Price Look-Up codes (PLUs) are printed on the small stickers attached to fresh produce at the grocery store. These codes are used to make check-out and inventory control easier for the store. They also tell you key pieces of information about the produce, such as how it was grown.
Conventionally grown food can be identified by a four-digit number, such as 4011 for bananas.
Organic food is identified by a a five-digit number that begins with a nine, such as 94011 for bananas.
Genetically modified food is indicated by a five-digit number that begins with an eight, such as 84805 for a vine ripe tomato.
If the sticker also has the USDA organic seal, then you know it’s been certified by the government through the National Organic Program. To be certified, products must be inspected and meet the USDA regulations. Learn more about organic label.
Summer heat can bring wildfires. If you live in an area where they are common, there are steps you can take to minimize damage.
The best thing you can do is use fire resistant building materials. If this isn’t possible, be sure to remove flammable materials, such as leaves, from your roof and store gasoline away from occupied buildings.
Image description: U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program rifle shooter Sgt. Vincent Hancock became the first shotgun shooter to win consecutive Olympic gold medals in men’s skeet. Photo from the Department of Defense.
Sixteen members of the United States Military are members of the 2012 U.S.A. Olympic team this summer in London. The Army, Marine Corps and Navy all have members who have qualified for different events, such as wrestling, fencing, the men’s 50m rifle prone and more.
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Sandra Uptagrafft is the only woman representing the U.S. Military in the 2012 Olympics. She competed in the women’s 10m air pistol and women’s 25m pistol events.
Army Olympian Staff Sgt. John Nunn taught Americans how to race walk on NBC’s “Today” show. Nunn and his Olympic teammate, Maria Michta, spent an afternoon teaching the program’s cast members. After some practice, NBC broadcasters Al Roker, Matt Lauer and Ryan Seacrest joined Nunn for a lap around the track.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Anyone can get skin cancer, but some people are at increased risk due to a combination of genetic factors and behaviors. Learn more about this potentially deadly cancer and what you can do to decrease your risk:
Risk Factors — Sun exposure, family history, and certain medical conditions are among the many risk factors.
Adolescent health spans many areas, from mental, physical and reproductive health to substance abuse to relationships. The choices made and behaviors adopted during these years affect adolescents’ overall wellbeing and, potentially, their health throughout their lives.
Hotel Internet Networks Could Install Malware on Your Computer
Travelers abroad are at risk for malicious software being installed on their computers through internet networks at hotels, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
In most instances, a pop up window appears and asks the traveler to update a well known computer program. Once clicked, malicious software is installed on the laptop.
The FBI recommends to those traveling abroad that they should take extra precaution before updating their computer programs. Try and perform program updates before you leave home, instead of from the hotel. If your computer is attacked, contact your local FBI office and report it on IC3.gov.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conducts the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey of about 15,000 U.S. high school students every two years. Dangerous behavior continues to drop in many key areas, but it is up in some others.
The percentage of high school students who…
Never or rarely wore a seatbelt declined from 26% to 8% from 1991 to 2011.
Rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol during the past 30 days declined from 40% to 24% from 1991 to 2011.
Had driven a car during the past 30 days after drinking alcohol decreased from 17% in 1997 to 8% in 2011.
Alcohol remains the most commonly used drug among high school students.
1 in 3 high school students reported drinking alcohol in 2011
1 in 5 reported binge drinking in 2011
And yet, both groups have decreased by over ten percent since the late 1990s.
Marijuana use has…
Decreased slightly from 27% in 1999 to 23% in 2011.
Become more common than cigarette use (18%).
The use of technology among youth has resulted in new risks…
1 in 3 high school students had texted or e-mailed while driving a car or other vehicle during the past 30 days.
1 in 6 had been bullied through email, chat rooms, instant messaging, websites, or texting during the past 12 months.
Summertime can bring a range of weather challenges and potential dangers. Some of these threats can occur with little warning, so do what you can to prepare by assembling an emergency kit and forming a plan of action.
Find out what you should do if faced with the following weather dangers:
In the U.S., lightning kills more people each year than tornadoes and hurricanes. If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance and should seek shelter in an enclosed building or vehicle. While indoors, don’t use a corded phone, a computer or other electrical appliances; and avoid contact with plumbing (don’t shower, wash hands, do laundry, etc.). Learn more about lightning safety and get tips on what to do if you’re outdoors during a thunderstorm.
If you have time, move essential items to an upper floor. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water. Do not walk through moving water that is six inches or higher. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground. Learn more about what to do before, during, and after a flood.
