Yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack launched three new online tools that will help consumers make healthier food choices and gain a better appreciation of the role of American agriculture in food production from the farm to the table.

"Because more than 80 percent of our population lives in suburban and metropolitan areas, when we think of food, we more often think of the grocery store than the farm," he says. "There is a disconnect between the farmer and the food that consumers buy and we want to re-connect these long standing ties between the people who produce the food and those who purchase and prepare it. These new online tools will help do that."

Vilsack launched the 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative on Sept. 15 to begin a national conversation about food and to help connect people more closely with the farmers who supply their food and increase the production, marketing and consumption of fresh, nutritious food that is grown locally in a sustainable manner. These three new online applications were designed by USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) to help consumers make healthier food choices and are part of that initiative. They are:

  • Known for its MyPyramid food guidance system and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, USDA's CNPP has designed a companion initiative, "Growing a Healthier You: Nutrition From the Farm to the Table," with the launch of a new Web page. This new site links garden and farm produce to the nutritional well-being of the public and the significance of locally grown fruits and vegetables. This Web page will promote national initiatives, such as National Nutrition Month and feature interesting facts about specific fruits, vegetables and other foods. It will also feature: What's for Dinner (or Breakfast or Lunch); Your Garden, Your Produce, Your Menus; and From Garden to Plate, Safety Matters.
  • MyFood-a-pedia is a new online tool that gives consumers quick access to nutrition information for over 1,000 foods. The MyFood-a-pedia provides calorie count information on the contribution of the food to the five food groups people need to be healthy. MyFood-a-pedia also provides the number of "extra" calories in foods from solid fats, added sugars and alcohol. 
  • "10 Tips" will feature a variety of topics under CNPP's Nutrition Education Series. The "10 Tips" begins with cutting back on salt and sodium, followed by tips for setting good examples to be a healthy role model for children, tips for following a vegetarian diet, and tips for making more environmentally friendly food choices. Other tips will be added regularly, and can be downloaded here.

Source: USDA