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January 2012

For the Love of the Game... or at Least the Chicken Wings

Whether you are an avid football fan who can’t wait until kickoff or you’re part of the 40 percent going to a Super Bowl party just for the food, there’s a good chance you will be as close to chicken wings as the television on Sunday. In fact, the National Chicken Council estimates that Americans will consume nearly 1.25 billion wings during this year’s Super Bowl.

Until 1964, wings were mostly viewed as the less desirable part of the chicken and were mostly cooked in soups. That all changed when Teressa Bellisimo, co-owner of Buffalo, New York’s Anchor Bar, decided to deep-fry chicken wings and toss them with a buttered cayenne pepper sauce. The buffalo wing was born, and since then Americans have made this food a staple—especially during sporting events.

Texas Agricultural Landowners Help the Environment and the Gulf of Mexico

For Texas rancher Dallas Ford and other Gulf Coast landowners, the Gulf of Mexico Initiative means an opportunity to make a positive difference not only on their lands, but also in the inland waters that flow into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Gulf of Mexico Initiative (GoMI) is a new program of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and many partners. It is designed to help producers in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas improve water quality and ensure sustainable agriculture production.

USDA’s New High-tech Guide to Green Thumb Glory

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.

With spring not that far away, the garden catalogues are starting to fly through the mail, but the “must read” of the moment for America’s estimated 80 million gardeners is the new Plant Hardiness Zone Map rolled out by USDA last week at

500 Florida School Kids Adopt New Skills Learned in the Great Outdoors

What makes 500 middle and high school kids from area schools near Tallahassee, Fla., happy?  Getting outside and embracing the great outdoors during a week-long U.S. Forest Service event known as ‘More Kids in the Woods.’

During the five-day outdoor event , the kids developed new skills related to archery and using BB gun ranges, discovered wild turkey hunting, and immersed themselves in wildlife interpretive and forestry information, including a demonstration of a prescribed burn to learn more about the role fire plays in managing ecosystems.

USDA Staff in Mississippi Honor the Memory of Dr. Martin Luther King with a Day of Service

On January 12, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack recognized and celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday by declaring a National Service Day for all USDA employees. The National Service Day honored Dr. King’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. Events were held simultaneously at all USDA Offices followed by a variety of Service Projects conducted in communities nationwide. USDA Rural Development Jackson, Mississippi state office employees, Michelle Wilkerson, Eliza Garcia, Ericka Butler, and Jennifer Jimerson spent National Service Day volunteering at the Jackson Stewpot Community Center.

Meet Face (and Hands) of Food Safety Bridgette Keefe-Hodgson

“Food safety worker” may bring to mind images of scientists in lab coats, inspectors at processing plants, or investigators checking out what’s on supermarket shelves. A crucial but less recognized component of protecting the public from foodborne illness, however, rests on the shoulders of those who alert consumers about potential dangers and actions they should take to keep themselves healthy and safe (Goal 3 of FSIS’ FY 2011-2016 Strategic Plan). And some of those consumers can be difficult to reach. Enter Bridgette Keefe-Hodgson, a top-notch communicator who can make sense out of the most complex language and fashion it so that it is easily understood by consumers.

Forests in Arizona Train Veterans

Civilian life is unlike that of military life in the service.  Two forests, the Apache-Sitgreaves and the Prescott National Forest have recently developed programs to help veterans in their transition to civilian life.

Through grants obtained by the U.S. Forest Service, these programs were offered to veterans from multiple branches of the armed forces with varied military service backgrounds.  Veterans were hired to these corps teams and worked on fuels reduction as wildland firefighters doing wildland fire suppression.

Good Food for All People: Food Hubs at Work in Philadelphia

There are many communities across the country grappling with limited access to affordable, fresh fruits and vegetables at a time when these same communities are fighting rising rates of childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other diet-related illnesses. The very definition of community—that inter-connectedness between residents, businesses, hospitals and schools—means that health or food issues that affect one part of the community can have a negative impact on the rest.

Working With Our Partners for a Healthier Future

Wednesday was a monumental day for kids, families, educators, administrators, food service workers and the advocates who have led the charge and worked hand in hand to deliver healthier, more nutritious food to our nation’s school children.

For the first time in over a decade the federal government has made significant changes to school meals that will provide kids across the country with the nourishment they will need to flourish in school and in life.