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IFAS News

University of Florida

A banner year for UF/IFAS in 2014

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Uncategorized
The University of Florida's historic College of Agriculture building.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida hired a new, land-grant-oriented president, brought on board preeminent faculty, celebrated Extension’s centennial, opened new facilities and made strides in fighting citrus greening.

Those actions top a brief list of accomplishments for UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in 2014. Here are 10 achievements by UF/IFAS faculty, staff Extension agents and students: (more …)

University of Florida experts predict food trends for 2015

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For the second year, University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty members predict the food-related trends that could end up on your dinner plates and grocery store shelves in 2015:

Wow, that’s … pungent: Americans continue to develop a fondness for fermented foods, which often create strong, unique flavors in such products as kimchi, sauerkraut, beer, wine and yogurt.  Besides being fun to eat, such foods are said to be good for digestive health. Doug Archer, dlarcher@ufl.edu, 352-392-1784, 352-392-5507.

Cheetos have left the (school) building:  School foods will continue to become healthier, thanks to Smart Snacks in School standards that took effect earlier this school year. For instance, a pack of cookies might be replaced by light popcorn; a vending machine chocolate bar by a small serving of peanuts. Karla Shelnutt, kpagan@ufl.edu, 352-273-3535.

(more …)

Tracking the eyes: The keys to consumers’ plant preferences

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

eye-tracking and plant purchases photo 121614

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Picture this: Researchers ask you to sit and gaze at plants from a retail store’s garden display. You look at a computer screen, which tracks how long your eyes take to focus on a visual cue and how long you fixate on it.

Those cues can include what the plant looks like, a price tag or how it was grown.

With results of a new national study, researchers now know that computer software allows researchers to link eye movements to the plants people buy, a finding that can tell retailers more about how to use signs to lure potential buyers. Those are important issues for retailers and consumers nationally, but particularly in Florida, where the environmental horticulture industry generates about $12 billion a year, according to University of Florida estimates.

Hayk Khachatryan, a UF assistant professor in food and resource economics, helped conduct the study. Researchers wanted to understand how visual behavior could influence purchasing choices. They studied consumers’ choices as project participants viewed signs showing several plant attributes. For example, the plants might have been grown using water-saving or energy-saving techniques.

“Investigating the link between consumers’ visual behavior and their preferences can significantly improve our understanding of the effects of marketing practices that use visual cues to attract more consumers,” said Khachatryan, who’s based at the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, which is part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

(more …)

Survey shows Floridians have concerns about food safety, GMOs

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, IFAS, Nutrition, Safety

Graphics available by emailing bradbuck@ufl.edu

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While Floridians believe they do a fairly good job of keeping themselves safe from foodborne illnesses, they aren’t always clear about which foods, preparation techniques or cooking methods pose the biggest risks.

But they may be a bit overconfident.

A survey released by the University of Florida’s Public Issues in Education, PIE Center today shows that the state’s residents have many concerns about food safety and genetically modified foods but want to know more.

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Volusia 4-H members tour Kennedy Space Center with USDA official

Topic(s): 4-H, IFAS

4-H at KSC 120514 (a)

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Five Volusia County 4-H youth spent the kind of day most children only dream about ─ touring the Kennedy Space Center and hoping to watch the launch of the Orion Spacecraft test flight.

The launch was delayed, but 4-H members Kaitlyn Jackson, 13; Jonathan Murdock, 13; AJ Seifert, 12; Joshua Lacey, 12, and Olivia Hall, 12, met with U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden, a 4-H alumna from Georgia. Harden saw the Dec. 4 tour as a chance to connect with children in 4-H, which works very closely with USDA on youth engagement in agriculture.

“Youth programs like 4-H are key to getting children excited about the possibility of agriculture as a career,” Harden said. “NASA and USDA have complementary goals. It was great to see these 4-Hers learn more about NASA and how the space agency’s work connects agriculture and technology.”

Florida 4-H is a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences program and works with USDA.

(more …)

UF/IFAS researchers build searchable database of non-native plants

Topic(s): Agriculture, Environment, Families and Consumers, Florida Friendly, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, New Technology, Uncategorized
The air potato vine is an  invasive species prohibited by the state

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Ever wonder what that plant is in your yard that seems to be taking over? The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has a new website designed to help you figure it out.

Researchers with UF/IFAS’ Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants spent more than a year developing a searchable website and database to help Floridians assess problem— or just plain puzzling —non-native plants. (more …)

‘Nudges’ try to help college students live healthier

Topic(s): Families and Consumers, Nutrition

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Internet lessons and “tailored” text alerts can help some young people adopt healthier lifestyles, according to a national study aimed at preventing weight gain.

Although experimental group students didn’t gain or lose more weight than their control group counterparts, researchers remain hopeful the Internet-message approach can work because it helped college students progress from what researchers call the “contemplative stage” to the “action stage.”

An example of the contemplative stage would be someone who’s thinking about trying to eat fatty foods less frequently, but hasn’t taken action to do so, while someone at the action stage would choose to eat a salad, instead.

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Three UF/IFAS Extension agents earn national recognition

Topic(s): Announcements, Extension, Families and Consumers, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

Mary Keith award1Betsy extension award

Extension awards Adrian Hunsberger1

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Three veteran University of Florida Extension agents have earned national recognition for outstanding leadership, diversity and international service.

Epsilon Sigma Phi, a national honorary fraternity that encourages professional development for the nation’s Extension agents, recognized Mary Keith, Mary E. “Betsy” Crisp and Adrian Hunsberger at its annual conference in Indianapolis in October.

Keith, Crisp and Hunsberger have worked for UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, collectively, for about 50 years.

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UF/IFAS teen anti-substance abuse program proves successful

Topic(s): 4-H, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS

Kate Fogarty.  Family, Youth and Community Sciences. Muthusami Kumaran.  Family, Youth, and Community Sciences.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A University of Florida program aimed at helping young people avoid alcohol and illegal drugs works well, new research shows.

Health Rocks!, an Extension curriculum facilitated by the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Florida 4-H Youth Development Program, teaches middle school students life skills.

UF/IFAS Extension agents, faculty and the National 4-H Council teach Health Rocks! Many times, the professionals train schoolteachers and volunteers, who teach middle school students the curriculum.

The study’s results show the Florida curriculum helps to increase young people’s knowledge and to change their attitudes about drug use and may help them avoid illegal substances, said Kate Fogarty, an associate professor in UF/IFAS’ family, youth and community sciences and a study co-author.

(more …)

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