Posts Tagged “USDA”
by Biing-Hwan Lin and Rosanna Mentzer Morrison
Despite Federal nutrition guidance, food industry promotional campaigns, and encouragement from parents to “Eat your vegetables,” Americans’ consumption of fruits and, especially, vegetables has declined.
Over the last decade, loss-adjusted supplies of total fruits and vegetables available to consume in the United States have fallen from 299 pounds per person in 2003 to 272 pounds per person in 2013. Not the direction that nutritionists and others interested in the public’s health had hoped for.
However, a deeper look into the overall numbers reveals that three fruits and vegetables—orange juice, potatoes, and head lettuce—account for 22 pounds of this 27-pound decline. And, despite the decline in consumption of some fruits and vegetables, Americans are consuming more of other types of these nutrient-packed foods.
The loss-adjusted food availability data serve as a proxy for consumption by the nation as a whole but do not reveal who eats what foods and how much is eaten by particular demographic groups. A more nuanced analysis of consumption trends—by product and by demographic groups—would identify shortfalls for particular groups and help in targeting nutrition outreach efforts.
In a recent report, Economic Research Service (USDA) researchers linked ERS’s food availability data and food intake survey data, using a USDA database that translates foods into their commodity components. This linkage enabled them to break down ERS’s national consumption estimates by household and personal characteristics, helping to answer the questions: How widespread is the decline in fruit and vegetable consumption? And, is it steeper for some groups than others?
Potatoes Driving Declining Vegetable Consumption
National food intake surveys provide demographic breakdowns of who is eating what foods and how much. However, survey respondents report foods as eaten—such as a slice of apple pie, a cup of applesauce, or a glass of apple juice. A database providing the amount of apple in each food is needed to derive the total amount of apples, or other food commodities, consumed by an individual.
ERS researchers used FICRCDs to disaggregate the thousands of mixed foods recorded in the intake surveys—from apple pie to zucchini lasagna—into 63 foods and beverages, including 11 fruits or fruit groups and 15 vegetables or vegetable groups. Per capita measures of foods and beverages eaten by people in different demographic groups were estimated by taking average consumption patterns from the surveys for different subgroups of the U.S. population and applying these patterns to the loss-adjusted food availability data for the corresponding year.
Consumption of total vegetables fell across the four age and gender groups between 1994-98 and 2007-08. Much of this decline was driven by reduced consumption of potatoes, which includes baked, mashed, french fries, chips, and other forms expressed in fresh-weight equivalents. Boys (age 2 to 19) had the largest drop; their potato consumption fell from 63.7 pounds per person per year in 1994-98 to 45.2 pounds in 2007-08. Potato consumption by non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, and other races fell over the period from 63.8 to 55.4, from 52.4 to 38.2, and from 50.5 to 37.1 pounds per person per year, respectively. Throughout the period, non-Hispanic Blacks consumed about 58.1 pounds of potatoes per person per year.
Intake of tomatoes—the second most consumed vegetable—held fairly steady between 1994-98 and 2007-08 for all age groups. When consumption of potatoes and tomatoes is subtracted from the mix, consumption of other vegetables by girls, boys, and men fell, too, but not as sharply as that of potatoes. For women, annual consumption of nonpotato and nontomato vegetables increased slightly (2.2 pounds per person). Some vegetables posting gains in consumption over this period in all age groups include peppers, leafy greens, and broccoli and cauliflower.
Total vegetable consumption declined between 1994 and 2008 across four race/ethnic background groups—non-Hispanic Whites, Non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanics, and others. The decline was smallest among non-Hispanic Whites (5.5 pounds per person per year), followed by non-Hispanic Blacks (11.9 pounds), Hispanics, (23.0 pounds), and others (27.2 pounds).
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced the availability of $22 million in grants to help citrus producers fight Huanglongbing (HLB), commonly known as citrus greening disease. This funding is available through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) Citrus Disease Research and Extension Program (CDRE), which was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and is administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
“Since 2009, USDA has committed significant resources to manage, research and eradicate the citrus greening disease that threatens citrus production in the United States and other nations,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Thanks to the continued, coordinated efforts between growers, researchers, and state and federal government, we are getting closer every day to ending this threat. The funding announced will help us continue to preserve thousands of jobs for citrus producers and workers, along with significant revenue from citrus sales.”
