University of Florida

“Dine In” with your colleagues, family and friends on Dec. 3

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

Family Eating An Al Fresco Meal

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Dig in! Dec. 3 marks the second annual day for “Dining In” for Healthy Families across the United States, and UF/IFAS Extension faculty are encouraging everyone to enjoy a nutritious meal with those close to them, which also enhances communication.

Eating together at home as a family shows many benefits, as documented in scientific research. The American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) has chosen to focus of families dining-in— no matter the size of a family.

The Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences is planning a lunch for Dec. 3 in its conference room on campus, and faculty and staff encourage all campus units, county Extension offices and UF/IFAS research and education centers to do the same, as well as dining with their families that evening, said Linda Bobroff, a UF/IFAS nutrition and health professor.

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Students help UF/IFAS professor breed better, tastier peppers

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, Crops, IFAS, Nutrition, Research


Horticulture Professor Balasubramanian Rathinasabapathi (Saba). Experiments, beaker, laboratory.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences students are learning how to breed better peppers under the guidance of Professor Bala Rathinasabapathi.

And by “better,” we mean a more savory taste, among other characteristics. Florida produces $207 million worth of bell peppers annually, according to the Florida Department Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). In fact, as of 2012, Florida ranked second nationally in the value of bell peppers. Improving traits may help the Florida pepper industry grow even larger.

Now, for a new study published in the Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, Rathinasabapathi and his team cross-bred two heirloom varieties of peppers – the Bulgarian Carrot and the Round of Hungary — to come up with more desirable consumer traits.

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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 and a Sumter County church are helping locals dig in the dirt

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, Nutrition, Vegetables
More than 40 gardeners currently have plots in the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and United Church of Christ’s Community Garden.

see caption below

OXFORD, Fla. — Maureen McCoy has always gardened and enjoys knowing where her food comes from and exactly what is used to grow it. And that’s why she signed up for a plot in the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and United Church of Christ’s Community Garden.

“There are no words for the peace of watering your garden and gathering the bounty you have grown,” said McCoy.

More than 40 gardeners currently have plots in the church’s raised-beds on four acres of land that was once a pasture.  It cost UF/IFAS and the church about $5,000 to build the beds out of pressure-treated 2x6s and 4x4s and install irrigation from the church’s well.  Mulch for pathways was donated by Sumter County.  In addition, leftover soil was donated by Speedling in Bushnell. (more …)

UF/IFAS gives back at Thanksgiving

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For some, Thanksgiving means more than gobbling turkey and watching football. It’s the season of giving thanks and giving back to the community.

Many faculty, staff and students at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences go the extra mile to help others during the holiday.

Here are some examples:

  • The UF Field and Fork Food Pantry opened in August and offers members of the UF community healthy, nutritious food free of charge to anyone with a valid UF ID. In support of the pantry, the J. Wayne Reitz Union will serve as a donation location through Nov. 23. To donate food, go to the Reitz Union’s 1st floor Information Desk near the Career Resource Center. Acceptable donations include non-perishables such as canned vegetables, canned/dried fruits, soups, peanut butter and hot or cold breakfast cereals. All food drive proceeds will benefit both the Field and Fork Food Pantry and the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank. Contact Kevin Florez at KevinF@union.ufl.edu. The pantry is at 564 Newell Drive, just south of the Marston Science Library and behind the McCarty D and Food Science and Human Nutrition buildings on the UF campus in Gainesville.

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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.

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Sumter County Extension helps implement SNAP/EBT at farmer’s market, spreads the word

Topic(s): Agriculture, Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition
Buying and selling at an outdoor farmers' market

Buying and selling at an outdoor farmers’ market

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Making it easier for residents to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and increase Florida farmer’s profits is the win-win result of a partnership between the University of Florida/IFAS Extension Sumter County Office and the Sumter County Farmer’s Market.

The team launched a successful campaign to accept SNAP/EBT, also known as food stamps, which allows SNAP recipients to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the Sumter County Farmer’s Market.

The program has been successful for shoppers and vendors, said Martha Maddox, Sumter County, Family and Consumer Science Agent.  “Residents have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, along with healthier food choices,” she said.  “While at the same time we are promoting buying local produce and increasing the farmers’ revenue.  It’s a great program all the way around for everyone involved.”

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Pioneering UF/IFAS cattle scientist recognized at World Dairy Expo

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Livestock, Nutrition

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida emeritus graduate research professor in the Department of Animal Sciences was recognized last week at the 2015 World Dairy Expo for his decades of work in cattle reproduction.

Virtus Nutrition honored several researchers, including William Thatcher, as the company launched the Fatty Acid Forum Legacy Series at the expo in Madison, Wisconsin. Virtus showcased the significance of dairy research and the scientists who pioneered numerous dairy cattle nutrition breakthroughs. Some of the scientists’ findings serve as resources for nutritionists and producers now and for future generations.

Thatcher, an active emeritus UF/IFAS faculty member, is considered one of the world’s leading experts in animal reproduction. He played a key role in establishing links between the intake of fatty acids by dairy cows and their effects on improving reproduction.

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Peaches more marketable to younger people, but everyone wants the fruit to melt in their mouth

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


Peaches attached to a peach tree. Fruit, stonefruit, horticulture. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Young consumers are more likely to buy peaches than older people, and those 18- to 24-year-olds prefer crisp, firm peaches with good flavor, a new University of Florida study shows.

In fact, people aged 51 to 68 are the least interested in buying peaches. Those of that age who do buy peaches prefer sweet, melting-texture peaches. Although they did not study the reason older people don’t like peaches as much, UF/IFAS scientists think older consumers may have repeatedly bought poor-quality peaches in the past, triggering an interest in other fruits.

“It was refreshing to see young consumers being interested in purchasing fruit and peaches in particular,” said Mercy Olmstead, assistant professor in horticultural sciences and lead author of the study. “Most of the breeding efforts here at UF have been directed toward peaches with non-melting, firmer texture, so having the younger generation prefer crisp, firm peaches was exciting.”

Overall, consumers want sweet, tasty peaches that melt in your mouth, she said.

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