Commissioner Putnam shares some Fresh From Florida Recipes for the 4th

Happy 4th of July!

Enjoy these recipes from Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam

Friend,

With Independence Day approaching, many Floridians are planning and preparing for their annual backyard barbecues.

Before you head out to your local grocer or farmers market, take a look at these “Fresh From Florida” recipes that are sure to be a hit at your July 4th celebration.

Sincerely,

Adam

Open Face Watermelon Sandwiches

Open Face Watermelon Sandwiches

Kick off your barbecue with this light and cool starter. There’s nothing more refreshing than Florida watermelon!

Get the Recipe!

Grilled Gator Kabobs

Grilled Gator Kabobs

Switch up your typical backyard barbecue foods with these Florida native kabobs. It’s sure to be a hit this holiday!

Get the Recipe!

Florida Sweet Corn with Southern Barbecue Butter

Florida Sweet Corn with Southern Barbecue Butter

It isn’t a barbecue without corn on the cob, and your favorite barbecue sauce is sure to spice up this side dish.

Get the Recipe!

Happy Independence Day, everybody.

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Happy Independence Day

July 1, 2015

DO have great holiday . . . but Save the Guac, Don’t Pack a Pest and Don’t Move Firewood.

4th of JulyThe Independence Day weekend is one of the year’s most festive and we hope everyone will join family and friends for some good, healthy, all-American fun. Maybe you’re planning on scalloping in northwest Florida waters, swimming or canoeing in a spring, camping or otherwise enjoying the good things Florida offers.

watermelon3Some of those good things are edible, and State Executive Chef Justin Timineri has posted some excellent Fresh From Florida recipes here for your dining and snacking pleasure.

 

Just a few minutes’ thought before you join the festivities can ensure your Linusfamily’s safety and protect our environment, so we invite you to browse the department’s collection of on-line consumer resources. Here you can learn how to avoid bringing invasive pests, plants and diseases into Florida or moving them around our state. Remember, invasive pests can hitch rides in luggage, on firewood, on plants or exotic organisms or on vehicles, and once they become established they can threaten crops, human and animal health, landscapes and even structures.

With just a little thoughtful web browsing, you and your family can have a fabulous holiday while protecting our Great American Outdoors.

Happy Fourth of July!

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DPI Diary

June 26, 2015

On the alert for invasive fruit flies

SprayTruck1920sAt Tuesday’s department-wide AgScience Café event, Dr. Tyson Emery, Bureau Chief, Plant and Apiary Inspection, explained how the Division of Plant Industry’s fruit fly detection program monitors constantly for invasive flies. He invited FDACS colleagues to view this department video. He also offered some history of the program, so we pegged Throwback Thursday to his presentation, offering our followers a review of the first major Mediterranean fruit fly outbreak, a major threat to the Florida citrus industry, in 1929.

A sneeze with eyes?

NewGuineaFlatwormWe linked to a Washington Post article noting the presence in Florida of one of the world’s worst invasives, the New Guinea flatworm. (The writer said it “basically looks like a sneeze with eyes.” Do you agree?) Anyhow, while the flatworm poses no direct danger to humans, it consumes native snails wherever it lands. Bryan Benson, Environmental Supervisor at DPI, noted in a post that a scientist with the FDACS’s giant African land snail program found it in Florida in 2012. The worm has also shown up in France — causing some alarm in culinary circles there, as you might imagine.

Don’t Pack a Pest team at MIA

DPAP postcardOur team of videographers was at Miami International Airport this week capturing new video of agricultural detector dogs in action. The resulting video will further promote Don’t Pack a Pest, an international program administered by FDACS that educates international travelers about the dangers of transporting invasives in agricultural items in luggage. More on that at www.dontpackapest.com

What’s fresh?

watermelon3The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported some delicious news we can all use: Watermelons are at season peak this week. Enjoy! Also coming to market are Florida avocados, so make sure there’s some guac in your future. One way you can do that is to avoid moving firewood when you travel or camp. Save the Guac.

Congratulations, Mr. Story

A leader in Florida’s citrus industry, Victor B. Story, Jr., has been named 2015 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Florida Farmer of the Year. Story is President and Chairman of the Board of The Story Companies, past president of Polk County Farm Bureau and Florida Citrus Mutual, and previous vice chair of the Florida Citrus Commission. Story has received numerous previous recognitions for his many agriculture industry and civic contributions. Story will now compete against nine other state winners for the 2015 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year title, which will be awarded in October during the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga.  More here.

