Baskets of okra offered for sale at a farmers’ market. UF/IFAS photo by Tyler L. Jones
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Floridians are buying more food grown locally or regionally and retail sales are higher here than in other states, according to a University of Florida study.
It showed local food represents about 20 percent of all Florida food purchased for at-home consumption, except restaurant take-out food, said Alan Hodges, an Extension scientist with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
The study was based on a statewide consumer survey. Prior estimates from other states had local food accounting for about 5 percent of all food sales, he said.
“We are doing relatively better in Florida, in moving toward food self-sufficiency,” Hodges said. “I can only attribute that to the favorable year-round growing conditions we have for fruits and vegetables.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two University of Florida scientists will share their research on a natural way to sweeten foods with colleagues and journalists at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting this week in Boston.
Harry Klee, of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and Linda Bartoshuk, of UF’s College of Dentistry, have been asked to meet with journalists Thursday morning.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Last year’s open house at the University of Florida dairy farm was so successful that organizers were “moo-tivated” to repeat the event, which returns to Alachua County on Saturday, March 16.
Free and open to the public, Family Day at the Dairy Farm takes place 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Hague, 20 minutes northwest of Gainesville just off U.S. Highway 441. For directions, see http://tinyurl.com/d3a5626.
Visitors can watch cows being milked, pet calves, walk through free-stall barns, make butter, see farming equipment and learn how UF research helps keep dairy cows happy, healthy and productive. There will even be free samples of dairy products, a giant cow statue to admire, and a hayride to transport visitors to and from the parking area.
Local actor Houston Wells will reprise his role as President Abraham Lincoln, greeting visitors and posing for photos. It will be one of his final appearances commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, a bill Lincoln signed in 1862 to establish the land-grant university system. UF is the state’s flagship land-grant university.
Organizers hope to exceed last year’s attendance, which was about 800 people, said dairy Extension specialist Albert De Vries, an associate professor with UF’s animal sciences department.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two faculty members with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have won a prestigious U.S. Department of Agriculture award for their work creating a graduate-level course that combines the three-part mission of land-grant universities: Extension, teaching and research.
Karla Shelnutt, an Extension nutrition specialist and assistant professor in family, youth and community sciences, and Gail Kauwell, a professor in food science and human nutrition, will accept the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Partnership Award for Innovative Programs and Projects Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Doing business with a farmers’ market phony selling non-local food might bother some shoppers, but not all, according to a new University of Florida study.
Shoppers often assume farmers’ markets sell only the freshest crops from small, local operations, said Mickie Swisher, an associate professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. But with the number of U.S. farmers’ markets more than quadrupled since 1994, big-volume produce dealers sometimes use them to sell items shipped from other states or countries.
When that happens, customers may feel outraged or indifferent, depending on whether they’re committed to eating local or just want a pleasant excursion, said Swisher, one of the study’s authors.
The findings, published in the current issue of the journal HortScience, suggest that farmers’ market managers can keep serious and casual shoppers happy by requiring honest labeling and creating opportunities for patrons to mingle, she said.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference is a one-stop shop for anyone who has thought about starting a farm or supporting local foods.
The conference, now in its fourth year, is presented by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and Florida A&M University. It will feature tours, vendor exhibits, lunch and nearly 30 presentations.
The conference will be held at the Osceola Heritage Park located at 1875 Silver Spur Lane in Kissimmee July 27-29.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Crop genetics expert Harry Klee, an eminent scholar and professor in the University of Florida horticultural sciences department, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences Tuesday for his research achievements.
He was one of 84 new members announced at the organization’s 149th annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Election to NAS is one of the highest honors given to a scientist or engineer in the U.S., and members are elected by current members for outstanding achievements in their fields. Klee will be formally inducted next April.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Iron is a key mineral for human health. Too much of it in your body — or too little — can lead to major health problems.
University of Florida researchers have discovered that an iron-absorption process thought to happen only within cell membranes can also happen within the interior of iron-deficient rodents’ intestinal cells. The finding suggests there is at least one unidentified protein involved in iron absorption, and that it may help maintain proper iron levels in the blood by mediating iron extraction from the diet.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Blueberry wine can provide more potentially healthy compounds than white wines and many red wines, according to a new University of Florida study.
Researchers with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences measured antioxidant content in a Florida-produced blueberry wine and compared it to published reports of antioxidant content in white and red wines made from grapes. Antioxidants are compounds that may offer cells protection from damaging molecules called free radicals.
The researchers found the Florida wine, produced from southern highbush blueberries, had more antioxidants than all of the reported white wine values and all but 20 percent of the reported values for red wines, which are considered high in antioxidants.