USDA.gov as a Resource
Last updated 3/23/2019 at 4:25pm
"The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is made up of 29 agencies and offices with nearly 100,000 employees who serve the American people at more than 4,500 locations across the country and abroad," states the website. For Wellness, we will focus on just a few things from this magnificent department: Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and National Agricultural Library (NAL).
I have used the food database available from the NAL since 2015 when I was following a migraine diet and tracked and balanced my sodium/potassium ratio for every meal. Diet relates to what I consumed, not a plan to lose weight. If you are following a ketogenic diet, the database makes it easy to calculate your macros to stay on target and in ketosis. You can sort by up to three nutrients and lookup many name brands. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list?home=true. This still works for now, but says it is transitioning to FoodData Central which will include "expanded nutrient content information never before available as well as links to diverse data sources that offer related agricultural, food, health, dietary supplement, and other information."
From the Health and Safety topic link on the home page: The food landscape in this country is ever changing. And USDA is involved in managing those changes as related to many areas of food processing and food distribution. From the inspection of domestic product, imports, and exports; conducting risk assessments; and educating the public about the importance of food safety, USDA is there.
Tools and Resources for Food Safety
• Check Your Steps
• EdNet: The National Food Safety Educator's Network
• Food Safety Fact Sheets
• Food Safety Recalls
• Irradiation Resources
• Is It Done Yet?
• Thermy™ - Food Thermometers and Food Safety
The link to the Food Safety Recalls, https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/recalls-and-public-health-alerts/current-recalls-and-alerts/current-recalls-and-alerts, has a place you can click to be emailed when recalls or public health alerts are issued. For instance on March 21 Tyson Foods announced it is recalling 69,000 pounds of chicken strip products that may be contaminated with pieces of metal. For the details, click on the link above then on the specific recall on the list. FSIS states they routinely conduct "recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers."
From Nutrient Content of the U.S. Food Supply, 1909-2004: A Summary Report: Food groups have fluctuated in their contribution to food energy in the food supply.
The percentage share of kilocalories from grains decreased from an average 38 percent in 1909-19 to an average 25 percent in 1990-99, and 24 percent in 2004 (table 4). The fats and oils group and the sugars and sweeteners group increased in their share of kilocalories over the years, each similarly providing an average 13 percent in 1909-19 and an average 19 percent in 1990-99. In 2004, the fats and oils group and the sugars and sweeteners group contribution to kilocalories varied with the larger contribution of 24 percent coming from fats and oils versus 17 percent derived from sugars and sweeteners. The meat, poultry, and fish group contribution of kilocalories declined over the series, from 15 to 14 percent between 1909-19 and 1990-99, respectively, and 13 percent in 2004. The dairy group also provided nearly the same share in 1909-19, 1990-99, and 2004 (9, 10, and 9 percent, respectively). On the other hand, the vegetable group showed a steady decline in its contribution of kilocalories in the food supply, with 7, 5, and 5 percent for 1909-19, 1990-99, and 2004, respectively. Contribution of kilocalories from fruit showed little variation over the series: 3 percent.
What I conclude from this is a large increase in fat consumption has affected our health. What surprised me was the increase in sugar wasn't more. Another thing this doesn't show is the change in how the grains are consumed. For example, corn chips are corn and fat, but you wouldn't expect them to give you the nutrition in an ear of corn, yet both are counted as consuming grains. It is still helpful to see the trends over time. Caloric consumption increased 500 calories a day over the last 100 years, too.
The USDA is packed with information we can use in our daily lives to make it better. I appreciate food safety and the many tools the USDA has for consumers. Dive in. See what new knowledge you can find.