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Remembering Florida’s first major Mediterranean fruit fly eradication program

This week, Dr. Tyson Emery, Bureau Chief, Plant and Apiary Inspection, Division of Plant Industry, reviewed the Plant Industry Fruit Fly Program for the employees of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The fruit fly detection and control program is a model for other states. In his presentation, Dr. Emery reviewed the long history of the program, which began when that is now the Division of Plant Industry was known as the State Plant Board.

During his presentation, Dr. Emery reviewed the history of fruit fly eradication programs in Florida. The state’s first Medfly eradication program began in 1929 after a state nursery inspector found maggots in grapefruit near Orlando. Shortly afterward, tell-tale fruit drop was observed in an Orlando grapefruit grove. The pest was positively  identified as Mediterranean fruit fly.

State and federal agencies threw all available forces into the eradication work. Where flies were detected, host plants were destroyed, infested areas were sprayed and fruit was stripped from infested groves and destroyed.

SprayTruck1920s

Spray trucks were used in 1929 Medfly eradication.

A quarantine was imposed to stop the movement of material from infested areas. National Guardsmen enforced the quarantine at checkpoints on major highways. Movement of host fruits and vegetables from Florida in to 18 Southern and Western states was restricted.

By the time the Medfly was finally declared eradicated in 1930, the program had cost about $7.5 million. Florida would be Medfly-free for the next quarter century, but officials would institute other Medfly eradication programs in the 1950s and 1990s.

Today, as Dr. Emery explained in his presentation, the FDACS Division of Plant Industry remains ever-vigilant. Our inspectors and those from USDA monitor fly traps on a regular basis and follow a strict protocol when suspect flies are found.

We’ll recall later eradication programs on future TBTs.

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DPI Diary

June 19, 2015

Today, let’s think about pollinators. We depend on them for our food and fiber. And they need our help.

It’s National Pollinator Week

Our Apiary chief, David Westervelt, happened to mention to us that, on Monday,  25 new beekeepers had registered with the division. That’s one more sign that Florida’s apiary industry is flourishing, as we explained in a recent blog post. It was also a great factoid to kick off National Pollinator Week.

Honeybee on orange flowerOur social media team embraced National Pollinator Week and invited our friends and followers to do so as well. We found a telling quote from a USDA official that answers the question, “What can we all do to support the pollinators we depend on for our food?”

“It’s so easy to help pollinators, and we need to act now,” said AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo. “Even a small garden, like a window box filled with native plants that bloom during the spring, summer, and fall, will make a difference for bees and other pollinators.”

More information about how to “Plant a Window Box for Pollinators,” as well as other resources, including pollinator-friendly garden blogs and videos, is available at www.usda.gov/peoplesgarden.

Woops!

Olive fruit fly. (Photo courttest UF/IFAS)

This is a fly, not a bee. Big difference!

One of our Facebook friends was a understandably put out when she posted: “I really wish all these “professional” organizations working on “saving the bees” would stop putting pictures of flies on the front cover. geez, a little fact-checking please.” You can bet we’re going to look at our art at least twice when we blog about bees in the future!

You can do a lot with a Florida avocado

AvocadoCrabSaladAre Florida avocados different from the others you find in your store? You bet!

We explained in a blog post hailing the opening of avocado season in the Sunshine State.

We couldn’t resist including some recipes from Chef Justin and pointing to one of our videos that explains the challenges to the industry posed by the laurel wilt disease and the redbay ambrosia beetle that transports the disease. Here’s a link to the videos and an explanation of the Safe the Guac Campaign.

Entomology and Nematology News is on-line

Colleagues at UF-IFAS published Entomology and Nematology News this week and we passed the link along.

Bee Research Symposium set for July

We’re reminding everyone about the first Annual Florida Bee Research Symposium set for July 15-16 at Austin Cary Memorial Forest north of Gainesville. Bee researchers from across the state and region will discuss important industry topics, and the event is open to obeservers. All of the information you need to know about registering for and attending the event can be found here.

And don’t forget the South Florida Bee College

Beekeepers: Put it on your calendar! South Florida Bee College Aug. 14-5 at UF Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab, Ft. Lauderdale. Click here for details.

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savetheguaciconcopyFlorida Avocados are appearing at local supermarkets and farmers’ markets. It is easy to distinguish a Florida avocado from the Hass avocados produced in California. Florida avocados are larger, and unlike the Hass variety, most of the Florida fruits generally do not become dark in color as they ripen. The skin of Florida avocados is smooth and green whereas the California variety has a bumpy skin.

