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national institute of food and agriculture

What's the Alternative?

We know that antibiotics are those miracle drugs Alexander Fleming stumbled upon in the 1920’s when his lab was left untidy. Since that happy accident, scientists have identified additional naturally-occurring antibiotics and developed synthetic drugs to add to our arsenal to combat bacterial infections.

So we’ve had bacteria, through their need to survive, learning how to develop resistance to naturally occurring antibiotics in the environment for eons; long before we started purposefully adding more antibiotics to the mix. So though we need antibiotics, it would be really nice if we could find ways to rely on them less.

NIFA-funded projects help improve quality of life in Indian Country

When the 1994 land-grant universities began to form there was a hint that something different and special was underway.  The new land-grant system would teach in a cultural context that empowered students by drawing on the strength of their peoples’ history, indigenous knowledge, and traditions.  There are now 34 tribal land-grant institutions that have made great strides in their ability to serve their communities.  The following blogs and publication illustrate the positive outcomes of NIFA-funded research, education, and extension programs in Indian Country.

 A sweet camp for native youth

For some Native American children, a well-loved tradition is gathering maple syrup in early spring.  USDA’s National Institute of Food and Nutrition provides grants to support a unique camp where reservation youth can experience their cultural traditions while learning plant science.  Camp instructors teach the youth about the science of xylem and phloem (the systems of transporting water, minerals, food, etc., throughout a plant) and why the trees produce the sugar sap. Tribal elders explain the cultural and historic significance of maples to the campers.  It’s all part of a bigger initiative to promote food security in an area where grocery stores are scarce.  Read more.

Native American Civil Rights Legend Urges Action

Legendary Native American Indian activist, educator and former government official Ada Deer (Menominee) delivered a charge to those attending USDA’s Native American Heritage Month observance here in Washington last week. “Be activists to achieve change,” she said. “We all pay our rent on the planet.  How are you paying your rent?”

A former head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, she recently retired as director of the American Indian Studies Department and Director of the School of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  In my introduction, I noted that Ms. Deer’s life is a tribute to tribal sovereignty and self-determination. She is a role model to all Native Americans, but especially to Native American women.  Not surprisingly, Ms. Deer spoke passionately about the role of Tribal colleges and universities.  This year marks the 20th anniversary of their recognition by Congress as land grant institutions.  These colleges and universities are central to the Tribes. They mark a firm move away from the old boarding school model and provide life-long learning opportunities in Tribal communities.  “Education,” said Ms. Deer, “empowers people to enact positive change.”

How EDEN can help YOU prepare for disasters

With the annual hurricane season brewing and potential winter storms on the horizon – not to mention the ever-present tornadoes, earthquakes, drought and fire – federal agencies are joining forces this month to help Americans prepare for and survive disasters.

 September is National Preparedness Month and America’s PrepareAthon! is a national awareness campaign to get families and communities thinking about how to respond in the event of a disaster or other emergency.  Saluting the “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare” theme, the month’s events conclude on September 30 with National PrepareAthon! Day.  Are you getting involved?

“Spuds Unearthed!” Exhibit Digs Up History of the Potato

The potato is the world’s fourth largest food crop and is the largest vegetable crop in the United States. The crop originated in the Andes Mountains in South America, and in the ensuing 7,000 years, has spread across the globe. Potatoes have played an important role in saving populations of people around the world from starvation. However, the potato has had a tumultuous history, suffering from late blight disease, which caused the Irish potato famine and a severe outbreak in 2009 in the United States.

Community Food Projects Announces Funding Availability

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced the availability of nearly $5 million in funds for community-based food and agriculture projects through the Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program (CFP). Applications should: Meet the needs of low-income people by increasing access to fresher, more nutritious food supplies; Increase the self-reliance of communities in providing for their own food needs; Promote comprehensive responses to local food, farm, and nutrition issues; Meets specific state, local, or neighborhood food and agricultural needs for infrastructure improvement and development; Plans for long-term solutions; and/or Create innovative marketing activities that benefit both agricultural producers and low-income consumers.