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Online Agricultural Research Service Crammed With Useful Info - 2004-10-02

The U.S. Department of Agriculture operates one of the world's largest food research programs, the Agricultural Research Service, or ARS, and the fruits of its efforts - plus much more - are featured online at

"We actually have over 2,100 scientists in over 100 locations in the United States, plus we have overseas locations, and if you can think of a subject that has to do with agriculture or human nutrition, no matter how strange it may seem, we probably have somebody who's working on it, so you can probably find research about it on our website," says Sandy Miller Hays is the director of information for the Agricultural Research Service. The ARS website tends to focus on issues facing American farmers, but much of the information is valuable to farmers and ranchers and fishers worldwide. And the wealth of nutrition information available on the site should be of interest to people no matter where on the planet they live.

"On our website we have one particular publication that's just online, it's called the Food and Nutrition Research Briefs, and this is the very latest information coming out about things that, you know, would be very useful to people who are concerned about their health, about what they eat, what they shouldn't eat, that type of thing," she says.

The website includes the latest on food research conducted by government scientists, some of which is presented as video news reports. "Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service have isolated a group of compounds from cinnamon that could help create products for lowering blood sugar levels," she says. Most of the site is in English, but there's also information in Spanish, and you can subscribe to e-mail newsletters in both languages.

Another special feature, explains Sandy Miller Hays, is called Science for Kids. "Our goal is to get youngsters in this country interested in science, agriculture, [and] engineering," she says. "So we created Science for Kids basically taking the same type of information we provide to adults, and saying to kids, 'hey, this is really cool'."

So if you farm - or if you eat - you might find some really cool things at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.