Farm bill should expand SNAP, test fruit and vegetable incentives — task force

Congress should expand SNAP, the premiere U.S. anti-hunger program, to all American territories in the new farm bill and test whether benefits tied to the purchase of fruits and vegetables would improve the diets of SNAP households, a high-powered task force proposed on Tuesday. The recommendations could add billions of dollars a year to SNAP outlays at a time when conservative Republicans want to cut its cost.

A salad, a glass of wine, a bit of time and U.S. will be a food importer

The American preference for fresh foods year-round, often washed down with a glass of wine—or something stronger—will drive a $100 billion increase in food and ag imports in the years ahead, according to the Agriculture Department. It would turn the United States into a net importer of food in the long term and question the proud sentiment in farm country that America feeds the world.

Hurricanes walloped Texas and Florida but vegetable market persevered

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which ravaged Florida's orange crop, "seem to have had little effect on vegetable prices," says USDA's Vegetable and Pulses Outlook. The storms arrived early in the planting season for so-called winter vegetables, "primarily causing a delay in plantings," according to USDA economists.

Indoor-farming company set to go global with major investment

The tech-investment firm SoftBank Vision Fund says it will spend $200 million to help the indoor farming startup Plenty expand around the globe. Currently the company has two farms, one in San Francisco and another in Laramie, Wyoming, but it wants to scale up, tapping into population centers around the world.

Americans still have a sweet tooth for sweeteners

On average, Americans consume nearly twice as much sugar and sweeteners as recommended, says a USDA economist in comparing food consumption data with the current edition of the Dietary Guidelines. "While the American diet has improved in some ways, many people still fall short of targets for some food groups and over-indulge in others," says the analysis in USDA's Amber Waves magazine.

Don’t want to slice your own tomato? Ask the produce butcher.

In Manhattan, Whole Foods' latest store offers customers a “produce butcher” to cut up vegetables in real time — and for a price. According to the store’s sign, the produce butcher will “julienne (long, thin matchsticks), mince, dice, chop, and slice” produce for a dollar a pound, says Modern Farmer.

A long-term streak: Americans won’t eat their vegetables

The United States is one of the five largest vegetable producers in the world, yet Americans have for decades disregarded the advice to eat more vegetables, say USDA economists Hodan Wells and Jeanine Bentley. "For Americans to meet the (Dietary) Guidelines' recommendations, their intake of overall vegetables, including legumes, would need to increase by 50 percent," or 0.84 cup per day per person, they write in a special article in the Vegetables and Pulses Outlook.

Pre-washed bagged salad mix as safe as whole heads

Pre-washed, packaged leafy greens have gotten a bad wrap due to E.coli and Listeria outbreaks that have sickened and even killed people, but studies say the bagged stuff is just as safe and healthy as whole lettuce heads, says NPR. “Detectable contamination in both whole head lettuce and …

Demand for perfection is biggest factor in U.S. food waste

Nearly half of the fruit and vegetables grown on U.S. farms never reach consumers, because the “cult of perfection” demands perfectly shaped peppers and blemish-free apples, says the Guardian.

Study: Americans are eating less produce—but the news isn’t all bad

Despite a steady bombardment of advice about the importance of eating a healthy diet, Americans are eating fewer fruits and vegetables on average than they were in the 1990s, said the USDA’s Economic Research Service, which analyzed annual consumption rates for 120 varieties of raw, dried, canned, frozen and juiced produce between 1994-98 and 2007-2008.

Ugly produce might be better for you

“Ugly” fruits and vegetables might actually be more nutritious than blemish-free produce, says NPR. Scabs and scars on the skin are a sign that the plant fought off invaders, whether pests or fungus.