IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS, Pinellas Sheriff’s office create urban farms in Pinellas County

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition

Loften Center students learning about gardening and nutrition on Thursday, May 21st, 2015.

GAINESVILLE, Fla.— Residents in a county on Florida’s Gulf Coast are getting the help they need to access healthier foods via a collaboration between the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and the Pinellas Sheriff’s Police Athletic League. The two entities have teamed up to create an urban farm in Pinellas County.

Urban farms promote an abundance of food for people in need while raising awareness of health and wellness. “It is an opportunity to teach families and children the values of nutrition and establish a level of commerce for produce distribution,” said Mark Trujillo, a public health regional specialist for UF/IFAS Family Nutrition Program.

Trujillo introduced the executive director of the Pinellas Sheriff’s PAL, Neil Brickfield, to an empty U-Pick farm in Lealman, Florida, Pinellas County. After discovering the potential that the farm had to help the county, Brickfield then began to work with UF/IFAS to identify the needs of the farm and community.

Because Lealman, Florida is considered a food desert, the idea of an urban farm was essential for the area, Trujillo said. According to Brickfield, the citizens in Lealman are more than a mile from a local grocery store. “So, the urban farm is an opportunity for people to have fresh produce readily available,” Brickfield said.

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UF survey shows most Floridians want to know more about genetically modified foods

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, New Technology, Nutrition, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While almost half of Floridians acknowledge buying genetically modified foods, a recent survey by the Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Florida reveals that most people want to know much more about those foods.

“The study shows that Floridians believe they don’t know much about genetically modified foods and their benefits,” said Joy Rumble, assistant professor in agricultural education and communication at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “Many people are favorable to supporting research, and they think it’s essential that government support it. Floridians see a place for GM foods, but they do have hesitations.”

The PIE Center surveyed 500 Floridians on their perceptions of genetically modified foods. Respondents were largely unsure about the potential benefits of genetically modified food, with more than 40 percent neither agreeing nor disagreeing that food technology such as GMOs allows people to live longer or better lives.

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In UF/IFAS Extension Florida 4-H, leadership starts at a young age

Topic(s): 4-H

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Nine-year-old Rose Ducanis did not want to go to her first 4-H club meeting. “My mom pretty much had to drag me there,” Ducanis said. “I didn’t want to go because I just had no idea what to expect.” However, during that first meeting, she realized that UF/IFAS Extension Florida 4-H wasn’t just a bunch of kids listening to adults and eating snacks — it was a chance for her to find her voice as a leader.

“As I got more involved in 4-H, I realized that I had good things to say and that people would actually listen to them. You don’t often get that opportunity as a kid,” Ducanis said. Though Ducanis grew up in Davie, Florida, a suburban community, she liked how 4-H’s focus on leadership could apply to youth from any community.

Now, after nearly a decade as a 4-H member, Ducanis is the 2015–2016 Florida 4-H state council president. She has also been chosen as governor for this year’s 4-H Legislature, the main civic education event for Florida 4-H members between the ages of 13 and 18. From June 27 to July 1, youth from around the state will be at the Florida State Capitol, where they will learn to play the part of lawmakers, lobbyists and media correspondents in a mock legislative setting.

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Blueberries’ health benefits better than many perceive

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Extension, Families and Consumers, Nutrition, Research

Blueberry bush.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Consumers know some of the benefits blueberries provide, but they’re less aware of the advantages of reverting aging, improving vision and memory, a new University of Florida study shows.

Shuyang Qu, a doctoral student in agricultural education and communication at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, led the study. Joining Qu were Joy Rumble, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of agricultural education and communication, and Tori Bradley, a master’s student in the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department. Rumble’s Florida Specialty Crop grant gave the opportunity to examine consumers’ knowledge of blueberry health benefits.

Qu and her colleagues wanted to determine how much consumers know about blueberry health benefits and see if there’s a knowledge gap with blueberry health benefits among demographic groups. Using their findings, they will identify promotional opportunities for Florida blueberries.

Researchers surveyed more than 2,000 people in 31 states – mostly on the East Coast and in the Midwest – to see what they know about the health benefits of blueberries. Most were aware of the benefits of blueberries in warding off cancer and lowering the risk of heart disease. The UF/IFAS study also found that low-income populations tend to know less about blueberry health benefits.

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UF/IFAS, Pinellas Sheriff’s office create urban farms in Pinellas County

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Vegetables

Loften Center students learning about gardening and nutrition on Thursday, May 21st, 2015.

GAINESVILLE, Fla.— Residents in a county on Florida’s Gulf Coast are getting the help they need to access healthier foods via a collaboration between the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and the Pinellas Sheriff’s Police Athletic League. The two entities have teamed up to create an urban farm in Pinellas County.

Urban farms promote an abundance of food for people in need while raising awareness of health and wellness. “It is an opportunity to teach families and children the values of nutrition and establish a level of commerce for produce distribution,” said Mark Trujillo, a public health regional specialist for UF/IFAS Family Nutrition Program.

Trujillo introduced the executive director of the Pinellas Sheriff’s PAL, Neil Brickfield, to an empty U-Pick farm in Lealman, Florida, Pinellas County. After discovering the potential that the farm had to help the county, Brickfield then began to work with UF/IFAS to identify the needs of the farm and community.

Because Lealman, Florida is considered a food desert, the idea of an urban farm was essential for the area, Trujillo said. According to Brickfield, the citizens in Lealman are more than a mile from a local grocery store. “So, the urban farm is an opportunity for people to have fresh produce readily available,” Brickfield said.

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Survey: Most Floridians concerned about food waste, safety

Topic(s): Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

Displays of fresh vegetables and produce. Photo taken 10-01-15.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Often without much thought, Americans throw out more than one-third of all food grown in the United States each year. However, a majority of Floridians acknowledge food waste is a major concern.

­­­Sixty percent of Floridians agreed or strongly agreed that they are concerned about food waste in their household, according to a recent food waste survey of 500 Florida residents conducted by the Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Florida. The PIE Center is part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

It was also discovered through the survey that fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products most often go to waste. Oppositely, beverages, spices and seafood are the food items that go to waste least.

The survey also captured public perceptions on food safety.

Results from the survey revealed that 42 percent of Floridians feel that food safety is a major concern and 68 percent feel responsible for their own food safety.

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UF/IFAS Extension Lee County to host Tropical Fruit Fair on June 25

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Vegetables
Persimmons. Photo taken 10-3-15

Persimmons

MYERS, Fla. — Julie Falconer, walked through the teeming aisles of the “Taste of Lee Tropical Fruit Fair” in Ft. Myers, Florida, and popped a piece of jackfruit in her mouth. She savored the sweet, pungent taste of the fruit usually found in south and Southeast Asia.

“Everyone in our family is a gardener, and I grew up on a farm in Michigan with tons of fruit trees,” said Falconer, who lives in St. James City, Florida. “Now, we are trying to learn what grows in Florida, because we love to eat fruit and want to grow our own tropical fruits.”

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Lee County office hosts the ninth annual “Taste of Lee Tropical Fruit Fair” on June 25 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will be held at Gate Ministries, 1735 Jackson Street, Fort Myers, 33901. Admission is $2; children under 12 are free.

The fair, a collaboration between UF/IFAS Extension Lee County and the Coloosa Rare Fruit Exchange, draws more than 3,000 visitors each year. Young and old taste everything from mangoes to gooseberries to jack fruit.

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UF/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program celebrates 20 years of serving Floridians

Topic(s): Agriculture, Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Vegetables

A family having a picnic for the Healthy eating calendar and IFAS branding images.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — At first, Sheila Bryant was skeptical about the cooking class offered by the University of Florida’s UF/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program. The program was started 20 years ago to help low-income families make better food choices to prevent chronic diseases.

Bryant, who attended the “Cooking that Matters” class in Gainesville, Florida, believed that decades of eating her own cooking was probably good enough. But she walked away a convert to healthier eating.

“Oh my, I learned so much: how to cut down on fat, incorporate more vegetables and lean meats in my meals, and how to make better choices,” Bryant said. “Now, instead of ordering Chinese food, I make my own stir-fry and invite my neighbors and friends over for a feast. I’ve spread the gospel of the Family Nutrition Program to anyone I meet.”

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UF/IFAS helps local farmers break into the local food movement

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Research

Buying and selling at an outdoor farmers' market

Please see caption below the story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When it comes to defining “local” food, things are hardly black and white. Instead, consumers perceive degrees of localness rather than firm local and non-local divisions, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers have found.

Now researchers are using these findings to help Florida farmers effectively market their produce to Floridians.

“There is no official definition of local food in the way that there is for USDA organic food, for example,” said Joy Rumble, professor of agricultural education and communication at UF/IFAS. As a result, “local” has become a relative term. A consumer will say that a tomato grown in the county where she lives is more local than one grown in another part of the state, said Rumble. However, she will also say that a tomato grown anywhere in Florida is more local than one grown in Mexico.

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Want to conserve more water? Target those who already save a little

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, Research

In this photo released from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, extension agent Janet Bargar checks the water flow and direction of a pop-up irrigation system at a home in Vero Beach – Friday, May 25, 2007. Bargar, a water quality expert, suggests residents check with their county extension office about local watering restrictions. She says the ideal time to water is before sunrise and that residents should check irrigation systems regularly to be sure they’re working properly and not watering the sidewalk.

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Researchers call them “water considerate” consumers because they conserve water fairly well but could stand some improvement. These water users might be the most appropriate people to target if you want to get more people to conserve water, a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study shows.

Laura Warner, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of agricultural education and communication and the leader of the newly published study, worked with a team of UF/IFAS researchers to conduct an online survey of 1,063 Floridians.

“The key takeaway is that there is a group of people who really care about water but have room for improvement in their landscape water conservation practices,” Warner said.

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