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USDA'S REPORT TO CONSUMERS
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE OFFICE OF COMMUN IA It IHIKGTON, D.C. 20250
AUGUST-SEPTEMBER 1973 r No. 115
Meat??? Tourists and visitors to Mexic,-t 9e returning
to the U.S. with a souvenir not usually thought of as such
.... meat. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently issued
guidelines for consumers who are going into Mexico to buy meat
for personal use. The Federal Neat Inspection Act prohibits
entry of foreign meat in excess of 50 pounds per person unless
certified for export by the foreign country and inspected by a
U.S. meat inspector. Any excess of the 50 pounds may have to
be seized and destroyed at the border stations, causing a loss
to consumers. In addition to the restrictions on meat, animal
health regulations currently prohibit the importation of any
fresh pork, poultry, and eggs from Yexico. Pork and live hogs
carry the possibility of hog cholera--a highly infectious swine
disease; poultry and eggs may carry exotic Newcastle disease,
deadly to poultry and other birds.
FLAME RETARDANT SLEEPWEAR
Take Care. Federal law requires that all sleepwear manufac-
tured after July 29 in infant sizes through 6X must meet
Federal standards for flame resistance. All sleepwear in
those sizes manufactured in the preceding year had to be flame
retardant or be labeled to show that they were not. Legisla-
tion is pending to extend this coverage for children 7 to 14
so many manufacturers are making pajamas and gowns in the
larger sizes to meet the Federal flammability tests. Scien-
tists of USDA's Agricultural Research Service have developed
several flame retardant treatments for cottons that meet Federal
standards. These treatments also eliminate consumer objections
to earlier chemical treatments--rough fabric and unpleasant odor.
However, cotton garments can lose their flame retardancy when
laundered at home with detergents. This is especially true in
areas with moderately hard or hard water where chemicals in the
water build up deposits on the fibers. The USDA scientists say
that there is a simple way to protect the flame retardant finish:
Rinse the cottons in a mild acid solution during laundering. This
is easily done by adding about one cup of white vinegar to the
rinse cycle of home washing machines. Commercial laundries usu-
ally use a mild acid rinse as part of their standard laundering
FALL FOOD PREVIEW
You'll find fall shopping trips easier than they were last spring or summer. You
may see a lot more of several key foods: beef, chicken, potatoes, and onions.
Lower farm prices for these items are already in evidence. Moreover, it's the peak
supply season for turkeys, cranberries, nuts, grapes, and other harvest favorites.
Here's a preview of likely developments in each department of your grocery store
There's more beef to buy now. At.the same time, pork supplies will grow
seasonally larger. Our meat availability may rise again next year, judging
by the very large number of cattle that producers will have on hand then.
Chicken prices will go down. When consumers balked at the high chicken
prices in late summer, prices started down. Now producers are gearing up
to produce more broilers this fall.
Most turkeys come to market during these holiday months, so your store
will have plenty on hand. But they'll cost much more than in past years;
smaller supplies of competing foods have pushed up demand for turkey.
Egg producers are expanding production, after cutting back during the
price freeze. The recovery will take time, so don't be surprised if eggs
stay high priced through the end of 1973. Then look for more eggs and
lower prices early next year.
At the dairy counter, supplies are tightening and prices rising compared
with summer. While meat prices rose this spring and summer, dairy counter
prices moved up slowly...even though consumers were flocking to cheeses
and other dairy products for economical protein. Back on the farm, though,
high feed costs were forcing dairymen to produce less and less milk. Now
retail prices are going up, most sharply for butter, but also for fresh
milk, cheeses, and other products. But, you can still count on dairy
products as a good buy in nutrition.
Dry beans are also good protein sources for the money. Dried beans are
only a few cents higher than last fall (averaging 29 cents a pound this
August). Pintos are right for Mexican refried beans and chili, and
kidney beans and Great Northerns make great cold bean salads, and navy
beans are the foundation of New England's baked beans.
Canned tuna fish and sardines are good buys, costing little more than
last year. Frozen fish, like meats, cost more than last fall. Frozen
fillets are in better supply than fish sticks and other portion products.
Moving from main dishes to complementary fruits and vegetables, you'll find more
fresh fruit on the produce counter than you did last fall. Good weather in parts
of the West has made all the difference.
Apples, especially Delicious, are in good supply. Grapes are back this
year, and in season through Thanksgiving. Another avalanche of crimson
cranberries will brighten the season, and pears are at their best.
Bananas, a leading fresh fruit, are priced close to last year.
Holiday baking will be pleasanter with a much better availability of
raisins, dried fruit, and nuts...led by more pecans.
