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Going Nuts for Calories!

We all love nuts, but we’re careful not to eat too many because of the high fat calories. Now, there may be less to worry about. In a series of studies, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) physiologists David Baer and Janet Novotny looked at how many calories of almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are used by the human body. There are a lot of factors to consider, such as whether the nuts are raw, roasted, or ground, and how well they’re chewed.

Using Science to Help Keep Food Safe: A Day in the Life of a USDA Laboratory Auditor

July is the height of summer grilling season, and throughout the month USDA is highlighting changes made to the U.S. food safety system over the course of this Administration. For an interactive look at USDA’s work to ensure your food is safe, visit the USDA Results project on and read Chapter Seven: Safer Food and Greater Consumer Confidence.

From soup to nuts, we use science to help ensure the quality of agricultural products for consumers worldwide. As a Microbiologist for USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), I am one of a small group of highly-qualified auditors that travel across the country to certify over 70 private laboratories. These labs are consistently testing to verify the quality and wholesomeness of U.S. food and agricultural products.

Our Laboratory Approval Service approves, or accredits, labs that test agricultural products in support of domestic and international trade. Our programs cover a variety of products from aflatoxin testing in peanuts and tree nuts to export verification for meat and poultry products.

Making Sure Consumers Get What They Pay For

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 you buy packaged foods at the grocery store, who makes sure what it says on the outside is true on the inside—whether you are reading “100 percent sweet honey” or checking the calories in a serving of nuts?

It never says so on the label, but many times the surety rests on the science of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

California Boasts Unique and Powerful Agricultural Industry

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.

From entertainment to high-tech to world-class wine, California’s diverse industries dazzle and delight people all over the world, and our agricultural industry is no exception. The Census of Agriculture results are in and the numbers confirm what many have always known – agriculture shines bright in The Golden State. California is the agricultural powerhouse in the U.S., generating over $42.6 billion in market value of agricultural products sold. With over 25.6 million acres of land dedicated to a diversified agricultural production, it is no surprise California leads the nation.

Diversity in all things is a proud hallmark of our state, and it lends its strength to our agriculture. California is the sole producer of an amazing array of commodities eaten by people all over the world. Enjoy pomegranate juice? Almost 99 percent of all pomegranates produced in the U.S. come from California. Love almonds? Very nearly 100 percent of all almonds produced in the U.S. are grown in California. Gotta have olives?  Close to 98 percent of all olives grown in the U.S. are from California. Need artichokes?  It is the California state vegetable, and as you might have guessed, almost all of the artichokes grown in the U.S. are grown in California. California also has most if not all of the dates, figs, kiwifruit, pistachios, raisins, sweet rice and walnuts in the country.

2012 Census: A Snapshot of Peach State Agriculture

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.

Georgia may be known as the peach state, but as the 2012 Census of Agriculture results showed, in reality we are ranked 3rd in total peach acreage. The census results also showed, that just like our agricultural producers, Georgia agriculture is very diverse.

In addition to harvesting thousands of acres of peaches, Georgia farmers also now lead the United States when it comes to chickens. When I say ‘chickens’, I mean ‘broilers and other meat type chickens’, which is what you buy when you purchase chicken at the local grocery store, or what you eat when you get a chicken sandwich at your favorite fast food restaurant. When it comes to these birds, Georgia had more than 235 million, more than in any other state. Poultry producers sold 1.37 billion broilers in 2012. That is more than 4 chickens for every man, women and child in the country, based on 2010 Population Census numbers.

Teaching the World to Eat Pecans

Do they like pecan pie in Turkey?  If they don’t now, they will soon if Randy Hudson has anything to say about it.

Hudson, his wife Mary Jo and their family operate Hudson Pecan Company in Ocilla, Ga.  Currently, they have their hopes focused on Turkey as a potential new market.  This past June, Scott Hudson, Randy’s son and company vice president, traveled with USDA’s Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services, Michael Scuse, on a trade mission to Turkey. Their goal was to introduce the pecan to prospective buyers.

The June trade mission was part of President Obama’s National Export Initiative to double exports by 2014. Agriculture exports have remained on record-breaking pace since 2009.  The 2012 ag exports reached $135.8 billion, nearly tripling the values from 1999 ($48 billion).

Let’s Go Nuts on October 22nd!

This Saturday is National Nut Day, a perfect opportunity to honor nature’s nutritional dynamo– the nut.  It seems that Americans are more than a little nutty about nuts, which are considered specialty crops.  Nearly one out of every 10 of us eats nuts, or a nut product, at least once a day.  Almonds, walnuts and pecans are the top three nuts consumed in the United States* and the production of almonds, walnuts and pistachios has more than doubled in the last decade.