USDA has invested more than $380 million to address citrus greening between fiscal years 2009 and 2015, including $43.6 million through the SCRI CDRE program since 2015.
HLB was initially detected in Florida in 2005 and has since affected all of Florida’s citrus-producing areas. A total of 15 U.S. states or territories are under full or partial quarantine due to the detected presence of the Asian citrus psyllid, a vector for HLB. Those states include Alabama, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
USDA has employed both short-term and longer-term strategies to combat citrus greening. Secretary Vilsack announced a Multi-Agency Coordination framework in December 2013 to foster cooperation and coordination across federal and state agencies and industry to deliver near-term tools to citrus growers to combat Huanglongbing. The Huanglongbing MAC Group includes representatives from the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), USDA NIFA, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, Environmental Protection Agency, State Departments of Agriculture from California, Florida, Texas and Arizona, and the citrus industry
A USDA study has revealed that eating grapes could help obese people decrease certain types of fats in their blood that are linked to heart disease and lower their risk of infection.
A new study shows that eating a handful of almonds everyday can improve a person’s diet quality which may have numerous lifelong health benefits.
The USDA recently awarded $20.1 million in grants to university researchers for research and extension projects to help citrus producers fight Huanglongbing, commonly known as citrus greening disease. This funding is available through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative Citrus Disease Research & Extension Program, which was authorized by the 2014 farm bill and is administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
“Citrus greening has affected more than 75 percent of Florida citrus crops and threatens production all across the United States,” Tom Vilsack, U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary, said in a press release. “The research and extension projects funded today bring us one step closer to providing growers real tools to fight this disease, from early detection to creating long-term solutions for the industry, producers and workers.”
The SCRI program addresses critical needs of the specialty crop industry by awarding grants to support research and extension activities that address key challenges of national, regional, and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of food and agriculture, including conventional and organic food production systems.
Since the SCRI CDRE program’s inception in 2014, USDA has granted $43.6 million in research dollars to combat the destructive citrus greening disease. HLB was initially detected in Florida in 2005 and has since affected the vast majority of Florida’s citrus-producing areas. It has also been detected in Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas and several residential trees in California. It has also been detected in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 14 states in Mexico. A total of 15 U.S. states or territories are under full or partial quarantine due to the detected presence of the Asian citrus psyllid, a vector for HLB. Those states include Alabama, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Wendy’s International plans to buy almost 10% of the blackberry crop for a new seasonal salad the restaurant chain is scheduled to launch in summer 2016, based on federal numbers for domestic shipments.
California Giant Berry Farm is one of the suppliers for the 2 million pound deal, which has been in the works since 2014.
Statistics from the USDA show wholesale channels shipped almost 21.2 million pounds of U.S. blackberries in 2014. California shipped about 18 million pounds through wholesale channels in 2014.
California Giant has since started ramping up its blackberry production with many of its growers ripping out raspberries and planting blackberries. Other growers are using different pruning techniques to maximize production from existing plants.
California Giant also plans to source blackberries from the Southeast U.S., including Georgia, to meet Wendy’s demand.
The timing of the Wendy’s 2016 blackberry salad is expected to come just as the Mexican deal winds down and U.S. growers begin shipping. Supplies from California usually begin peaking in late July and continue with good volumes through the end of October.
Ultimately Wendy’s officials decided to go with California Giant and one other supplier for the blackberries. For most fresh produce commodities the chain uses two to five companies to supply its 22 distribution centers across the U.S.
Wendy’s has about 6,700 locations in North America and has introduced seven new salads in the past two years. One of those, the strawberry fields chicken salad, proved so popular in 2014 that the company brought it back this year.
The company plans to continue developing fresh produce menu items, saying consumer trends are being driven partly by celebrity chefs and cooking shows that promote healthy eating including fresh fruits and vegetables.
The U.S. balance of trade for fruits and vegetables is swinging heavily to imports, with avocados and berries seeing huge growth over the past decade, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While this may not help improve the country’s trade deficite, it means increased loading opportunities for produce haulers.