IFAS News

University of Florida

Youth potato project plants seeds of STEM careers

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

Please see caption below story.

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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Renowned plant scientist to explore relationship between plants, health for 2017 York Lecture

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Can crops be fortified to improve diets and lower the rate of chronic diseases? Cathie Martin, a world-renowned expert on plant metabolic engineering, will discuss that question at the 2017 E.T. York Lecture.

The free event will be held at 2 p.m., Thursday, April 13 in the University of Florida Emerson Alumni Hall. The UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is hosting the lecture.

Martin is a group leader at the John Innes Centre in the United Kingdom, the leading plant research institute in Europe. Also, Martin is a professor at the University of East Anglia where she researches the relationship between diet and health, and how crops can be fortified to improve diets and address the problem of escalating chronic illnesses. Her work links leading clinical and epidemiological researchers with plant breeders and metabolic engineers.

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UF/IFAS to host farmer’s market food safety workshop on April 10

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Farmer’s markets have been growing in popularity over the past decade, as consumers discover the benefits of buying farm-fresh food from local growers. However, increasing popularity has also raised food safety concerns for produce sold at farmer’s markets.

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is hosting a one-day workshop from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday, April 10. The workshop will be held at the Power Plant Business Incubator, 2nd floor training room, 405 SE Osceola Ave., Ocala, Florida 34471.

Assistant professor Soo Ahn, in the food science and human nutrition department, and other UF/IFAS faculty will host classes on what matters most to consumers, food safety issues, safety guidelines for growers and vendors, and how to ensure products are in compliance.

Cost of attendance is $40 through March 31 for early registration; $50 starting April 1. Click here to register online. For more information, contact Soo Ahn at sahn82@ufl.edu or 352-294-3909.

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

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

UF/IFAS experts to stress environment, immigration, production at ag policy conference

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Economics, Environment, Extension, Food Safety, IFAS, RECs, Research

Spiro Stefanou

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences economists and other experts will explore economic insights helpful for making informed business and policy decisions at the second annual Florida Agricultural Policy Outlook Conference, organized by the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department.

This year’s topics include the innovation economy, food and nutrition policy, agricultural labor, water quality and management and agricultural production policy and trade.

The conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, 14625 County Road 672, Balm, Florida.

“Agriculture is a vital industry for Florida with interesting opportunities and compelling challenges as we move into the future,” said Spiro Stefanou, chair of the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department. “Our goal is to bring industry experts, researchers, policy and business leaders together to discuss the current and emerging challenges related to Florida as an engine of innovation, policy related to food, nutrition and consumer decision making, water quality and management, agricultural labor and the prospects for our fruit and vegetable industry.”

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2016’s Top 10 UF/IFAS Extension publications cover snakes, avocados, vegetable gardening, more

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Invasive Species, Lawn & Garden, Pests

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Vegetable gardening, bahia grass, living with snakes and identifying poisonous plants. These are the topics for some of the top University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension documents from 2016. Here’s this year’s list of the top 10 publications from the UF/IFAS Electronic Data Information Source:

  1. Vegetable gardening offers fresh air, sunshine, exercise, enjoyment, mental therapy, nutritious, fresh vegetables and economic savings, as well as many other benefits: http://bit.ly/2hgLzbV. (124,723 visits)
  2. In the U.S., people kill thousands of snakes each year, yet only five or six people die of venomous snake bites. In order for snakes and people to safely coexist, it is important that Floridians learn to identify, understand and respect snakes: http://bit.ly/2h66sDM. (91,417)
  3. Living with snakes in Florida: About 50 species of snakes live along the Atlantic and Gulf coastal states. An EDIS document, http://bit.ly/2hgK7Xf, teaches you how to identify black snakes.  (89,724)
  4. Here’s everything you need to know about common diseases that afflict poultry: http://bit.ly/2ganzHn. (84,556)
  5. Before you go for a walk, it helps to know if there are poisonous plants along your path. Find out how to identify them: http://bit.ly/2hgJGvJ. (72,245)
  6. How do producers make sure food-handling and processing equipment stays clean? A UF/IFAS expert shows you: http://bit.ly/2hitCpe.
  7. St. Augustine grass is dense and well-adapted to Florida soils, but you’ve got to make sure you water it, according to this EDIS document, http://bit.ly/2gZIYQb. (47,072)
  8. We live with alligators here in Florida. So what do we do about it? Find out here: http://bit.ly/2hdKwpe (45,686)
  9. Bahia grass prefers acidic soil and has relatively few insect and disease problems. Find out more here: http://bit.ly/2gOaaUy. (42,178)
  10. Learn more about growing avocados in your backyard in Florida from UF/IFAS experts in this EDIS document: http://bit.ly/2m3zRU. (36,064)

EDIS, a free service of UF/IFAS Extension, provides information on topics relevant to you: profitable and sustainable agriculture, the environment and natural resources, 4-H and other youth programs, Florida-friendly landscapes, communities that are vibrant and prosperous, economic well-being and quality of life for people and families. UF/IFAS Extension faculty statewide write the documents for EDIS.