Citrus bobs back after Halloween, with the first oranges from the new
crop. In recent years, expanding groves have yielded an ever-increasing
supply. Oranges cost more this summer, but grapefruit didn't. There's
a sea of orange juice, too, both in fresh chilled and frozen concentrate
form. Prices haven't gone up, either.
Check berries while you're in the frozen fruit department. Bigger crops
of strawberries and blueberries were frozen this summer.
Stew stuff is featured among the vegetables. Potato prices are down now,
following high prices earlier in the year. And potatoes will continue
cheaper through fall and winter.
It's a similar story for the onion. With a generous crop to store through
winter, we won't run out again next spring. Prices should be returning to
more familiar levels.
At the bakery shelves, prices of bread, cookies, and cracker meal are up
from last fall, but by relatively less than prices of flour and rice.
That's because baked goods include many costs besides those of grain.
Have you been stocking up? Food processors note very heavy sales of canned
and frozen vegetables this year, heading for tight supplies and higher
Now let's look ahead to see what all these developments will do to your shopping
bill. Seasonally lower prices for red meat, chicken, and produce may hold grocery
bills near their summer levels, maybe even push them down a bit.
As for more food, U.S. farmers are harvesting the biggest crops ever this fall.
Also, our supplies of beef and poultry are on the uptrend. Thus, a net improvement
in food supplies is possible during 1974, the only real key to better eating at
A TWIST ON PLANTING TREES
Pine In A Pot. The ancient Oriental art of bonsai culture--growing miniature trees
in pots--is becoming increasingly popular in this country. With bonsai, it is pos-
sible to have a tree on your apartment balcony, but you will never sit in its shade.
The aim of bonsai culture is to develop a tiny tree that has all the elements--and
illusion--of a large tree growing in a natural setting. According to a new U.S.
Department of Agriculture publication, "Growing Bonsai," it is possible to create
a presentable bonsai in just a few seasons. The booklet describes the five basic
styles of these lovely and exotic trees; lists trees, shrubs, and other woody
plants suitable for bonsai culture; and gives tips on how to obtain plants. De-
tailed instructions on seasonal care, kinds of containers to use, and how to shape
the plants through branch and root pruning are included. One section suggests
ways to display your bonsai indoors and outside. "Growing Bonsai" (G-206) is
available for 30 cents a copy from the Superintendent of Documents, Government
Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.
llL ERSIT F1IC
3 1262 08740 1070
A NATURAL CHRISTMAS
From All Outdoors. Tall oaks are not the only contributions of tiny acorns. The
little nuts can be turned into unique and lovely Christmas decorations. Making
Christmas decorations from acorns and other plant materials--seed pods, pine cones,
dried plants--found in field and wood can be fun, satisfy your creative instinct,
and provide you with festive and unusual decorations. Tips on making decorations
such as wreaths, pine cone trees, and table centerpeices, are given in a little
fact sheet from USDA. The publication, which has been one of the most popular
offered in SERVICE, has been reprinted with an added attraction a section
on living Christmas trees. This new section gives instructions on how to decorate
a living Christmas tree, how to care for the tree before and after planting, and
some tips on where to plant the tree for beauty all year. For a free copy of the
fact sheet write to SERVICE, Office of Communication, U.S. Department of Agricul-
ture, Washington, D.C. 20250.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN ASKING *
What's Happening To Food Prices? A new slide presentation from the U.S. Depart-
ment of Agriculture asks -- and supplies some answers to -- the same question.
The slide set, also available as a filmstrip, explains in layman's terms factors
in the economic system that caused the rise in food prices over the past two
years. It compares today's food prices with those over the past 20 years, with
increases in costs of other goods and services over the same period, and with
prices in other countries. The presentation also tells what is being done to in-
crease supplies and how long it will take. The 153-frame color slide set is avail-
able for $35 from Photography Division, Office of Communication, U.S. Department
of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20250. The filmstrip is $15 from Photo Lab,
Inc., 3825 Georgia Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20011. Prices include narrative
guide, cassette with sound track for automatic or manual slide changing, and
copies of a companion publication giving more detail.
NOT COFFEE, TEA, OR MILK
But Milk Or Milk Or Milk. Participants in child nutrition programs now have a
choice of the type of milk they drink in schools. Under regulations announced by
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service, children may now be offered lowfat milk, skim
milk, cultured buttermilk, or whole milk. Any of these can be flavored or unfla-
vored. Previously, only fluid whole milk was allowed. All types of milk served,
of course, must meet state and local standards. The change will allow flexibility
in menu planning and will encourage student participation in feeding programs.
The regulations apply to the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Special
Milk, and Special Food Service Programs.
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: Lillie Vincent, Editor of SERVICE,
Office of Communication, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20250.
Telephone (202) 447-5437.
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