than conventional processes. Photo courtesy of Washington State University.
During the month of April we will take a closer look at USDA’s Groundbreaking Research for a Revitalized Rural America, highlighting ways USDA researchers are improving the lives of Americans in ways you might never imagine, like innovative ways to make food safer.
More than 90 percent of American households have microwave ovens where people heat their food, yet this same technology is seldom used for large-scale production in the food industry.
As home cooks know, microwave ovens do not excel at heating food evenly. The lack of commercial-scale microwave processing technology is, in part, due to the challenge of designing equipment that is capable of pasteurization – heating all of the food evenly to a predetermined temperature for a certain length of time. Pasteurization makes food safe to eat, by inactivating bacterial and viral pathogens that can make people sick. Read more »