GuacFans look forward to the Florida harvest, which begins in June. Sounding a bit like wine connoisseurs, avocado aficionados have described the flavor of the Florida fruit as displaying “subtle notes of grass and nuts, such as almonds and filberts.” Pairings include citrus, tomatoes, salt, herbs like cilantro and basil and fresh, aged and blooming rind style cheeses. It’s a fruit that’s fun to experiment with in the kitchen.

Although commercial production is limited to a region in Miami-Dade County, avocado production makes a substantial economic contribution to the Sunshine State’s economy.

State Chef Justin Timieri with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has posted some enticing recipes starring Florida avocados, like this soup (we prefer it served cold), and this Florida blue crab and avocado salad, which is almost as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate.

AvocadoCrabSaladUnfortunately, Florida avocados are under attack from laurel wilt disease, spread by the invasive redbay ambrosia beetle. The beetle introduces a fungus into host trees. This threat to an important Florida crop has led to the Save the Guac campaign. You can learn more about the disease and the campaign — and see Chef Timieri actually make a batch of guac — here.

You can also help retard the spread of the redbay ambrosia beetle and the disease by the simple act of not moving firewood when you travel or camp, and purchasing only certified firewood at your destination.

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DPI Diary

June 12, 2015

The weather’s heating up and so are our efforts to keep invasive pests at bay. Read about it all in this edition of DPI Diary.

Commissioner vows to continue fight against citrus greening

Division of Plant Industry

Division of Plant Industry

The USDA updated citrus forecast issued this week brought this comment from Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam: “While the citrus forecast remains unchanged from the May announcement, which was the lowest in decades, we will continue to fight to save Florida’s signature crop, its more than $10.7 billion economic impact and the more than 64,000 jobs it supports.”

No more guava fruit flies found in Palm Beach County

After finding two male guava fruit flies in Palm Beach County on May 28, Commissioner Adam H. Putnam announced that no additional fruit flies have been found. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services increased trapping following the discovery last week.

Do you subscribe to USDA Week in Review?

This USDA weekly video does a nice job of summarizing some of the grassroots activities taking place in U.S. agriculture. Take four minutes or so and give it a look. (Pay special attention to the middle schoolers snacking on mealworms.)

Bee Research Symposium scheduled for July 15-16

honeybeepollination1Florida’s first ever Bee Research Symposium will be held 15 – 16 July in Gainesville. The meeting will bring together bee researchers from across the state and region to discuss topics related to the study of bees. Presenters must register online, submit an abstract, and indicate whether they want the presentation to be delivered orally or via poster. Observers can register online. Details here.

Plan to attend the South Florida Bee College

Our tweet said it all:

ATTN Beekeepers: South Florida #Bee College Aug. 14-5 at UF Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab, Ft. Lauderdale http://bit.ly/1dwVWC3

Save the Guac . . . made with Florida avocados, of course

GuacSomething else to watch for this month: Florida avocados, and our video showing how to make the best guacamole. Florida ‘cados are making their way to your supermarket and farmers market . .  . and they’re delicious. They are also endangered by the laurel wilt disease, spread by the redbay ambrosia beetle. Help keep the beetle at bay. “Don’t Move Firewood” when you travel or camp.

Linus says “Don’t Pack a Pest”

Linus the Dector DogIt’s vacation season and as you travel internationally, please heed the request of Linus, the agriculture detector dog who is the face of the Don’t Pack a Pest program. Learn about the program and what products are allowed in luggage at www.dontpackapest.com

Video of a “ghastly gastropod”

KillerSnailsOne of our own staff called our attention to a dramatic video by the History Channel that  summarized the FDACS giant African land snail eradication program in South Florida. You can read our comment on the video here. Our inspectors, aided by our canine team, have collected 157,000 snails since they were detected in residential neighborhoods of Miami-Dade County in August 2011, and we continue to rely on the public to watch for suspected snails and report them to our helpline, 1-888-397-1517.

Throwback Thursday very colorful this week

This Thursday we threw our friends and followers a colorful bit of citrus history in the form of the old-fashioned crate labels. During the first half of the century, citrus fruit was shipped in wooden crates and each grower/packer pasted their unique, colorful label on the ends. Those labels are collector’s items now.

CitrusLabelCrackerGirl CitrusLabelFull

 

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