• Discovering the Fibers of Agricultural Science

ARS’s Impact on Our Lives

ARS in Your Pizza

Great pizza needs great ingredients! Did you know that two of those were developed by ARS?

The oblong-shaped Roma (or "plum") tomato was developed in 1955 in Beltsville, MD, by ARS scientist William Porte. It was bred from the San Marzano and Red Top varieties to resist wilt and pests and grow well in different climates. But it also has a heavy, fleshy outer wall that makes it perfect for making sauces for pizza and spaghetti. And it contains lycopene, a nutrient with anticancer properties.

Mozzarella cheese is gooey and tasty topping for pizza, but it adds fat. ARS scientists in Wyndmoor, PA, invented a technology for making lower-fat mozzarella cheese that retains its stretchy, meltable texture and delicious flavor. They did this by modifying the network of the milk protein casein. The cheese has been widely used in school lunch programs since 1995.

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Can Baby Food Affect Your Health As An Adult?

Do you ever wonder what the future holds? No, we’re not talking about staring into crystal balls or reading tea leaves. A scientist in Houston, TX, has stumbled onto the answer of how what you eat at certain stages of life may determine your future health, and it’s call epigenetics.

Robert Waterland, professor of pediatrics-nutrition at the ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine, found a naturally occurring process in which DNA molecules are modified in ways that affect gene expression – including genes that regulate the body’s ability to use sugar. This premature epigenetic process may help explain how overnutrition during infancy increases the risk of diabetes later in life.

Waterland said we still have a lot to learn about these complex processes, but one promising insight is that this might present opportunities for pharmacological interventions to slow or even reverse epigenetic aging, if we can understand it.

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Invasion of the Air Potato!

The plot could have come from Hollywood — an insidious alien invader threatens to overrun the land, but intrepid scientists discover a secret weapon in the far-off, exotic land of Nepal and bring the pestilence to heel. But this is not fiction; it’s true.

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What is Photosynthesis?

Really-Good-For-You Health Bars

Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals we need in small amounts for best health. ARS researchers helped formulate a tasty fruit-based bar with specific micronutrients and other health-promoting ingredients. Study participants who ate two bars a day for 8 weeks had improvements in several health indicators without making any other dietary changes. Learn more.