IFAS News

University of Florida

As UF/IFAS CREC turns 100, it celebrates decades working with Florida Department of Citrus

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Crops, Cultivars, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, RECs, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Citrus Research and Education Center celebrates its 100th anniversary, administrators are praising a decades-long relationship between researchers with CREC and the Florida Department of Citrus in bringing healthy, nutritious fruit and juice to your home.

“Housing the FDOC and CREC scientists at the same location has brought together the expertise needed to address any issue facing the Florida citrus industry, from the field to the grocery store shelf, and everywhere in between,” said Michael Rogers, director of the Citrus REC. “We’ve had a long and productive history working together to support the Florida citrus industry and continue to do so, as we are both working together to develop solutions for citrus greening disease.”

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UF brings families together for annual Bug Week Scavenger Hunt on May 20

Topic(s): Announcements, Biocontrols, Entomology and Nematology, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pests

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Local families will get to have fun and learn about crawly critters during the annual UF/IFAS Bug Week Scavenger Hunt set for 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, May 20. The event will be held at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Admission is free, and all children will receive souvenirs. The first, second and third place winners will receive special prizes.

“This year, our goal is to help families learn about invasive species and how they affect the environment and economy,” said Beverly James, UF/IFAS director of public relations. “The Bug Week website features lots of information on invasive species and how, sometimes, other insects are used to control them. So, not only will families learn about insects, but they will also have the opportunity to spend time together in a fun activity.”

During the scavenger hunt, participants will be given five clues that lead them to displays where an insect, spider or other arthropod appears. Each clue comes with a question that can only be answered by visiting the display.

In addition, the UF/IFAS department of entomology and nematology will present a Bug Zoo. The zoo features insects in glass enclosures, and children will have the opportunity to hold them and learn about them.

Bug Week is the University of Florida’s annual celebration of its entomology program, one of the largest and best in the nation. For more information on Bug Week, visit http://bugs.ufl.edu.

Don’t forget – if you are talking about Bug Week on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, use the official #UFBugs hashtag!

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CAPTION:Children and adults participate in the 2016 UF/IFAS Bug Week petting zoo and scavenger hunt at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, beverlymjames@ufl.edu

 

UF/IFAS expert: For Earth Day, save energy with small steps

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS

 

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And click here for video: http://bit.ly/2pCX6n3

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Sometimes, Wendell Porter gets a kick out of watching customers pick up LED lights in a store, look at them and put them back – again and again.

People don’t buy the lights because they’re afraid they’ll make a mistake, said Porter, senior lecturer in the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences department of agricultural and biological engineering.

His suggestion for Earth Day and year-round environmental and cost-savings?

“Make that first step; actually make a decision,” he said. “It’s that first step. Customers looking at LED lights don’t want to make a mistake. Well, what if you do? What if it’s the wrong color temperature, and it’s a brighter white than you wanted, and you wanted a warm color? Then the next time you read the label a little more carefully. And you think, ‘I wasted that $3.’ No you didn’t. Put it in the back closet.”

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Youth potato project plants seeds of STEM careers

Topic(s): 4-H, Agriculture, Crops, Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When the Flagler County 4-H members started growing their own potato plants at home, they were a little worried at first.

“They would come to me and say, ‘I don’t see any potatoes on my plant. What’s wrong?’” said Amy Hedstrom, a Flagler County 4-H youth development agent with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension.

“That was the day they learned potatoes grew in the ground, not above-ground,” Hedstrom said. ‘“Aha” moments like these really open their eyes to the science behind the food we eat.”

These youth are part of the Tri-County 4-H Potato Project created in 2015 by the UF/IFAS Extension 4-H programs in Flagler, Putnam and St. Johns counties. In addition to growing their own potatoes, youth also participate in planting and harvest field days at the UF/IFAS Hastings Agricultural Extension Center facility on Cowpen Branch Road.

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Consumers will normally pay more for organic products – but not wine

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — You swish around a sip of organic wine in your mouth and it might tempt your taste buds, but that doesn’t mean you’ll pay more for it, a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study shows.

For the study, former UF/IFAS graduate student Lane Abraben, used an economic model to determine if consumers are willing to pay more for organic wine. Abraben specifically examined wine consumed from the Tuscany region of Italy. But his adviser, Kelly Grogan, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of food and resource economics, said the research findings likely apply to any organically produced wine.

