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Resolve to Fight Foodborne Illness in 2014

As 2013 comes to a close and 2014 draws nearer, many people begin to think about ways in which to make their lives better in the year to come and formulate various resolutions to achieve those goals. Some people may want to lose weight and/or get more exercise. Other people may want to read more and spend less time in front of the television or computer. There are just as many types of resolutions as there are types of people, but there are four easy resolutions that can help everyone have a safer and healthier New Year.

Resolve to fight foodborne illness by following these four basic messages of safe food preparation.

Decida Luchar Contra las Enfermedades Transmitidas por los Alimentos en el 2014

Según el 2013 llega a su fin y el 2014 se acerca, muchas personas comienzan a pensar en formas para mejorar sus vidas en el año por venir y formular diversas resoluciones para alcanzar dichos objetivos. Algunas personas quieren querer bajar de peso y/o hacer más ejercicio. Otras personas pueden querer leer más y gastar menos tiempo frente al televisor o la computadora. Sólo hay tantos tipos de resoluciones, como hay tipos de personas, pero hay cuatro resoluciones fáciles que pueden ayudar a todos a tener un año nuevo más seguro y saludable.

Decida luchar contra la enfermedad transmitida por  los alimentos siguiendo estos cuatro mensajes básicos en la preparación de alimentos.

Cheers to Good Health with MyPlate - MyPlate Holiday Makeover Week 7

The MyPlate Team continues to share “Makeover Monday” recipes each week on the USDA blog and the MyPlate Facebook page through January 6th.

With two little ones in the house, I’m always looking for ways that I can introduce them to new flavors and textures of foods and beverages. This Sparkling New Year’s Cider recipe does just that! The 100 % apple juice is familiar and adds a touch of sweetness, while the cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon introduce them to new spices. The bubbles from the sparkling water also provide a fun new feeling for their mouths. Of course, adults can enjoy this beverage too!

My recipe includes spices to add a special holiday flavor.  If you aren’t familiar with star anise or cloves, you can often find them in the baking or spice section of your local grocery store. Some stores sell them individually in the bulk shopping aisle, so you only have to pay for what you need. You might also be able to find these ingredients at a discount store or specialty market.

USA Rice Honors Former USDA Official for Conservation Work

Rice producers recently honored Dave White, former chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, for his innovative conservation achievements.

White was presented with the fourth annual USA Rice Federations’ Distinguished Conservation Achievement Award at the 2013 USA Rice Outlook Conference held in Saint Louis, Mo.

“Dave worked very closely with the rice industry during his tenure as NRCS chief,” said Leo LaGrande, a California rice producer and chairman of the USA Rice Producers’ Group conservation committee. “His vision and foresight led to the development and implementation of the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative (MBHI) in several mid-South and Gulf of Mexico coastal states, including the five rice-producing states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas.”

First Ever Native American Food Hub Created in New Mexico

The air was crisp and cold as the wind blew across Sandia Pueblo in mid-December.  But, the atmosphere among the Ten Southern Pueblo Governor’s Council was warm and jovial.

Why? Because, the Governors were celebrating the obligation of a USDA Rural Development funded study that creates the first ever Native American Food Hub in the nation.

Christmas Tree Grower Branches Out

During a time of year more often associated with consumption than conservation, Daniel Logan, owner and operator of Logan Tree Farm near North Plains, Ore., shows that managing and preserving the land yields both profit and holiday cheer.

Raising Christmas trees is a family business for Logan, who can remember pruning and clipping trees as early as six years old. His family has grown Christmas trees in the area since 1883, and he continues the tradition, managing about 35 acres of Christmas trees, including Douglas, Noble, Grand and Nordmann Firs.

Alaska Growers Net Many Benefits from Seasonal High Tunnel

Seasonal high tunnels have lots of benefits, especially in a state like Alaska where cold weather leaves a short growing season. They are incredible garden heaters, season extenders and profit generating machines for Alaska growers.

Seasonal high tunnels allow farmers like Alex and Kelly Strawn in Lazy Mountain, part of Alaska’s Matanuska Valley, to save on energy costs, control where to put water and fertilizer and grow more variety of vegetables for a longer period of time.

Because of these benefits, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides assistance to farmers wanting to build a high tunnel.

A Home for the Holidays

The holidays will be extra special this year for 11 families in Reedley, Calif., who received the keys to their homes during a celebration ceremony December 19. The group spent nearly 10 months building each other's homes through USDA's Mutual Self-Help Housing Loan program.

The rules of the program are simple, though not necessarily easy. Ten- to 12 families are grouped together to pool their efforts. Each family is required to put in a minimum of 40 hours a week working on all the homes and no one moves in until every home is completed. Together, families pour foundations, frame homes, install electrical wiring, hang doors and windows and even lay tile and paint. Their labor – “sweat equity" – acts as a down payment for the home, and USDA Rural Development provides the families with mortgages through the Single Family Housing Direct Loan Program.

Recycling Christmas Trees on National Forests a Seasonal Tradition

For many, purchasing or cutting a Christmas tree is a favorite seasonal tradition. But what do you do with your trees after the festivities end?

Tree recycling after the holidays has become part of community traditions on several Eastern Region national forests. Recycled trees can be used to establish fish habitats, create mulch for future plantings and build soil erosion barriers. Using the trees for these purposes also keeps them from filling up local landfills.

Land managers of several national forests in the area have found that the old Christmas trees can be used to make a cozy home for schools of fish. Fish habitats create ideal spawning grounds to ensure successful reproduction, a place of refuge and shade for the young, and shelter from predators. Also, fish habitats provide a food source – a breeding ground for algae and plankton to attract bait fish and lure larger fish to favorite fishing spots.

A Helping Hand for Those Who Serve

The following OpEd was posted by Huffington Post this afternoon:

Everywhere I go, I hear stories of seniors, veterans, and the working poor who use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This includes returned servicemen and women who spent holidays away from their families, missing major milestones while abroad in service to their country; previous generations who have worked hard to build our American infrastructure brick by brick; and even people working in the service industry across the nation.