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Creating the Perfect Picnic with USDA’s Help

Posted by Paul M. Zankowski, Ph.D., Senior Advisor for Plant Health and Production and Plant Products, USDA Office of the Chief Scientist in Research and Science
Jul 24, 2019
USDA ARS strawberry scientists
USDA scientists gather information on strawberry fruit quality, sweetness, and storage.

Have you ever considered what it takes to create the perfect picnic beyond the hamburgers, hot dogs, and iced tea? Most often, we include wholesome fruit and veggies to create the perfect side items or sweet treats. Whether its fresh corn-on-the-cob or plump, juicy strawberries on the shortcake, USDA-related research helps bring it all together.

Earlier this month, we shared how Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists develop new varieties of a popular summer treat – watermelon. USDA also has funded breeding projects to develop more varieties of sweet corn that can stand up to environmental stress, last longer on store shelves, and have better taste, texture and aroma. Do you enjoy lettuce for a salad and on a sandwich or burger? USDA has been busy developing lettuce varieties of iceberg, romaine, and leaf types, too. And who can forget dessert? USDA has also developed better tasting strawberry varieties such as the ‘Earliglow’ and ‘Flavorfest’ for your decadent desserts and is continuing variety improvement at the ARS Genetic Improvement for Fruits and Vegetables Laboratory in Beltsville, MD.

Bright red strawberries hanging on plant
ARS ‘Flavorfest’ strawberry variety

USDA is helping to protect food by looking at ways to develop crop varieties with enhanced safety as fruits and vegetables are harvested. Besides the veggies, USDA is developing tests to detect certain bacteria related to food poisoning to help keep your barbeque safe. USDA is even funding research that produces sweeter lemons for healthier lemonade.

USDA researchers are committed to producing safe, nutritious food for you to enjoy at every summer picnic and year-round. So, when you gather family and friends for a meal, consider how USDA research may have helped make it happen.

Romaine lettuce
ARS developed romaine lettuce
Category/Topic: Research and Science