IFAS News

University of Florida

Mother-daughter team teaches the art of canning food

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition, Vegetables
UF/IFAS Extension Agents Melanie Thomas, left, and her mother, Jackie Schrader teaching canning classes in Duval and Clay counties. Photo courtesy Melanie Thomas

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As a little girl, Melanie Thomas would ladle hot fruit into glass jars with  her grandmother or watch from afar as her parents canned fruits and vegetables in the kitchen.

“I was one of those who was afraid of the pressure canner and left that job up to my mom and dad,” said Thomas.  “They always seemed like they knew what they were doing and had it under control.”

Now Thomas is a fearless advocate of preserving your own food.  She and her mother, Jackie Schrader, join forces each month to teach canning classes through a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension program.  Once every month, they gather students in either Duval or Clay County to instruct on everything from pressure canning low acid foods, including vegetables, meats and soups, to adding just the right amount of sugar and spices.

Their next class is scheduled for January 22 at 9:00 a.m. at the Clay County Extension office in Green Cove Springs. The February class is set for the 12th in Duval County. (more …)

UF/IFAS Extension helping students enter the food service workforce

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition
Micaela Howell prepares cake as part of Dunnellon High School's culinary arts program. The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences helps the program by administering a certification exam. Photo by: Dunnellon High School

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Brandi Smith, 17 and a senior in the culinary arts program at Dunnellon High School, dreams of one day being accepted into the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. A program at her high school has set her on that path.

“Culinary arts is the one thing I have always loved doing,” said Smith, who is set to graduate in May.

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension program and Marion County Public Schools is helping Brandi achieve that dream. She is one of about 400 students who, in the last four years, have passed through the food service program at Dunnellon High. As part of that class, Nancy Gal, a UF/IFAS Extension agent in Marion County, prepares students for a rigorous certification exam. (more …)

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/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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UF receives $1.2 million NIFA grant to spread the word on new national food safety standards

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida will help lead the charge in educating stakeholders on the sweeping changes being made to national food safety regulations with a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

The grant will help establish the Southern Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance Center to Enhance Produce Safety at UF, lead by the team of Michelle Danyluk, Renee Goodrich Schneider, and Keith Schneider in the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department; Amy Harder in the Agricultural Education and Communication Department; and Danielle Treadwell in the Horticultural Sciences Department.

NIFA recently announced more than $2 million in grants to establish two regional centers supporting comprehensive food safety training and education, pursuant to the rules of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) being released this fall. These centers will play a leading role in coordinating and implementing FSMA-related training, education, and outreach programs for small and medium-sized farms, beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, small processors, and/or small fresh fruit and vegetable merchant wholesalers.

(more …)

UF/IFAS holding workshop for farmers’ market managers and vendors

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

Buying and selling at an outdoor farmers' market

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Farmers markets have been growing in popularity throughout the last decade as consumers discover the benefits of buying farm-fresh food directly from small-scale, local growers.  However, increasing popularity has also raised food safety concerns for produce sold at those markets.

On Monday, November 9th, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is hosting a food safety and market-growth seminar for farmers’ market managers and vendors, to help insure quality produce is sold and managers know how to expand their business. It is scheduled for 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Straughn IFAS Extension Professional Development Center in Gainesville.  (more …)

UF/IFAS researchers seek ways to keep pathogens, pests from traveling with grain

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Environment, Families and Consumers, Finances, Food Safety, IFAS, Pests, Research

Beef cattle grazing in front of a grain silo at the Range Cattle REC in Ona, Florida.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member says new research can help grain handlers and grain inspectors find key locations for pathogens and pests along rail routes in the United States and Australia.

In a new analysis in the journal BioScience, UF/IFAS researchers evaluated how wheat moved along rail networks in the United States and Australia. Through their analysis, researchers identified U.S. states that are particularly important for sampling and managing insect and fungal problems as they move through the networks, said Karen Garrett, a UF/IFAS plant pathology professor and senior author of the study.

