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  • Vegetables and Melons Outlook: August 2009

    VGS-333-01, August 19, 2009

    Growth over time in the demand for fresh vegetables for at-home consumption may slow because of differences in the behavior of younger and older birth cohorts. A birth cohort includes people born in the same year and is similar in concept to a generation. People born around the same point in history may share common behaviors that they carry throughout their lives independent of age. People born more recently are found to spend less money for fresh vegetables than older Americans do. Changes in how people purchase and consume food may help to explain these effects.

  • Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food-Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences: Report to Congress

    AP-036, June 25, 2009

    This report fills a request for a study of food deserts-areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food-from the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. The report summarizes findings of a national-level assessment of the extent and characteristics of food deserts, analysis of the consequences of food deserts, lessons learned from related Federal programs, and a discussion of policy options for alleviating the effects of food deserts. Overall, findings show that a small percentage of consumers are constrained in their ability to access affordable nutritious food because they live far from a supermarket or large grocery store and do not have easy access to transportation.

  • Indicators- Amber Waves - June 2009

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2009

    Selected statistics on agriculture and trade, diet and health, natural resources, and rural America from June 2009.

  • An Illustrated Guide to Research Findings from USDA's Economic Research Service

    EIB-48, April 01, 2009

    This book contains a sampling of recent ERS research illustrating the breadth of the Agency's research on current policy issues: from biofuels to food consumption to land conservation to patterns of trade for agricultural products.

  • WIC and the Battle Against Childhood Overweight

    EB-13, April 01, 2009

    One of the most worrisome aspects of the growing tide of obesity in the United States is the high rate of overweight among children. Over one in five young children, ages 2 to 5, are at risk of being overweight. The number of children at risk of being overweight has grown in the past two decades, as has the number of young children whose families participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Are these increases connected? The answer appears to be "No." However, being from a low-income family, especially a low-income, Mexican-American family, does raise the probability of a child's being at risk for overweight. This brief examines trends in the relationship between WIC participation and weight status by updating the results of Food and Nutrition Assistance Programs and Obesity: 1976-2002 (ERR-48) to include data from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

  • Supermarket Loss Estimates for Fresh Fruit, Vegetables, Meat, Poultry, and Seafood and Their Use in the ERS Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Data

    EIB-44, March 20, 2009

    Using new national estimates of supermarket food loss, ERS updates each fresh fruit, vegetable, meat, and poultry commodity in its Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data series.

  • Working Parents Outsource Children’s Meals

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2009

    Virtually all households take the dollar cost of food into account when making food choices. But for some households, the time involved in planning, shopping for, and preparing a meal is also an important consideration. Findings from the Eating & Health Module of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) indicate that many working parents free up time by "outsourcing" their children's meals--that is, they purchase prepared meals for their children at school or day care.

  • Data Feature

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2009

    Health professionals, farmers, food companies, and policymakers want to know what Americans are eating, both the type of foods and how much. But charting the eating habits of 300 million people is not easy. Researchers rely on a number of surveys and data sources, each with strengths and weaknesses.

  • Research Areas

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2009

    This page contains research area charts from the March 2009 issue of Amber Waves.

  • When Nudging in the Lunch Line Might Be a Good Thing

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2009

    With over 30 million children served each school day, USDA-sponsored school meals provide an important opportunity to improve diet and health. Schools can exert considerable control over the food choices they offer and the manner in which they are presented. Understanding how simple rules of thumb and certain cues, like presentation and visual appeal, can influence our on-the-spot decisions can reveal potential options to increase the link between intentions and behaviors. Choice architecture relies heavily on subtle cues, or “nudges,” to encourage people to follow through on their intentions. Behavioral economic theory suggests several possibilities to structure school cafeteria environments in a noncoercive manner to encourage healthy choices.

  • Fruit and Vegetable Consumption by Low-Income Americans: Would a Price Reduction Make a Difference?

    ERR-70, January 09, 2009

    ERS study found that a 10-percent reduction in prices would encourage low-income Americans to raise consumption of fruit by 2.1-5.2 percent and vegetables by 2.1-4.9 percent.

  • The Roles of Economists in the U.S. Department of Agriculture

    AP-031, January 02, 2009

    Among the many responsibilities of USDA are implementing the Food Stamp Program and other food and nutrition assistance programs; managing Federal forest land; implementing standards of humane care and treatment of animals; providing incentives for adopting wildlife habitat enhancements and other conservation practices; participating in trade negotiations; ensuring the safety of meat, poultry, and eggs; providing funds for rural business development; and implementing farm programs legislated by Congress. The Department has a broad mandate, and virtually everything with which it is charged has economic dimensions. It is not surprising, then, that USDA employs over 800 economists across 16 of its agencies.

  • A Comparison of Household Food Security in Canada and the United States

    ERR-67, December 29, 2008

    Using nationally representative surveys from the United States and Canada, ERS compares rates of food insecurity in economic and demographic subgroups of the two countries.

  • Behavioral Economic Concepts To Encourage Healthy Eating in School Cafeterias: Experiments and Lessons From College Students

    ERR-68, December 15, 2008

    ERS describes an experiment in a college cafeteria to assess how various payment options and menu selection methods affect food choices.

  • Can Low-Income Americans Afford a Healthy Diet?

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2008

    Low-income households that receive maximum food assistance benefits usually can afford a healthy diet; others may have more difficulty.

  • Stabilizing Federal Support for Emergency Food Providers

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2008

    Through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), USDA supplies a variety of commodities and funds to States, who in turn provide them to food banks and other emergency food providers. USDA commodities account for nearly 14 percent of food distributed by emergency food providers. The 2008 Farm Act provides an immediate funding boost of $50 million and inflation-adjusted increases in funding through 2012.

  • Food Safety and Imports: An Analysis of FDA Import Refusal Reports

    EIB-39, September 09, 2008

    This report examines U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data on refusals of food offered for importation into the United States from 1998 to 2004. Although the data do not necessarily reflect the distribution of risk in foods, the study found that import refusals highlight food safety problems that appear to recur in trade and where the FDA has focused its import alerts, examinations (e.g., sampling), and other monitoring efforts. The data show some food industries and types of violations may be consistent sources of problems both over time and in comparison with previous studies of more limited data. The three food industry groups with the most violations were vegetables (20.6 percent of total violations), fishery and seafood (20.1 percent), and fruits (11.7 percent). Violations observed over the entire time period include sanitary issues in seafood and fruit products, pesticides in vegetables, and unregistered processes for canned food products in all three industries.

  • Research Areas

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2008

    Research area charts from the September 2008 issue of Amber Waves.

  • Lower Income Households Spend Additional Income on Foods Other Than Fruit and Vegetables

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2008

    An analysis of the 2003 Consumer Expenditure Survey found that households with incomes less than 130 percent of the poverty line will spend additional income on needs other than fruit and vegetables. Among the foods examined, these households were more likely to spend a small increase in income on beef and frozen prepared foods.

  • Research Areas

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2008

    Research area charts from the June 2008 issue of Amber Waves.