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food availability

Another Look at Availability and Prices of Food Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Last month I discussed the impact of COVID-19 on availability and prices of food based on data and information we had available at the time. Since then, USDA released its first assessment of U.S. and world crop supply and demand prospects and U.S. prices for 2020/21, and more data on market prices, production, and trade flows during the crisis became available. Of particular note, temporary closures of some meat packing plants have affected meat supply and prices seen by consumers and farmers.

100+ Years of Tracking Nutrients Available in the U.S. Food Supply

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.

What’s in the food we eat? Have you ever wondered if the foods past generations ate as children were more nutritious than the foods you now eat, or vice versa? Well, let’s take a look at the amount of nutrients available in foods for over 100 years!

The Nutrient Content of the U.S. Food Supply is a historical data series beginning with 1909, on the amounts of nutrients available in the food supply for consumption (not nutrients consumed), on a per capita per day basis, as well as percentage contributions of nutrients by major food groups. The series provides data for food calories and the calorie-yielding nutrients which are protein, carbohydrate, and fat (total, saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and individual fatty acids); cholesterol; dietary fiber; 10 vitamins; and 9 minerals. Food supply nutrients are closely linked to food and nutrition policy, with prominence in areas related to nutrition monitoring, Federal dietary guidance, fortification policy, and food marketing strategies.

USDA Economic Data: Building Blocks for Policy

About midway through USDA’s 150-year history, federal officials decided that economic research and analysis could be a valuable, objective tool in helping farmers – and policymakers - grapple with farm price and income issues. In 1922, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics (BAE) – predecessor agency of USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) – came into existence. The Bureau began regularly producing agricultural market outlook reports (still an ERS staple), and - not surprisingly - its early work included analysis of agricultural policy impacts during the Great Depression.

Although the BAE’s functions were dispersed throughout the Department in the 1950s, they were assembled again into a single agency, the Economic Research Service, in 1961.  I’ll touch on just a few highlights of ERS activities that illustrate the value of our agency’s work over the past century.