IFAS News

University of Florida

Partners help produce UF/IFAS’ annual ‘Flavors of Florida’ food and drink showcase

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

UF/IFAS Flavors of Florida 2015

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences thanks the many partners who are helping sponsor this year’s Flavors of Florida festivities, an annual event designed to showcase how top-notch science creates delectable, nutritious food and beverages.

Two of those partners for the May 9 event in Gainesville are Straughn Farms, which gave at the platinum level, and Florida Tomatoes, which gave at the gold level.

“The Flavors of Florida features the advances of modern plant breeding that is the foundation of the Tomato Industry,” said Reggie Brown, manager of the Florida Tomato Committee. “The search for the best flavors for Florida Tomatoes is an ongoing effort that provides the opportunity to expand demand. Florida Tomato growers have supported variety improvement for decades. The opportunity to feature the ‘flavor’ simply highlights the advancements of the science of plant genetics. Solutions through applied science is the path to the future of the Florida Tomato grower.”

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UF/IFAS Extension Leon County to host Spring Open House on May 7

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

Who:      The UF/IFAS – Leon County Extension Office to host the 2016 Spring Open House.

What:    The community is invited to learn more about gardening related topics, including tree ID, invasive plant ID, the Florida-Friendly Yards program, composting and vermicomposting (worms!), and providing wildlife habitat at the UF/IFAS Extension Leon County Spring Open House. Visitors can tour demonstration gardens, and purchase a plant at the plant sale. Other Extension program areas will also be there. The Family Nutrition Program – Farm to School will have children’s activities and school garden resources for teachers. Leon County 4-H will introduce folks to archery. The Big Bend Woodwind Quintet will also be providing musical entertainment while you tour the gardens. Light refreshments will be available.

When:   9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Saturday, May 7

Where:  UF/IFAS Extension Leon County Office, 615 Paul Russell Road, Tallahassee, Florida, 32301.

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

Source: Mark Tancig, 850-606-5202, tancig00@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS to host panel about global food security with Rep. Ted Yoho on May 2

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

Background: The House of Representatives recently passed the Global Food Security Act, a bill crucial to the continuation of the important Feed the Future Innovation Lab research at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).  Congressman Ted Yoho’s district includes the University of Florida, and he is a supporter of this legislation and other USAID-supported research at public land-grant institutions. This panel will provide a greater understanding of how that research affects his district and U.S. efforts to promote nutrition, food security and partnerships with farmers abroad.

What: A panel discussion to highlight the important contributions being made by the University of Florida to the fight against global food insecurity and malnutrition.

Where: UF Animal Sciences Horse Teaching Unit; 1934 SW 63rd Ave. From main campus, head south on SW 13th St., and turn right onto SW 63rd Avenue.  The HTU is located about 0.4 miles down the road on the right.  Parking is ample.
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UF/IFAS researchers: Florida sees dramatic increase in school gardens

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, Nutrition, Vegetables

4H counselor gardening with children.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — School gardens have been popping up like pea plants all over Florida, and students and teachers are eating up the benefits.

There are approximately 1,300 school gardens in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. These gardens provide numerous benefits to students and teachers, said Kohrine Counts, a dietetics intern and master’s student at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

A recent study by Counts and Karla Shelnutt, an associate professor in the department of family, youth and community sciences and UF/IFAS Extension nutrition specialist, shows that school gardens are an excellent way to get fresh produce into classrooms and cafeterias. And, they also provide students with a living classroom where concepts related to science, math, agriculture and nutrition can be learned and applied, Counts said.

“School gardens get children outside and offers an interactive learning environment,” Counts said. “It gives them a chance to see where their food comes from, and allows children to develop life skills such as leadership, self-awareness, decision making and responsibility.”

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UF/IFAS researchers try to expand muscadine grape market

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

Charles Sims

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are trying to expand consumers’ knowledge of muscadine grapes, and they hope that awareness leads to more people buying them.

