Skip to main content

November 2014

Secretary's Column: Celebrating Our Nation's Agricultural Abundance this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a celebration of the harvest and the abundance of food we are able to share with our friends and family. This Thanksgiving, take a moment to thank the farmers and ranchers who make our nation’s agricultural abundance possible. Without them, the safe, abundant and affordable food we’ll put on our tables at Thanksgiving would not be possible.

At the same time, this Thanksgiving, it is important to remember those less fortunate. Many people will donate time, food or other resources to a food bank to brighten the holiday for families in their communities, and I am proud to say that many USDA employees are among them. I am also proud that through our People’s Garden Initiative, we’ve been able to donate 3.9 million pounds of fresh produce to food banks across the country over the last few years.

Kentucky Jail Uses a High Tunnel to Grow Fresh Food

Kentucky Jailer Joe Blue is passionate about rehabilitating inmates. Innovative ideas for teaching new skills are always on his mind, which is how the Hopkins County jail’s gardening program was started.

The Kentucky jail sits on several acres and has a large farm just across the street. As Blue was walking around the property one day, he looked across the street and thought: “What’s the difference in that land and our land? Why can’t we grow our own food here?”

Partnering to Improve Market Data in Brazil

Quality data is paramount when it comes to helping markets reach their full potential. This is especially true in the agriculture industry where businesses are always searching for reliable data that can help them make important decisions like what to produce or how much to buy. I recently joined a team of USDA employees from my agency -- the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) -- and the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) that traveled to Brazil to share how we collect and disseminate key market data to help buyers and sellers make informed decisions.

Our trip to Brazil presented several opportunities to increase transparency in the inter-connected global marketplace. The primary purpose of the trip to Brasilia was to participate in the Regular Meeting of the Market Information for the Organization of the Americas (MIOA), which brings together a network of 33 member countries to collect, process, analyze, and disseminate information relative to markets and agricultural commodities.

Turkey Tips Step 4: Loving Your Leftovers

It’s over.

All of your guests have scraped their Thanksgiving dinner plates clean and have migrated from the dinner table to the couch.

While you may want to immediately relax and celebrate after preparing a successful meal, it’s important that you first refrigerate any leftovers within two hours. Prompt storage can prevent pathogenic bacteria that cause foodborne illness from growing on your leftovers. These bacteria can’t be smelled or tasted.

Fast-Food Purchasers: Examining Their Time-Use Patterns

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.

Time is a limited resource. Deciding on how to utilize each minute in your 24-hour day is crucial.  However, the choice between using a portion of the day for food shopping, cooking, and cleaning up versus grabbing a fast food meal can have implications for our health and diet quality as well as other aspects of well-being. While fast-food purchases may save time, they have been linked to Americans’ poor diet quality and expanding waistlines.

Time-use patterns may provide clues as to what motivates fast-food purchases and in this way may help inform policies and other initiatives aimed at improving Americans’ diet quality.  Recently, we used time-use diaries from a nationally representative survey to examine how the time-use decisions of those who purchase fast food on a given day differ from the average of the U.S. population.

Made in Native America - Exports Growing the Market

During the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) 71st Annual Marketplace & Convention, I had the privilege to host “Made in Native America: A Workshop on Native Business Exporting”. In this seminar, Tribal leaders and Native business owners came together to discuss the benefits and challenges of moving Native-made/Native-harvested products abroad.

“I believe as we start growing and working together, we’ll never have the poverty that we’ve seen in Indian Country,” says Karlene Hunter, CEO of Native American Natural Foods, during the workshop’s first panel. She continued by remarking, “You need to know your market. You need to know your capacity.”

Avoiding Bed Bug Nightmares This Holiday Season

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.

Most are familiar with the phase, “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite,” but few people know what a bed bug looks like or problems they can cause. From World War II until just recently, bed bugs were not at all common in the United States.  Bed bugs are now found in many homes, apartments, college dorm rooms, and even in public facilities such as theaters, hospitals, schools, and libraries.  Now that bed bugs are back, everyone needs to know how to recognize them, how they move from one location to the next, and where they hide so we can prevent large infestations.

Before You Slice the Turkey, Give Thanks to Those Wild Cousins

According to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, the U.S. is the world’s largest turkey producer and largest exporter of turkey products. An estimated 46 million turkeys will show up on American tables this holiday, and most of those will come from turkey production facilities.

A much smaller percentage featured on the holiday table will be wild turkeys hunted on private and public lands. There are more than 7 million wild turkeys roaming the countryside, but their numbers were not always that robust. According to the National Wild Turkey Federation, which partners with the U.S. Forest Service, the tasty game bird native to the U.S. faced extinction in the 1930s.

What Most People Don't Realize is Behind Their Thanksgiving Dinner

You can picture it now, can’t you? The familiar sounds of a parade or football game playing on the TV while little ones chase each other through the house. More friends and family members than you can ever remember in one place at the same time. And the aroma … those delightful smells that let you know it’s a holiday.

You see the table surrounded by mismatched chairs, dinnerware and cutlery. And on that table, neatly decorated with the rich colors of the season, sit bowls filled with traditional fare and in the center of it all, the pièce de résistance – the golden brown bird around which the entire meal is built. Turkey. The year’s most prestigious meal!