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USDA'S REPORT TO CON rE
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE OFFICE OF INFORMATION SHIf
February 1966 No. 26
Picking Parents For Poinsettias. Four new varieties of
poinsettias--three with white flowers, one with red--will be
available to home gardeners by Christmas 1966. They have
been developed by U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists
through crossbreeding. Previously, new poinsettia varieties
just happened--as freaks of nature. Now they're being de-
veloped through careful scientific research--and, as a result,
are much better plants than their parents. They are easier
to grow, hold their foliage and flowers longer, and have
tighter blooms. Look for Snowcaps with the whitest flowers
yet; the Snowflake, with stiff stems and large clear-white
flowers; White Cloud, a tall plant with strong stiff stems
and creamy-white flowers; and Stoplight, a shapely poinsettia
with glowing red flowers.
Paint and Polish. You may not have missed them, but fuzzy
paint rollers--the kind made of sheepskins with the wool cut
short--are back. For a while, when water-based paints came
on the market, sheepskin rollers gave way to synthetic roller
covers which were more resistant to chemical attack and
shrinkage. Then, the U.S. Department of Agriculture dis-
covered a new tanning method. This has put the sheepkins
back in competition--as wax applicators and polishers as well
as paint rollers. Sheepskin covers work especially well
because they're absorbent and spread the paint and polish
Deep Freeze for Castor Oil. Castor oil is being taken out of
the medicine cabinet and put into the freezer. Research
scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture find castor
oil and its derivatives can be made into a high-quality ure-
thane foam for insulating refrigerators and freezers. The
castor-based foam is strong, has good insulating ability,
and is fire resistant. It could be used in other things
besides home refrigeration units--as an insulation in prefab
walls, roofs and floors, and in the construction of refri-
gerated ships, railcars and trucks. In Minneapolis, research-
ers, working under a USDA contract, are now conducting large-
scale machine-foaming studies to develop industrial process-
This Little Pig. Out at Beltsville, Md.--in the U.S. Department of Agriculture re-
search labs--there are a lot of little pigs that will never go to market. They are
miniatures that the scientists are using for experimental purposes. Hogs, it seems,
are much like people. They are subject to many of the same maladies. They have about
the same food requirements, digest food in much the same way--even suffer from peptic
ulcers. And a hog's heart and major blood vessels resemble those of humans. Small-
size hogs (the miniatures) require smaller doses of costly experimental drugs, are
less expensive to house, are easier to handle. That's why these little pigs will stay
home--to help science learn more about you and your body.
Lying to Layers. How's a chicken to know when she's being short-changed? It's im-
possible, say U.S. Department of Agriculture poultry specialists. And they're taking
advantage of the situation. Researchers are regulating the light-dark period of a
test flock of hens--to see if they can get the hens' laying mechanism to operate on an
18-hour instead of 24-hour day. For the chickens, it will mean 486.6 working days per
year--and, the specialists hope, a proportionately greater number of eggs in their
INFORMATION TO WRITE FOR
Consumer Information. What's your interest, your need, your problem? Appliances...
money...recreation...or food. You'll find out where to get information on these and
numerous other consumer questions from the new Consumer Information catalog put out
by the Government Printing Office. The catalog provides a quick listing of all
current consumer booklets published by the Federal government. Publications printed
in Spanish appear in a special section, and for the senior citizen there's a selected
listing printed in large, easy-to-read type. Single copies of this catalog are avail-
able without charge from the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402. Or you can buy them in quantity at the special price of $7.50
Skiing. You'll find some of the best ski areas in the country in our National Forests.
There are 169 to choose from. Where they are and what facilities they offer is
explained in the new "Skiing" booklet published by the Forest Service. The booklet
also gives a brief history of skiing in the United States, of avalanche control and
the Forest Service's Snow Rangers. To obtain a copy of "Skiing" write to the Superin-
tendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. It costs
Medicare and You. Concerned about what Medicare will and will not pay? You may want
to get a two-page summary reprinted from USDA's "Farm Index" magazine. It shows, for
example, that you pay only the first $40 of any hospital bill; Medicare's hospital
coverage pays nearly all other reasonable charges (private nurses, private rooms and
the like are extra). You pay the first $50 a year in doctor and other medical bills;
Medicare's doctor and medical coverage pays 80 percent of the remaining reasonable
charges. And you can use your own physician. Coverage starts when you reach age 65--
if you take timely action. For a free copy of "Medicare: Its Impact on Rural
America," ERS-272, write OMS-DI, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20250.
- 3 -
IN THE YARD AND GARDEN
New Ground Cover. Here's a new way to whip crabgrass. Smother it with Euonymus
fortune Longwood. This ground cover, from the slopes of Mt. Tsubuka in Japan
makes so dense a cover that crabgrass seeds can't get enough light to germinate.