If you can’t evacuate, get inside and secure external and internal doors. Stay away from windows and doors and take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level. Learn more about what to do before, during, and after a hurricane.
Storm cellars and basements are the safest locations, but if they aren’t available, go to an interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level. Stay away from windows, doors, outside walls, and corners. If you are in a trailer or mobile home, go to a sturdy, nearby building. Learn more about what to do before, during, and after a tornado.
Stay indoors as much as possible. Consider spending the hottest part of the day in an air-conditioned public building, such as a library or shopping mall. Never leave children or pets alone in vehicles. Learn more about what to do in extreme heat.
If you are indoors, stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls and get under a sturdy table or desk. If you are outside, keep away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires. If you’re in a moving vehicle, safely stop the vehicle in an open area and stay inside. Learn more about what to do before, during, and after an earthquake.
Don't Move Firewood: Use Local Firewood When Camping
If you’re going camping this summer, don’t bring firewood with you. Tree-killing insects and diseases can lurk in firewood. These insects and diseases can’t move far on their own, but when people move firewood they can jump hundreds of miles.
New infestations of invasive species destroy our forests, property values, and cost huge sums of money to control.
You can help save the forests by taking these simple steps:
Buy firewood near where you will burn it—that means the wood was cut within 50 miles of where you’ll have your fire.
Always leave it at home, even if you think the firewood looks fine. Wood that looks clean and healthy can still have tiny insect eggs, or microscopic fungi spores, that will start a new and deadly infestation.
Aged or seasoned wood is still not safe. Just because it is dry doesn’t mean that bugs can’t crawl onto it.
Tell your friends not to bring wood with them—everyone needs to know that they should not move firewood.
Learn the Benefits of Breastfeeding and Get Your Free Guide
Did you know that babies who are breastfed during the first year of life save their families $1500 in formula costs?
These babies also have lower overall healthcare costs, since they are less likely to get infections and illnesses. Breastfeeding can help protect against ear infections, stomach viruses, obesity, asthma, diabetes and several other health problems.
Under the Affordable Care Act, most health insurance plans will now provide women with access to breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling with no out-of-pocket costs.
This week is World Breastfeeding Week, and we partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health to help raise awareness about the health benefits of breastfeeding.
With the Breastfeeding Resources Action Kit you can:
learn the physical benefits of breastfeeding for kids and moms,
discover the financial benefits of breastfeeding for families, employers, and communities,
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the agency in charge of setting up an application process. It should be up and running sometime in mid-August. Meanwhile, don’t apply or your application will be rejected.
USCIS recommends you follow these tips:
Visit www.uscis.gov to learn more about the announcement, eligibility criteria and to find the latest updates.
Contact USCIS for more information at 1-800-375-5283.
Where can I go to find low-cost senior rental housing?
Asked by an anonymous Tumblr user.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a number of resources to help seniors find affordable rentals.
They offer a low rent apartment search that shows low-rent apartments for senior citizens and people with disabilities, as well as for families and individuals. For low rent apartments, the government gives funds directly to the apartment owners. There is an income limit to qualify.
You can also look for multifamily units by state that rent to seniors and people with disabilities. HUD does not provide details like eligibility, waiting list information, or types of accessible features for these properties, but the list can help you identify potential rentals in your area.
There’s also the public housing program and public housing choice vouchers, commonly called Section 8. Public housing comes in all sizes and types and is managed by local housing agencies that are funded by the federal government. Public housing choice vouchers allow you to find a private rental and the government pays the landlord directly to subsidize the rent. Both programs are limited to low-income families and individuals.
Share your photos of federal lands and historic sites and you could win $15,000, your photo on the 2014 Annual Federal Recreation Lands Pass, and your own Annual Federal Recreation Lands Pass. You have until the end of the year to enter so be sure to take some photos this summer.
August is the time when parents across the country get their children ready for the new school year. It’s a good time to get the kids up to date with their immunizations, and to buy the supplies they need for school.
In the rush to get everything ready for their kids, parents might forget that they might benefit from going back to school too. The federal government offers affordable adult education classes and programs throughout the United States.
Most classes and programs are free, and are offered in locations like community centers, public schools and community colleges. Government-sponsored adult education classes include:
GED preparation. A GED diploma is equivalent to a high school diploma and is essential for getting a better job. Several adult education programs offer prep classes to help you get a GED diploma. These programs teach basic algebra, physics, civics, and history and are ideal for people who didn’t finish high school. You can find the nearest GED testing center by typing in your ZIP code at gedtestingservice.com.