“They’re full of nutrients and flavor,” UF/IFAS food science professor Charles Sims said of the tick-skinned fruit.

Right now, muscadine grapes are grown only in the South and are not very well known in other parts of the country, Sims said. Apparently, more consumers are apt to buy muscadine grapes if they know about them, at least according to a recent UF/IFAS experiment.

For her master’s thesis, Mailys Fredericq, a graduate student in food science and human nutrition, studied 139 participants – 70 of whom considered themselves familiar with muscadine grapes, and 69 who were not. Fredericq found that those who knew about muscadine grapes like their appearance, flavor and texture much more than those who didn’t know much about the grapes.

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UF/IFAS scientists honored as UF Research Foundation professors

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biofuels, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Environment, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Nutrition, RECs, Research, Soil and Water Science

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Six University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty members, who are trying to solve global issues as wide-ranging as better alternative fuels and nutrient absorption, have been named as UF Research Foundation Professors for 2016-19.

The recognition goes to faculty who demonstrate a distinguished record of research and a strong research agenda that’s likely to continue to distinguish them in their fields.

“UF/IFAS faculty research continuously shows its value in practical ways, but these faculty members stand out because the University of Florida is recognizing their outstanding work,” said UF/IFAS Dean for Research Jackie Burns. “Their scientific research helps solve global issues ranging from potential solutions to citrus greening to growing crops in a changing climate to finding new sources of alternative energy.”

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UF/IFAS recognizes top faculty research

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Aquaculture, Economics, Environment, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Nutrition, Pests, RECs, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Whether it’s hybrid termites, grain pathogens, mosquito mating or something in between, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are studying important topics and helping to solve global issues.

The UF/IFAS Research Dean’s Office recently recognized more than two dozen UF/IFAS faculty members for their impactful research, and Dean for Research Jackie Burns said she could not be more proud of the scientists.

“We recognize that these research articles are examples of the many published by UF/IFAS that are highly impactful and help reach solutions to worldwide issues including food shortages, nutrition, diseases and economic development,” Burns said. “Our faculty perform top-quality, globally-recognized scientific work, and we’re proud to recognize them.”

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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 study finds better way to keep shrimp juicy, tasty

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Economics, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

Shrimp and cans of crab meat on display for sale at a seafood store.  Fishing, seafood industry, food.  UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When you eat a shrimp, you probably want it to be juicy. That’s why University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are trying to find alternatives to phosphates to lock in that texture and savory flavor.

Normally, phosphate or table salt is used to retain moisture in meat and seafood, said Paul Sarnoski, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of food science and human nutrition. But adding salt to the food puts more salt in a person’s diet, and that’s unhealthy, Sarnoski said. Additionally, phosphates are relatively expensive, he said.

In a study recently published in the Journal of Food Science, Sarnoski and his UF/IFAS colleagues found that phosphate alternatives such as polysaccharides – a type of carbohydrate often used as a food additive – can help retain water in shrimp. UF/IFAS scientists tested the shrimp using phosphates and polysaccharides. They boiled, froze and dried the crustaceans to see how much water the shrimp lost.

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UF/IFAS study identifies opportunity for further promotion of Florida strawberries

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

Fresh strawberries and strawberry plants.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — More than three quarters of Florida’s strawberries are shipped to American markets east of the Mississippi River. Most of those out-of-state consumers enjoy the fruit, but some mistakenly think Sunshine State strawberries aren’t available at their grocery stores, a new University of Florida study shows.

That means marketers and others must do a better job ensuring consumers know strawberries come from Florida, said Joy Rumble, an assistant professor of agricultural education and communication. This is particularly true in light of increased competition from California and Mexico, Rumble said. In Florida, the strawberry harvest brought in $267 million in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Rumble, a faculty member at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and a team of researchers from the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education conducted 10 focus groups in five cities east of the Mississippi River. The cities were Charlotte, North Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; Columbus, Ohio; New York City and Boston.

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