IFAS News

University of Florida

‘Local food opinion leaders’ can help bridge gap between farmers, consumers

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

Buying and selling at an outdoor farmers' market

Please see caption below story.
“GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As consumers increasingly desire local food, opinion leaders can encourage others to eat healthier food and, in doing so, improve the local economy, according to new University of Florida Food and Agricultural Sciences research.

“Opinion leaders” are those who influence others via the respect they earn from those around them, said Alexa Lamm, associate director of the UF Center for Public Issues Education (PIE Center) and the leader of this research.

“Opinion leaders could be critical in bridging the gap between locally grown food and consumers. That’s important because local food sales totaled $6.1 million in 2012, up $1.3 million in four years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But another study showed only 7.8 percent of U.S. farms targeted local consumers.

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UF/IFAS study: Few people know mushrooms’ health benefits

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

 

Variety Mushrooms at the farmers market downtown union street market.

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Relatively few people are aware of the health benefits of mushrooms, according to a new national survey by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers.

Only 18.5 percent of survey respondents said they knew the health benefits of mushrooms, according to the online survey of 674 consumers.

“Potentially, increasing knowledge about health benefits would be useful to the mushroom industry,” said Lisa House, a UF/IFAS professor of food and resource economics and an investigator for the study.

Sue Percival, a UF/IFAS professor and chair of the department of food science and human nutrition and principal investigator for the study, published a study last year that documented how shiitake mushrooms can boost immunity. They’re also low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and they’re the leading source of the antioxidant selenium in the produce aisle, according to the National Mushroom Council.

The study, to be presented at a national conference next week, revealed many other clues about consumers’ mushroom-buying habits.

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UF/IFAS expert offers food safety tips for new school year

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

Kids in a school cafeteria to promote the My Plate and YUM nutrition programs.

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As your child returns to school next month, you can help him or her eat safely at school. You also can count on federal, state and local officials to be trained to make sure your child’s school meals are safe, says a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences food safety researcher.

Amy Simonne, a professor and food safety Extension specialist in family, youth and community sciences at UF/IFAS, gives these school food-safety tips:

Keep cold lunches cold and hot lunches hot. Discard the food after lunch.

  • Keep everything clean: Before you start packing lunches, wash your hands with soap and warm water. “That’s the minimum they can do,” she said.

 

  • Don’t cross-contaminate: Harmful bacteria can spread through the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, utensils and countertops. Always wash cutting board, dishes, utensils and countertops.
  • Pack just the amount of perishable food that can be eaten at lunchtime.Find out more at http://bit.ly/1uw0wUy.

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UF/IFAS Extension to host cottage industry expo for local food entrepreneurs

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

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WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — Have you ever dreamed of selling your own cheese or marketing your grandmother’s jam recipe? Budding entrepreneurs are invited to the first annual Tampa Bay Cottage Industry Expo to hear experts from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and industry professionals present on topics such as food safety, production and marketing.

The expo is set for July 30 at Wiregrass Ranch High School, 2909 Mansfield Boulevard, Wesley Chapel, Florida, and will go from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The goal of the event is to help people tackle the challenges that come with starting a cottage food business, said Whitney Elmore, UF/IFAS Extension Pasco County director. “We want to help people get into the industry while avoiding some of the big mistakes that might be a hindrance to their success,” she said.

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UF/IFAS, Pinellas Sheriff’s office create urban farms in Pinellas County

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

Loften Center students learning about gardening and nutrition on Thursday, May 21st, 2015.

GAINESVILLE, Fla.— Residents in a county on Florida’s Gulf Coast are getting the help they need to access healthier foods via a collaboration between the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and the Pinellas Sheriff’s Police Athletic League. The two entities have teamed up to create an urban farm in Pinellas County.

Urban farms promote an abundance of food for people in need while raising awareness of health and wellness. “It is an opportunity to teach families and children the values of nutrition and establish a level of commerce for produce distribution,” said Mark Trujillo, a public health regional specialist for UF/IFAS Family Nutrition Program.

Trujillo introduced the executive director of the Pinellas Sheriff’s PAL, Neil Brickfield, to an empty U-Pick farm in Lealman, Florida, Pinellas County. After discovering the potential that the farm had to help the county, Brickfield then began to work with UF/IFAS to identify the needs of the farm and community.

Because Lealman, Florida is considered a food desert, the idea of an urban farm was essential for the area, Trujillo said. According to Brickfield, the citizens in Lealman are more than a mile from a local grocery store. “So, the urban farm is an opportunity for people to have fresh produce readily available,” Brickfield said.

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UF survey shows most Floridians want to know more about genetically modified foods

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, New Technology, Nutrition, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While almost half of Floridians acknowledge buying genetically modified foods, a recent survey by the Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Florida reveals that most people want to know much more about those foods.

“The study shows that Floridians believe they don’t know much about genetically modified foods and their benefits,” said Joy Rumble, assistant professor in agricultural education and communication at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “Many people are favorable to supporting research, and they think it’s essential that government support it. Floridians see a place for GM foods, but they do have hesitations.”

The PIE Center surveyed 500 Floridians on their perceptions of genetically modified foods. Respondents were largely unsure about the potential benefits of genetically modified food, with more than 40 percent neither agreeing nor disagreeing that food technology such as GMOs allows people to live longer or better lives.

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Survey: Most Floridians concerned about food waste, safety

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

Displays of fresh vegetables and produce. Photo taken 10-01-15.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Often without much thought, Americans throw out more than one-third of all food grown in the United States each year. However, a majority of Floridians acknowledge food waste is a major concern.

­­­Sixty percent of Floridians agreed or strongly agreed that they are concerned about food waste in their household, according to a recent food waste survey of 500 Florida residents conducted by the Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Florida. The PIE Center is part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

It was also discovered through the survey that fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products most often go to waste. Oppositely, beverages, spices and seafood are the food items that go to waste least.

The survey also captured public perceptions on food safety.

Results from the survey revealed that 42 percent of Floridians feel that food safety is a major concern and 68 percent feel responsible for their own food safety.

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UF/IFAS will host entrepreneur workshop for future Florida business owners on May 13 and 27

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

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

Gainesville, Fla.— Do you have a passion for cooking and want to invest your ideas in a restaurant? The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension offers helpful information at the “How to Start a Food Business in Florida” workshops on May 13 and 27.

Anyone who is interested in running his/her own food business in Florida can attend the one-day workshop at one of the two locations and dates. The May 13 workshop will be held at Straughn UF/IFAS Extension Professional Development Center in Gainesville; the May 27 event will be held at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee, Florida. Both workshops will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“How to Start a Food Business in Florida” workshop will provide participants with general information on food safety and quality, basic food science, business planning, and federal and state regulatory requirements for food businesses.

The registration fee for the course is $125; early bird registration by April 30 is $100. Registration includes course materials, lunch, coffee breaks and certificate of completion. Register by May 6 for the Gainesville workshop at http://tinyurl.com/FoodBusinessGNV, and by May 20 for the Immokalee workshop at http://tinyurl.com/FoodBusinessImmokalee. Classes will be limited to the first 45 registrants for each site.

For more information, contact Dr. Soo Ahn at sahn82@ufl.edu or 352-294-3909.

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By: Brinkley Clark, 954-600-8257, brinkleycclark@ufl.edu

Source: Soo Ahn, 352-294-3909, sahn82@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS expert: Fisheries won’t meet need of exploding population, but aquaculture will

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

 

 

Jim Anderson (2)

James Anderson

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The world’s fisheries are a great source of protein, but even with the best management, they won’t be able to meet the needs of a global population expected to exceed nine billion by 2050, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences resource economics expert said.

Aquaculture must grow, said James Anderson, a UF/IFAS food and resource economics professor.

Aquaculture production is expected increase by more than 60 percent and account for nearly two-thirds of all seafood supplied for human consumption by 2030, said Anderson, who’s also director of the UF/IFAS Institute for Sustainable Food Systems.

Anderson made his remarks at the opening plenary of the Aquaculture 2016 Conference in Las Vegas, Feb. 23.

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