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Discovering the Health Benefits of Wine Grape Seeds

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.

What happens to seeds from wine grapes? They’re typically put in compost, mixed in cattle feed, or dumped in landfills. But this may be seen as a waste for bakers who like cooking with specialty ingredients and those of us who are looking for foods that could benefit our health.

The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is partnering with WholeVine Products in Sonoma, California, to explore the health benefits of unique wine grape seed flours, which can be used in breads, cookies, crackers and other goodies.

From Over 100,000 to 1: Partners Band Together to Beat the European Grapevine Moth

Last fall, the results of trapping for the European Grapevine Moth (Lobesia botrana or EGVM) in California were recounted during a conference call for the partners working to eradicate this invasive insect: zero, zero, zero, one moth.

We’ve gone from more than 100,000 EGVM trapped in 2010 to just one in 2014. This success makes the EGVM detection and eradication partnership one of the most effective programs for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), county departments of agriculture, University of California Cooperative Extension (UC Coop), and growers in the last decade.

USDA Marketing Orders and Agreements Foster Industry Innovation

Success is often achieved when you have access to a number of tools and know how and when to use them. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is equipping produce businesses with the proper tools for success through our Marketing Order and Agreement Division (MOAD). As discussed before, this division administers fruit and vegetable marketing orders and agreements designed to support the industry’s financial and commercial success with the help of tools such as funding production and market research.

As self-help programs requested for and completely funded by the industry, marketing orders and agreements can address issues ranging from combating invasive species to identifying key product attributes based on consumer preferences. Our MOAD employees oversee industry boards and committees as they partner with local universities and organizations to overcome these types of challenges.

Happy Birthday to Washington State!

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

Just a couple of days ago, on November 11, Washington celebrated its 125th anniversary of statehood, and farming has been one of the cornerstones of the Evergreen State since the very beginning. Using new information from the Washington Department of Agriculture, which is spotlighting farms that have been in the same family since before statehood, combined with the Census of Agriculture, we can easily see this connection.

The 1890 Census of Agriculture reported that apples were already Washington’s top fruit and the state’s dryland wheat farms were tremendously productive. Our farmers stay true to this tradition to this very day. Almost half of all apples grown in the United States come from our state. The 2012 Census of Agriculture counted nearly 175,000 acres of apple orchards in Washington.

Organization Honors Farmers for Outreach Efforts, Innovation

The National Organization of Professional Black Natural Resources Conservation Service Employees recently honored three farm families at their annual outreach and agricultural education exposition.

The Lloyd Wright Small Farmer Award is named after the organization’s founder. The award is given to producers who share a passion for improving awareness and development in the field of agriculture. The organization selected Kentucky rancher William E. Boulden, Jr. for first place, Texas grape growers Alphonse and Martha Dotson for second, and Mississippi ranchers Percy and Emma Brown for third.

Quality You Can Trust

When you think of what really makes fruit and vegetables stand out it usually comes down to quality.  Determining quality – making sure your fresh food looks, smells, feels and tastes just the way you expect it to – is what USDA’s Quality Monitoring Program (QMP) does.

The program, run by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Specialty Crops Inspection Division, allows produce suppliers and others to have products inspected by USDA based on specific internal standards or U.S. grade standards.  As a neutral third-party, USDA evaluates various commodities through QMP – everything from olive oil to canned, frozen and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Stop Stink Bug Project

Calling all insect enthusiasts and frustrated gardeners!  USDA scientists need your help in documenting Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs (BMSB) in your home. Beginning September 15th through October 15th, we’re asking citizens across the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States to record daily counts of this pest on the exterior of their homes, along with their location and the time of each count. While USDA scientists are focusing on the Mid-Atlantic region, any data they can get from other U.S. regions would also be helpful to their research.

The quest to find out just how many stink bugs there are, and how they behave, is the brainchild of a consortium of researchers from USDA, the University of Maryland, Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University, Virginia Tech, the Northeastern IPM Center, Oregon State University, North Carolina State University, Cornell University, the University of Delaware and Washington State University. This project is represented on the website, “Stop BMSB (,” which was launched in 2011.

A New World-Old World Problem and How Genetic "Fingerprints" May Help

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.

When it comes to grapes, there’s a New World-Old World dichotomy. Grapevines originating in the Americas (e.g. Vitis labrusca, Vitis riparia) can resist pests and diseases, but they generally don’t have the taste or aroma of grapes with European origins (Vitis vinifera).  But European grapes are more susceptible to pests and disease.

Grape breeders try to combine the best of both worlds, but here’s the problem: if you cross one grape with another, there is no guarantee your progeny will inherit the desirable traits. And because it takes so much time to grow a grapevine, produce grapes from those vines, and for those grapes to be evaluated, bringing a new grape to market can take 20 years or more. Scientists can speed things up by identifying genes that give grapes the right blend of the best characteristics. Identifying the genes will tell you the characteristics of the vine without having to wait for it to grow.

Appeal of Diverse Side of Ag Statistics

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.

2013 is the International Year of Statistics. As part of this global event, every month this year USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will profile careers of individuals who are making significant contributions to improve agricultural statistics in the United States.

Growing up in the rural community of St. James, Louisiana, I always had a passion for agriculture. In 1992, I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Business from Southern University A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and earned a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Washington State University two years later.

For my master’s thesis, I created an economic model analyzing the profitability of the Washington state asparagus industry. To get the data for my thesis, I created and mailed questionnaires, editing and analyzing all of the responses. This experience sparked my interest in the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), and I joined the agency’s California Field Office in 1994.

Reducing Food Waste: It's More Than Just Cleaning Your Plate

When you think of steps that can be taken to improve our environment and mitigate climate change, "reducing food waste" probably doesn't come to mind right away.  But in fact, food waste is an important factor in climate change, because wasted food represents 20 percent by weight of the solid waste going to landfills. This decomposing food quickly generates methane, a greenhouse gas 21 percent more potent than carbon dioxide.

Wasted food also represents a drain on natural resources–after all, land and water are needed to produce that food.  That's why the U.S. Department of Agriculture has collaborated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to launch the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, calling on producer groups and others to join in efforts to reduce food loss and waste, recover wholesome food for human consumption, and recycle discarded food to feed animals, produce compost or even generate energy.