'USDA' on Serious Eats

USDA Unveils 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Every five years, the United States Department of Agriculture releases updated nutritional guidelines for how Americans should eat. It's from this Dietary Guidelines for Americans that everyone from policy-makers to the media gleans its federally-sanctioned eating advice. As your calendar may indicate, the 2010 guidelines have been a bit delayed, but the USDA released the official report yesterday morning. More

How the USDA Is Making Us Eat More Cheese

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has many responsibilities in overseeing the national agricultural industry. One of its most relevant duties is to provide accurate nutritional guidelines to Americans. The USDA formulates the food pyramid recommendations and oversees national food assistance programs. As an extension of these responsibilities, the USDA works to publicize healthier eating habits in an attempt to address our national health crises. Or at least, that's what we think they do. More

USDA Warns Against Fat While Funding Domino's Campaign to Get Us to Eat More Cheese

Domino's Wisconsin 6 Cheese pizza. [Photograph: Robyn Lee] This story in the New York Times is unbelievable yet at the same time depressingly, annoyingly, and frustratingly all too believable. Seems that while at once warning Americans about the dangers of obesity, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been working with Domino's to get people to eat more cheese. Urged on by government warnings about saturated fat, Americans have been moving toward low-fat milk for decades, leaving a surplus of whole milk and milk fat. Yet the government, through [USDA marketing arm] Dairy Management, is engaged in an effort to... More

Serious Green: Upgrading School Lunch

[Photograph ©iStockphoto.com/apomares] School lunch in the district where I attended K-12 was, frankly, disgusting. I was lucky enough to come from a home where there was enough money and time for me to have a home-packed lunch every day. There were plenty of kids who loved the square sausage pizza and hermetically sealed PBJs, but I'm sure there were also plenty who would have gladly eaten something else had they not been on the free-lunch program. Now, it's pretty clear that no matter if my classmates liked it or not, they shouldn't have been eating the food the school was dishing up. Schools send a message to children with the foods that are served. The additives, preservatives, and sugar... More

U.S.-Bound Spanish Iberico Pata Negra Hams to Lose Black Hooves, Cost Double

Black-hooved Iberico pigs in Spain. Photograph from Shoes on Wires on Flickr About a year ago, Iberico hams, the most gourmet of Spanish piggies, were first sold in the United States. They arrived with black hooves on—a symbol of Spanish hospitality and a guarantee of Iberico authenticity. Now after a USDA ruling effective January 2009, all hams will arrive "pata negra sin pata" (without the telltale black hoof). To make it worse, the ruling added a punitive 100 percent tariff on all bone-in Iberico hams, which will double the price of any delivered after March 2009. So one of these ridiculously expensive (and seriously delicious) $1,400 hams will now set you back $2,800. Talk about starting the year off... More

Cooking With Kids: Food Pyramid for Preschoolers

What should your 2- to 5-year-old eat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture? Beats me, because its website seems to have been put together by 2- to 5-year-olds, and when I tried to generate a custom pyramid for my 4-year-old daughter, all I got was “Could not download Redirect.aspx.” Maybe it will work better for you: Food Pyramid for Preschoolers I’m having a hard time understanding who this material is geared toward, other than fans of Comic Sans. According to the Chicago Tribune, “The new MyPyramid for Preschoolers is intended to help parents make better food choices for preschool children, aged 2 to 5 years—a critical time when food habits and taste preferences are established.” Really?... More

Move Over, Farmer's Almanac: Data Predicts Crop Growth

wired.com One of the US Department of Agriculture's jobs is to predict crop yields. To do so, they survey a sample of farmers, a method that doesn't appear to be the most effective. It's no surprise that agricultural consultancy company Lanworth is beating them at their own game. Wired reports that Lanworth, a small Illinois-based company, gets its information from satellite images, digital soil maps, and weather forecasts, allowing them to estimate harvests on an individual field scale. So far, these projections are proving to be spot-on. Last October, agricultural consultancy Lanworth not only correctly projected that the US Department of Agriculture had overestimated the nation's corn crop, it nailed the margin: roughly 200 million bushels. That's just 1.5 percent... More

GMOs Slipping Through the Cracks

In August of 2006, then Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns announced that the U.S. commercial rice supply had been tainted with an experimental, genetically modified variety unapproved for human consumption. The experimental rice supposedly posed no threat to human health, according to both the USDA and Bayer CropScience, the company that created it. However, the European Union subsequently banned imports of American rice, a move that drastically affected the domestic market. Now, 14 months later, in absence of any evidence one way or another as to how this contamination occurred, Bayer CropScience has been cleared from any governmental enforcement action, and the investigation has officially been closed.... More

In the News: Seafood OK; USDA Slow to Act; Animal-Friendly Highs

Seafood now said OK for pregnant women: In a major break with current U.S. health advice, a coalition of top scientists from private groups and federal agencies plans to advise pregnant and breast-feeding women to consume at least 12 ounces of fish and seafood a week to ensure optimal brain development of their babies. Since 2001, these groups advised pregnant that women eat no more than 12 ounces a week. [Seattle Times] USDA took 18 days to recall meat: The U.S. Department of Agriculture waited 18 days after learning that millions of pounds of ground beef made by Topps Meat Co. could be contaminated with E. coli before it concluded that a recall was necessary, according to an email from... More

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