“The movement of pests and pathogens can be especially important when there are quarantines against the movement of particular species, or when pesticide-resistant insects invade new areas and make management more difficult,” said Garrett, who began work earlier this year in the UF/IFAS Institute for Sustainable Food Systems (ISFS).

“This innovative research to understand how effectively the world’s food networks function and how they can be improved addresses one of our core missions for ISFS,” said Jim Anderson, professor of food and resource economics at UF/IFAS, director of the ISFS. “This work can have real impact.”

(more …)

Florida Sea Grant offers seafood information in new Florida Trend report

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Aquaculture, Economics, Environment, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS
Grouper and assorted seafood fillets on display at a store in case. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

Grouper and assorted seafood fillets on display at a store in case. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — October is National Seafood Month, and Florida Sea Grant has spotlighted the safety and variety of the state’s seafood products with a special report published in the September issue of Florida Trend magazine.

Although the average Floridian’s seafood consumption is twice the national average  – 31 pounds per year, compared with 15 – a recent Florida Sea Grant survey indicates that 40 percent of state residents don’t eat two servings each week, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“With this special report, we hope to raise awareness of our state’s seafood production and the fact that seafood is a healthy, delicious dining option,” said Karl Havens, Florida Sea Grant director and a professor with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, or UF/IFAS. “We’re very fortunate in Florida to have access to a wide range of local seafood items as well as products sourced elsewhere.”

Florida is the nation’s seventh-largest seafood producing state, offering about 80 wild-caught and farm-raised items, he said. Some of the state’s best-known seafood products include grouper, snapper, oysters, spiny lobster and stone crab. (more …)

UF Field and Fork Pantry dedicated; facility will feed campus community members in need

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Field to Fork Pantry grand opening ceremony on September 1st, 2015.

Click on image for high-res version. Photo cutline below.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Vowing that hunger should never be a barrier to education, University of Florida officials dedicated the campus’ newest enterprise addressing hunger within the UF community, the Field and Fork Pantry, with a ceremony Sept. 1 that was light-hearted and celebratory yet charged with a sense of urgency and purpose.

“It doesn’t get any better than this, this is a special morning,” President Kent Fuchs said as he addressed the audience of about 150 gathered under a large tent next to the food pantry, located by the Food Science and Human Nutrition building on the central UF campus. “With (the organizers’ shared desire to help the needy) and with your remarkable spirit of optimism and action, I feel that there’s no limit to what we can create together for our campus, our community, our country and, indeed, actually, for the planet.”

The 40-minute event occurred almost four months to the day after the facility’s groundbreaking May 5, and followed a year-long effort by several campus units to establish a campuswide food pantry for students and employees, Fuchs said.

The president credited the project’s success to enthusiastic cooperation among participants that included the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the Dean of Students Office, the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of the Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, UF Student Government, the College of Engineering, the Office for Student Financial Affairs, Gator Dining Services and Aramark, the UF International Center, members of the University-Wide Pantry Planning Committee, and members of the food pantry’s parent organization, the Field and Fork Campus Food Program. The Bread of the Mighty Food Bank was a significant community partner as well, Fuchs noted.

Next to speak was Jack Payne, UF’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources and the top administrator for UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, or UF/IFAS, which provides programmatic and financial support for the project. Payne related how he’d become aware two years ago that food pantries had been established at other universities, and was spurred to request an exploratory survey on hunger at UF. Researchers found that of 1,800 students responding, 10 percent said they had gone hungry at least once during the previous academic year.

Moved by this revelation, Payne began considering how UF/IFAS could help; he then contacted several key campus units and learned that similar plans were being contemplated or developed by other top administrators. Recognizing their common purpose, everyone agreed to collaborate.

Before concluding his remarks, Payne provided a pleasant surprise, an informal announcement that Alan and Cathy Hitchcock, former owners of the Hitchcock’s supermarket chain, had pledged a leadership gift to help support the $290,000 second phase of construction for the food pantry. The food pantry currently occupies a 900-square-foot building that cost $172,000 to renovate and prepare for use; adjacent space for build-out is available. The Hitchcocks will also provide organizers with valuable advice on supermarket design, to help with expansions.

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