USDA of the 20’s

I was browsing through the USDA archive folders and I found some great posters from the 1920’s. These were posters the USDA used to promote a nutritious and healthy lifestyle. It is so fun to look back at these photos and see how far our science and lifestyle has advanced over the past 9 decades. Can you believe that we have come all the way from the milk bottle “pyramid” at the bottom to the MyPlate system that we use today?

Did you know that the USDA was actually started under President Lincoln? In 1862 with his signing of the Agriculture Act the United States Department of Agriculture began. Since then the USDA has founded many great programs like the National School Lunch Program , the MyPlate program (formerly known as MyPyramid), and the Organic Food Certification Program just to a name a few. Thanks to efforts made by the USDA (and other entities) the United States can boast having one of the largest and safest food supplies in the world.

I love that this poster portrays good posture as one of the keys to good health!

This poster is too cute! How funny is it that they are reminding people to take a bath “oftener” than once a week?

Photos courtesy of USDA Flicker: http://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/3926153935/in/set-72157622389248082/

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Food Safety for College Students

September is that time of year when students start heading back to school and the cooler weather starts moving in.  College co-eds are getting back into the swing of football games and late night cramming. Freshmen are learning to live without their parents and survive on their own.

Did you know that September is also National Food Safety Month? Food safety is a very important, and often times overlooked, subject. The CDC estimates that every year close to 48 million people will contract a food borne illness and 3,000 people a year will die from one. Many of you have probably contracted light cases of food poisoning at sometime in your lives without even knowing it. The positive to point out about food poisoning however is that most cases are preventable. So as all of you college students are adjusting to your late nights and new diets here are some food safety tips to keep in mind.

You wake up in the morning to find a leftover box of pizza on your table from the night before, you are considering eating a slice for breakfast before class. Good idea? Probably not. Perishable foods like pizza and other take out meals should never be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours. We call room temperature the “danger zone” because this is where bacteria are able to thrive the most. So throw the leftover box away. The next time you order take out make sure to refrigerate the food within two hours. If you do so your pizza will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days saving you a couple of dollars on your next meals.

Wanting to save time and money by packing your lunch to take to campus? Great idea! Just make sure you are packing it safely and correctly. Hot foods need to stay hot (not warm) and cold foods must stay cold. Again, we want to keep all foods out of the danger zone (40 degrees – 140 degrees). In order to keep hot foods hot consider using a thermos for liquid items. However a better option is to chill your food the night before and then use a microwave on campus to heat the food when you are ready to eat. To keep food cold use an insulated lunchbox and ice packs. Remember ANY perishable food must be kept out of the danger zone. This includes lunch meats and cheeses, leftovers, and many types of condiments. If you are unsure if your food will be safe or not, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Throw in an ice pack just in case.

If your parents send groceries back to school with you after a weekend at home, this is a great thing! It can be a good idea to keep an ice chest in your car that way all perishable food will make it back to campus with you safely. Load the food just before leaving and add ice packs or ice as needed.

If you have any instance come up where you need to prepare food for a group (i.e. potluck, meeting, etc)  keep some basic food safety rules in mind.

  • Always wash your hands BEFORE  preparing any food and AFTER handling raw meats.
  • Use clean utensils and dishes.
  • Never use the same dishes and utensils for fresh foods as you used for raw meats.
  • Make sure to keep foods hot/cold during transportation by using ice chests or heating sources.

Food safety just takes a few extra steps and little extra effort but the pay off is always worth it! Keep these tips in mind and feel free to e-mail me if you need more information amanda.horn@okstate.edu

References:

United States Department of Agricutlture. (July 2011). Food Safety Tips for College Students. Retrieved from http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Food_Safety_Tips_for_College_Students.pdf

What’s that name again?

I recently read an article put out by the International Food Information Council Foundation discussing the big long names in food labels. You know you have all read them before. Examples include Acesulfame Potassium, Gamma Tocopherol,  Zeaxanthin, and the list goes on.

 

Does it scare you when you see names you can not pronounce? Does it make you second guess what you are putting into your body? It’s okay if that is the case. I have to admit that even I feel sometimes like my science degree did not fully prepare me for those big long names. I also have to admit that many times I look like a second grader slowly sounding out the word syll-a-ble by syll-a-ble.

 

But do longer names really mean that it is less healthy? Take the poll below and tell us what you think! After you rock the vote check out the article “What’s In a Name?” (It is a very quick read I promise!)

 

Did the article change your perception or was this information you assumed all along? Leaves us your comments!*

 

 

*This blog literally thrives off of your comments! We need all the feed back we can get. So please leave a comment and tell us what you did or did not learn! And stay tuned for future posts.

 

The (short) Scoop on Orzo

As I was preparing recipes for my Healthy Cooking with Herbs & Spices class later this month I came across a recipe for Parmesan Basil Orzo. I thought it sounded great so I added it to the recipe list. I soon realized though that many people in this area have no idea what orzo is.  This is not very surprising since most Oklahoman’s (including myself) like to stick to our traditional meat, potatoes, green beans, and corn diet. So what is orzo? A rice? A grain? A vegetable?

Actually orzo is a pasta! Just by the looks of orzo though I can tell how one would easily be confused. The word orzo actually means “barley” in Italian because of it’s close resemblance to the grain. Orzo is frequently used in soups but has recently become more popular in side dish and salad recipes. It is versatile and easy to change up by adding basic ingredients like herbs, cheese, or olive oils. One serving of orzo contains around 200 calories, but just like any pasta how much you “dress it up” really effects the calorie content. Another great thing about orzo is there are no special instructions or tutorials needed when it comes to cooking it. You can prepare orzo just like you would any other pasta, by boiling it in water.

Many of us get weary of trying new foods, we like to stick to what we know, the tried and true recipes. However branching out and trying new foods can be fun and exciting. I think orzo is a great place to start when trying new foods. So add some orzo to your next bowl of soup, or eat it as a side dish with your next meal.

HERE is a link to some great orzo recipes to get you started!