For many products, organic production costs more than conventional production; thus, to make organic products more viable, consumers must be willing to pay more, Grogan said.

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UF/IFAS scientists find Zika RNA in a second mosquito species

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences molecular biologist has found Zika RNA in a type of mosquito not often associated with the virus.

UF/IFAS entomology associate professor Chelsea Smartt led a research team that found Zika RNA in Aedes albopictus. That’s not the species — known as Aedes aegypti — most often associated with Zika. But scientists have never discounted Aedes albopictus as another possible carrier of the potentially deadly virus.

Brazil has the highest number of reported Zika virus cases worldwide, with more than 200,000 as of December 2016. So, Smartt set her sights on tracking down Zika-infected mosquitoes in Camacari, Brazil, near the Atlantic coast.

Smartt and her research team collected 20 female and 19 male Aedes albopictus mosquitoes as eggs, raised them to adults and tested the adults for the Zika virus RNA. They found five of them positive for Zika RNA, Smartt said.

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Delectable delights highlight Flavors of Florida

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Aquaculture, Citrus, Crops, Cultivars, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Plants, Research, Vegetables

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — UF/IFAS scientists toil for years creating and enhancing many of the foods we consume and plants we enjoy. When it comes to plant breeding, UF/IFAS is a global leader. In fact, UF/IFAS is ranked as a top-10 horticulture program in the 2017 Center for World University Rankings.

Many of UF/IFAS’ tastiest creations will be available for consumption or on display at this year’s Flavors of Florida event.

Scheduled for April 24 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the University House, 2151 W. University Ave., Gainesville, Florida, the event offers guests an opportunity to sample foods containing UF/IFAS-developed ingredients prepared by local celebrity chefs. This year’s sample dishes will include citrus, tomatoes, meats, strawberries, blueberries and olive oil to tempt the taste buds. Additionally, non-edible plants, such as a relatively new cultivar of Mexican petunia, also will be showcased.

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Is coconut oil good for you? UF/IFAS experts weigh in

Topic(s): Families and Consumers, Nutrition

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Google “coconut oil” and you’ll find article after article claiming numerous health benefits. However, consumers looking for heart-healthy foods would do better to look elsewhere, say nutrition experts with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“Coconut oil is high in saturated fat, which, along with trans fat, is linked to heart disease,” said Gail Kauwell, professor of food science and human nutrition. “If you’re following a healthy diet, no more than six percent of your calories should be coming from saturated fat.”

Coconut oil has long been known to have high levels of saturated fat. But in recent years, some have made the case that because of its molecular structure, the particular kind of saturated fat in coconut oil may actually support cardiovascular health.

“Chemically speaking, fats are made of chains of carbon molecules, and these molecules are categorized as short-, medium- or long-chain triglycerides,” said Wendy Gans, a student in UF’s Master of Science – Dietetic Internship Program.

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Nutrients are nice, but produce better pass the taste test

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

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Consumers want produce that tickles their taste buds and is easy on the eye, but they think quality fruits and vegetables are a matter of luck, according to University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers.

The fact that consumers purchase produce to satisfy their senses – not necessarily for its nutrients — should prove particularly important for growers and grocers to understand, UF/IFAS researchers say.

“They choose based on aroma and appearance,” said Amy Simonne, a professor in the UF/IFAS family, youth and community sciences department and lead author of this research. “Consumers might want to change the way they choose fruit.”

Jeff Brecht, a UF/IFAS professor of horticultural sciences and a study co-author, said the appearance of produce does not always correlate well with its flavor or aroma.

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Honor Earth Day by cutting food waste, UF/IFAS expert says

Topic(s): Environment, Families and Consumers, Green Living

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — This Earth Day — April 22 — you don’t have to leave your kitchen to start living more sustainably, says an expert with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension.

Consumers can help the environment by taking a closer look at the food they throw away, said Heidi Copeland, family and consumer sciences agent with UF/IFAS Extension Leon County.

“A surprising amount of food produced in the United States — between 30 to 40 percent — goes uneaten. It takes energy, water and farmland to grow, transport and store food, so wasted food translates into wasted natural resources,” Copeland said.

For consumers, wasted food also means wasted dollars, Copeland said.

According to a survey by the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education, 60 percent of Floridians are concerned or extremely concerned about food waste in their home, with fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products being the most common type of wasted food.

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