Publications

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  • 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.

  • Price Trends Are Similar for Fruits, Vegetables, and Snack Foods

    ERR-55, March 12, 2008

    Evidence suggest that a wide class of unprepared fresh fruits and vegetables-those that have not been combined with labor-saving attributes-display declining prices along with prices of commonly consumed dessert and snack foods

  • Converging Patterns in Global Food Consumption and Food Delivery Systems

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2008

    U.S. and international trends in food spending, food consumption, and food delivery systems. Across countries and income levels worldwide, consumers are choosing to spend their additional income on some combination of increased quality, convenience, and variety of foods. Food delivery and consumption patterns in middle-income countries are converging to countries with higher income levels. Income growth has been a primary force behind converging global consumption patterns.

  • High-Fructose Corn Syrup Usage May Be Leveling Off

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2008

    Since peaking in 1999 at 63.7 pounds per person, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) availability has dropped to 59 pounds per person in 2005. Decreasing use of HFCS is partly due to bottled water and diet soft drinks taking sales from HFCS-sweetened soft drinks. Food manufacturers are using a combination of sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners, and bulking agents in more foods, also contributing to decreased use of HFCS.

  • Research Areas

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2008

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

  • Household Food Security in the United States, 2007

    ERR-66, November 17, 2007

    Eighty-nine percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year in 2007, meaning that they had access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. The remaining households (11.1 percent) were food insecure at least some time during the year. About one-third of food insecure households (4.1 percent of all U.S. households) had very low food security-meaning that the food intake of one or more adults was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food. Prevalence rates of food insecurity and very low food security were essentially unchanged from those in 2005 and 2006.

  • Research Areas

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2007

    Research area charts from the November 2007 issue of Amber Waves.

  • Research Areas

    Amber Waves, September 03, 2007

    Research area charts from the September 2007 issue of Amber Waves.

  • Food Spending Depends on Age and Income

    Amber Waves, September 03, 2007

    By 2030, about 24 percent of the U.S. population will be 65 or older. An aging population will affect how much and what types of food are purchased.

  • Coffee Consumption Over the Last Century

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2007

    ERS's food availability data show a rise and fall in coffee consumption over the past century. Per capita availability of coffee in the U.S. peaked in 1946 at 46.4 gallons per person compared with 24.6 gallons in 2004. Per capita coffee availability is up 22 percent since its low in 1995, due to the increase in coffee consumed away from home.