Longwood can be grown in almost any part of the country. It can survive tempera-
tures as low as -250 F. and as high as 1050--though in such heat there is some
sunscald. It has small dark green leaves, is low, and does not pile up. And it's
especially good in the shade or in partially shaded areas, or as a cover on low
masonary walls. The plant, brought to this country by U.S. Department of Agricul-
ture plant explorers, is now being distributed to experiment stations, arboretums
and nurserymen. It should be available to the public in limited supply next fall,
generally by the spring of 1967.
HOUSING AND HOME EQUIPMENT
A Second Home. Be a two-house family. You can build the second house yourself--
an inexpensive one-bedroom cabin for vacations in the mountains or at the seashore.
And if you choose a plan with clear-span trusses, you can live in it while you
build it. U.S. Department of Agriculture engineers have developed just the house.
The interior can be finished as one large room--then when you have more time and
money, you can throw up the partitions. Another good feature: The partitions are
movable, should the lady-of-the-house ever want to rearrange things. Complete
working drawings may be obtained through your county Extension agent. Ask him for
House Plan No. 5968.
On Air. It's no dream. It's available--now. A refrigerator that floats. An air
cushion device, activated by fingertip control, floats the refrigerator a fraction
of an inch above the floor, so it can be easily moved. Other refrigerators now
come with wheels for easy moving. Other things to look for in the year ahead,
according to the recent Agricultural Outlook Conference, are refrigerators with
seven-day meat keepers and adjustable, many-position shelves. Also, all but the
least expensive models will be frost-free. More than 175,000 units will have
automatic ice makers.
A Cure for Insects. Some people still prefer to home-cure their meats. For those
who do, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has published a bulletin telling how
to protect this meat from insects. Single copies may be obtained free from the
Office of Information, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20250.
Send your request on a postcard, ask for HG-109, "Protecting Home-Cured Meat from
Insects," and be sure to include you ZIP code.
Repellent for Repugnant Leeches. America's fighting forces in Vietnam have run
into another bloody enemy--leeches. Although these blood-suckers do not transmit
diseases, they do cause bleeding. To help our servicemen, the U.S. Department of
Agriculture has developed a repellent that works for both land and water leeches.
A combination of 75 percent lanolin (so it sticks to you) and 25 percent DEET (to
keep off the leeches), the repellent can be applied to skin or clothing.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
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3 1262 08740 0379
AT THE SUPERMARKET
More Elbow Room. Tomorrow's supermarkets will be bigger and better--and prices may
even be lower. According to marketing specialists at the U.S. Department of Agricul-
ture, you may soon be shopping in the backroom as well. It, too, will be devoted to
displaying foods. Trimming and packaging operations will be located elsewhere--at
some central location in the city--for a reduction of $15,000 per store in equipment
alone. As a bonus to consumers, the foods will come in more attractive displays, with
less waste, longer shelf life and better quality. And because there'll be more room,
shoppers will be more likely to find their favorite brand or product in stock.
More Coupon Shoppers. Some 800,000 needy people in all parts of the country are now
putting more food in their market baskets each week--and, as a result, better meals
on their tables. This extra boost in buying power comes from the Food Stamp Program
of the U.S. Department of Agriculture which allows low-income families to exchange
the amount of money they normally spend on food for coupons worth much more at the
grocery store. In January this program was extended to Stearns county, Minnesota;
Franklin county, Ohio; Cherokee county, South Carolina; Davis county,Utah; and
Milwaukee county, Wisconsin. People in 196 areas in 36 states and the District of
Columbia now shop with food coupons.
Inspected Graded. There's a difference--between USDA inspection and USDA grading
of meat and poultry. The inspection mark tells you its a wholesome product. The
grade mark tells the quality. An item may be inspected but not graded; but never
graded without inspection. The law requires that all meat and poultry moving across
State lines be inspected. But grading is not required. Grades are for your con-
venience, an impartial rating that makes comparison shopping easy. So look for both
the USDA inspection and USDA grade marks on the meat and poultry you buy.
Jetting Foods to You. Fresh fruits and vegetables from California are appearing
regularly on Midwest and Eastern dinner tables. Many gourmet items are coming by air--
often by jet. During the first 9 months of 1965, California producers air-shipped over
1,100 carlots of fresh fruits and vegetables--a 60 percent increase over the same
period a year earlier. Strawberries travel the farthest, oftenest. Over a half
million pounds even went to Frankfurt, Germany last year.
Bringing Home the Bacon. Most people buy bacon by the pound. They don't expect a 12-
ounce package. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Agriculture insists that a
package of "odd" weight proclaim this weight large and clear on the label. The public
should be made aware of the fact they are getting less, USDA believes.
Pick the Plentifuls. Shop the plentifuls and you shop economically. It's that old
rule of supply and demand. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says these foods will
be in good supply in February--canned red salmon, prunes and prune products (they're
the featured items), red tart cherries, oranges, grapefruit, onions, and potatoes.
If you live east of the Rockies, you'll also find lots of sweetpotatoes on the market.
SERVICE is a monthly newsletter of consumer interest. It is designed for those who
report to the individual consumer rather than for mass distribution. For information
about items in this issue, write: Jeanne S. Park, Editor, SERVICE, Office of
Information, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20250.
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