Career and technical education. Adult education classes and programs can also help you get practical education and training through work certifications. You can take classes on plumbing, office administration, electronics, mechanics, carpentry, health and even computers. Some of these classes are developed with local employers to help students develop skills that local employers need.
English classes. These classes are designed for adults who want to learn how to speak, read or write in English. There are courses for beginners and advanced students, but also for native speakers who would like to improve their English skills. If you enroll in these classes you might have to take a test to determine your level of proficiency. These classes offer flexible schedules to accommodate people who work and have family obligations.
Education orientation and help for disabled students. Adult education schools are staffed with counselors who can help students figure out which classes to take and which certifications may help them get a better job. They also have tools to help people with disabilities access classes and programs to take full advantage of the resources available.
Many children receive free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch at school, but what happens when school lets out? The Summer Food Service Program helps fill that nutrition gap and make sure children can get the nutritious meals they need.
If you are flying within the U.S., you do not need to fill out any forms. There are forms that apply to international travel.
Each individual traveling to the U.S. from another country must complete a customs declaration form. If you’re traveling with immediate family members, then you only need to fill out one form per family.
After your flight lands in the U.S., you will present the form(s) and be inspected by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer. They prevent terrorists, people with outstanding criminal warrants, narcotics, agricultural pests, and smuggled goods from entering the United States.
As with the rest of your family, it’s important to plan for your pet before, during and after a natural disaster. While making emergency plans for your family, make sure you know of the pet friendly hotels and shelters in your area, so that if a disaster does occur, you know which places will accept your pet.
You should have an emergency kit planned and ready to go for your family that also includes important things for your pet, like food, medications, veterinary records and other supplies that may not be available later.
If you are evacuated from your home, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) suggests that you take your pets with you. Most pets cannot survive on their own if left behind, and if they do, they are often lost after you return to your home.
Making sure your pet has a secure tag with up-to-date information could help your pet be returned to you if you get separated later on.
American Beaches Receive Ratings on Cleanliness and Safety
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) rated 200 popular beaches across the United States on a 5 star scale. Criteria for the NRDC’s rating scale include testing the water weekly, notifying the public promptly when tests reveal unsafe bacteria levels, and posting closings and advisories both online and at the beach.
Beaches that achieved 5 stars had exceptionally low violation rates and strong testing and safety practices. Of the 200 beaches, only 13 were given the highest possible rating of 5 stars.
Learn about the ADA and Other Protections for People with Disabilities
Today marks the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – landmark legislation that advanced the civil rights of people with disabilities throughout the nation.
However, the ADA is only one of many laws that ensure equal access for everyone. Other examples include the Assistive Technology Act, Fair Housing Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
More than 54 million people in the United States live with a disability of some kind, be it sensory, physical, intellectual, developmental, emotional or mental.
Disability.gov, the federal government website for comprehensive information on disability programs and services in communities nationwide, offer hundreds of resources on protecting your civil rights.
As part of this effort, we ran a poll asking: What helps you most when money is tight? 5,352 of you responded:
Credit cards/loans 20%
Government assistance 15%
With 64 percent of you stating that savings, credit cards, and loans are the resources you turn to in tough times, we know we need to continue providing information on those topics.
Given that only 15 percent of you turn to government assistance in tough times, we want to make sure you know about benefits that could help you.
Government assistance comes in different forms—from unemployment checks and food assistance to credit counseling and medical treatment. The resources we’ve highlighted on our Help for Difficult Financial Times page are meant to guide you in finding such assistance. These are some of the most popular resources:
Find a Job – Find a resume builder, get employment assistance, and search for jobs.
Manage Your Debt – Learn about the steps you can take to get debt under control.
Although our six-week campaign to highlight Help for Difficult Financial Times has ended, we know that your struggles may continue. We will keep updating the tools and information we provide to help you get back on your feet.
While hundreds of Olympic athletes are representing America in the 2012 Olympics in London this summer, the White House is sponsoring a “Let’s Move! Olympic Fun Day Meetup” all across America.
On Saturday, July 28th, the first day of the summer Olympics, communities across the country will participate in Olympic-inspired games and activities that promote the 2012 events as well as get people active. The Lets Move! campaign wants to help get Americans moving and having fun in honor of the Olympics kick off.
Find Answers to Your Questions About Dealing with Difficult Times
If you’re looking for answers or resources to help in times of need, the Ask program from USDA eXtension may be able to help.
The Ask program lets you submit a specific question and then find answers that could help. If you can’t find an answer in the extensive database of frequently asked questions, you can submit your question to an expert and receive an answer within 48 hours.
Experts are available to answer your questions on a variety of topics including: