University of Florida

“Dine In” with your colleagues, family and friends on Dec. 3

Topic(s): Announcements, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition

Family Eating An Al Fresco Meal

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Dig in! Dec. 3 marks the second annual day for “Dining In” for Healthy Families across the United States, and UF/IFAS Extension faculty are encouraging everyone to enjoy a nutritious meal with those close to them, which also enhances communication.

Eating together at home as a family shows many benefits, as documented in scientific research. The American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) has chosen to focus of families dining-in— no matter the size of a family.

The Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences is planning a lunch for Dec. 3 in its conference room on campus, and faculty and staff encourage all campus units, county Extension offices and UF/IFAS research and education centers to do the same, as well as dining with their families that evening, said Linda Bobroff, a UF/IFAS nutrition and health professor.

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Students help UF/IFAS professor breed better, tastier peppers

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, Crops, IFAS, Nutrition, Research


Horticulture Professor Balasubramanian Rathinasabapathi (Saba). Experiments, beaker, laboratory.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences students are learning how to breed better peppers under the guidance of Professor Bala Rathinasabapathi.

And by “better,” we mean a more savory taste, among other characteristics. Florida produces $207 million worth of bell peppers annually, according to the Florida Department Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). In fact, as of 2012, Florida ranked second nationally in the value of bell peppers. Improving traits may help the Florida pepper industry grow even larger.

Now, for a new study published in the Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, Rathinasabapathi and his team cross-bred two heirloom varieties of peppers – the Bulgarian Carrot and the Round of Hungary — to come up with more desirable consumer traits.

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UF/IFAS experts predict food trends for 2016

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


Lunch, carrots, watermelon, and salad sit on a table cloth with a picnic basket.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As 2015 starts to wind down, world-renowned food scientists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are already predicting trends for 2016. As they do, here are some hints as to what you can expect see in grocery stores and on your dinner table:

Total sensory foods – Smart food manufacturers now appreciate that flavor and aroma alone are not enough for many consumers, and that visual and textural stimuli are also important to the consumer. Foods incorporating innovative approaches to a blending of sensory attributes will likely win the consumers’ dollar. Scientific studies show that people shown a picture of a high-calorie food, such as pizza or pastry before experiencing an unfamiliar taste will find that taste more enjoyable than if they were shown a picture of a low-calorie food, such as watermelon or green beans. Thus, the appearance of a food is a critical part of the eating experience. Doug Archer, 352-392-1784, dlarcher@ufl.edu.

Decline of grilling – Grilling has been the go-to way of cooking red meats and poultry, but newly re-kindled concerns about the safety of red meats and meats and poultry cooked in conditions that may char or add smoke may cause consumers to return to recipes that call for baking in the good old oven. A contributor to this trend is the explosion of recipe sharing on social media for mixed meat and vegetable meals prepared easily in the oven. Doug Archer, 352-392-1784, dlarcher@ufl.edu.

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UF research facility to donate fresh produce to needy families during Farm to City Week

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

2015 Cares dinner and farmer recognition at the North Florida Research and Education Center at Live Oak, Florida on Thursday, November 7th.

JAY, Fla. –The University of Florida’s West Florida Research and Education Center will join forces with the Bay Area Food Bank, Waterfront Rescue Mission and the Guy Thompson Community Center to feed 700 local families during National Farm to City Week, Nov. 20 to 26.

Farm to City Week is a national effort to increase the public’s knowledge and appreciation for agriculture. The week of Thanksgiving, meals will be distributed to 400 needy families in Santa Rosa County and 300 families in Escambia County.

“This food will provide these families with a healthy meal this Thanksgiving holiday,” said Wes Wood, center director of the UF/IFAS West Florida REC. “We want to feed these families and teach folks in our community about the economic, environmental and societal benefits of agriculture.”

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UF/IFAS and a Sumter County church are helping locals dig in the dirt

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, Nutrition, Vegetables
More than 40 gardeners currently have plots in the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and United Church of Christ’s Community Garden.

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OXFORD, Fla. — Maureen McCoy has always gardened and enjoys knowing where her food comes from and exactly what is used to grow it. And that’s why she signed up for a plot in the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and United Church of Christ’s Community Garden.

“There are no words for the peace of watering your garden and gathering the bounty you have grown,” said McCoy.

More than 40 gardeners currently have plots in the church’s raised-beds on four acres of land that was once a pasture.  It cost UF/IFAS and the church about $5,000 to build the beds out of pressure-treated 2x6s and 4x4s and install irrigation from the church’s well.  Mulch for pathways was donated by Sumter County.  In addition, leftover soil was donated by Speedling in Bushnell. (more …)

UF/IFAS gives back at Thanksgiving

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For some, Thanksgiving means more than gobbling turkey and watching football. It’s the season of giving thanks and giving back to the community.

Many faculty, staff and students at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences go the extra mile to help others during the holiday.

Here are some examples:

  • The UF Field and Fork Food Pantry opened in August and offers members of the UF community healthy, nutritious food free of charge to anyone with a valid UF ID. In support of the pantry, the J. Wayne Reitz Union will serve as a donation location through Nov. 23. To donate food, go to the Reitz Union’s 1st floor Information Desk near the Career Resource Center. Acceptable donations include non-perishables such as canned vegetables, canned/dried fruits, soups, peanut butter and hot or cold breakfast cereals. All food drive proceeds will benefit both the Field and Fork Food Pantry and the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank. Contact Kevin Florez at KevinF@union.ufl.edu. The pantry is at 564 Newell Drive, just south of the Marston Science Library and behind the McCarty D and Food Science and Human Nutrition buildings on the UF campus in Gainesville.

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UF/IFAS expert gives food-safety tips for Thanksgiving

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


A tomoato being hand-washed in a kitchen sink.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — You’re about to feast, give thanks, watch football and, maybe, take a nap. But as you head into the Thanksgiving holiday, how do you make sure you’re preparing your food properly and, then after dinner, how to you ensure your food stays safe to eat?

Amy Simonne, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences professor of food safety and quality, said although there are few clear-cut answers, she offers some situations and suggestions:

  • If the turkey, stuffing and gravy or other perishable foods are left out at room temperature longer than two hours or for one hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees, the Food Safety Inspection Service of the U.S. Department (USDA/FSIS) recommends you discard them.
  •  After you’ve cooked and served the meal, when turkey, stuffing or gravy are not left between 40 and 140 degrees, you can divide the products into small portions and keep them in the refrigerator for three to four days or in the freezer for two to six months. This recommendation also comes from the USDA/FSIS. For more information, click on: http://1.usa.gov/1uKfrNl.

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Ft. Pierce Farmer’s Market named one of the best in the country

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Vegetables
Ft. Pierce Farmer’s Market named one of the best in the country. UF/IFAS

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FT. PIERCE, Fla. — Nearly 20 years ago, University of Florida Extension Agent and Master Gardener Anita Neal dreamed of a farmer’s market in downtown Ft. Pierce, overlooking the Indian River. She envisioned a place where residents could buy locally grown fruits and vegetables and talk with experts from UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

That market recently was named one of the five best in the nation by American Farmland Trust’s Farmers’ Market Celebration. (more …)

Saving green: UF/IFAS computer program saves nurseries water, plants and money

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Economics, Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, New Technology, Research


Poinsettia. Rapid urban growth in Florida and the Southeast creates a huge demand for a wide range of container-grown ornamental plants and trees for residential and commericial landscapes.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A web-based irrigation system developed by researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences saved 21 percent in water use without reducing growth of container-grown landscape plants, a new study shows.

While UF/IFAS scientists say a Virginia nursery is the only one utilizing the system so far, they hope similar businesses take advantage of the software, so they can reap its benefits in saved water and money. For now, scientists are interested in the irrigation needs of container-grown plants such as anise, gardenias, azaleas, junipers, roses and more.

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Ag and Gardening Day set for UF Homecoming on Nov. 7

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, Research

University of Florida Stadium. UF/IFAS photo: Marisol Amador

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — This year, anyone involved in gardening or agriculture and gardening-related industries and education can “come home” to Gainesville as the University of Florida introduces Agriculture and Gardening Day for Homecoming weekend.

UF Athletics and UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are hosting the event that revolves around the game between the Gators and the Vanderbilt Commodores, which kicks off at noon, Nov. 7.

“Florida’s agricultural, gardening and related food industries add $140 billion to our economy and employ nearly 300,000 people,” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “The industry is second only to tourism in Florida, and this is a great way to honor and recognize those who work so hard to put food on our tables and plants and flowers in our yards. We welcome back to Gainesville those who make agriculture and gardening part of their daily lives, and we look forward to their camaraderie.”

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