“EDIS is a longstanding public-service tradition of UF/IFAS Extension in which we use an electronic system to disseminate top-notch, science-based research to our many stakeholders,” said Nick Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension. “We hope people continue to go to the website and read this critical information that provides solutions for their lives.”

That website is www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

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Caption: Vegetable gardening, bahia grass, living with snakes and identifying poisonous plants. Those are among the 10 most popular UF/IFAS Extension publications for 2016.

Credit: UF/IFAS file.

By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Extension agent: Baking blunders to avoid this holiday

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The way people get cooking advice has changed a lot over the years, due in no small part to the Internet, said Heidi Copeland, family and consumer sciences agent with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Leon County.

“Before the Internet, people often took to calling their local Extension office for culinary advice, especially during the frenzy of holiday cooking,” Copeland said. “Fortunately, people still come to family and consumer sciences agents like myself to get answers to their culinary questions.”

“Folks are frequently concerned about baking,” Copeland said. “Many often wonder why their product isn’t turning out.”

Copeland has these tips for avoiding common baking blunders:

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UF/IFAS tips for safe holiday meal preparation

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

A tomoato being hand-washed in a kitchen sink.

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With the holidays approaching, you want the turkey and stuffing – or whatever you’re preparing – to be safe to eat, and consume again as leftovers. To help you, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences food expert gives tips to make your culinary delights safe.

Amy Simonne, a professor in family, youth and community sciences at UF/IFAS and a nationally recognized food safety expert, says you should keep in mind many food-safety tips, including the following:

  • The safe internal temperature for turkey and other poultry is 165°.
  • Cook stuffing and turkey separately.
  • Understand that while you may get cooking advice from television, you should research multiple sources for these tips to ensure you get all the accurate information you need.
  • Avoid eating raw dough.Simonne also advises against washing any raw meat or turkey. “It is not recommended because it causes more contamination in your kitchen,” she said. “Minimize handling those products in the kitchen before cooking.”

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‘Dine In’ with family, friends and co-workers on Dec. 3

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

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Between work, school and afterschool activities, finding time for a homemade meal can be a challenge for many families. But mealtime is more than just a chance to hear about one another’s day. According to University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences experts, sharing food around the dinner table also helps us feel more connected, make healthier choices and save money along the way.

UF/IFAS Extension is encouraging families, friends and coworkers to experience the benefits of “dining in” by share a meal together on Dec. 3 for National Dine In Day, an initiative started three years ago by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS).

“Family and consumer sciences is all about helping people live more healthful lives through the relationships we nurture, the food we eat, and the money we spend and save,” said Michael Gutter, associate dean for UF/IFAS Extension and 4-H youth development, families and communities program leader. “The family meal is at the center of all of these choices.”

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UF/IFAS study: Food safety knowledge – or lack thereof — passed from one generation to next

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

A tomoato being hand-washed in a kitchen sink.

Please see caption at end of story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Most people learn how to cook and safely handle food from their parents. Then they pass along their food knowledge and behaviors – right or wrong – from generation to generation. This cycle may prevent young people from learning all they can about food safety, a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study shows.

But the UF/IFAS researcher leading the study says the findings present teachable moments. Joy Rumble and her research colleagues suggest more interactive and online instruction in food safety procedures, supplemented by social media outreach.

The real issue, as Rumble found in her newly published study, is that few Floridians bother to find out the safest ways to prevent food-borne illnesses.

And it’s not that they don’t care, said Rumble, an assistant professor in agricultural education and communication. “They’ve just never had a reason to care. They don’t know they are doing something wrong, or they’ve never knowingly gotten sick from something they made.”

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UF/IFAS professor receives USDA grant to help small food businesses

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Departments, Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Uncategorized
Soohyoun Ahn. Assistant Professor. Food Science and Human Nutrition.

Soohyoun Ahn. Assistant Professor. Food Science and Human Nutrition.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences professor has been awarded part of a $4.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to continue her food safety outreach programs.

The grant, through the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), will be used for safety education, training and technical assistance projects for producers who are impacted by the new food safety guidelines established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Food Safety Modernization Act. The grants, made available through NIFA’s Food Safety Outreach Program, will assist owners and operators of small to mid-sized farms, beginning farmers, socially-disadvantaged farmers, small processors, small fresh fruit and vegetable wholesalers, food hubs, farmers markets and others.

“Providing food safety training for small farm owners and food processors is critically important to the health of consumers,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “Outreach, training and technical support are essential to the successful implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act.”

Soohyoun Ahn, an assistant professor in food safety in the UF/IFAS food science and nutrition department, will receive $163,284 to continue her programs that help Floridians enter the food business. Ahn, who also has a UF/IFAS Extension appointment, is leading the food entrepreneurship extension program as the coordinator, and has delivered food safety education throughout the state to those who want to sell products at farmers markets, or who want to open their own food businesses in Florida.

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