MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Americans are realizing that better diets lead to better lives, but after making it clear they aren't willing to sacrifice great tastes they've enjoyed for years, the food industry has been compelled to respond.
As many Americans try to form better eating habits, the food industry is using modern technology to ensure healthy foods also taste good.
Dr. Zahur Haque, professor of food technology at Mississippi State University, said Americans started moving away from high fat diets about ten years ago.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The harvest season is approaching for Mississippi's "big three" row crops, and it's been a difficult year for some producers.
"There's a lot of variation in this year's soybean crop," said extension soybean specialist Alan Blaine. "Depending on who you talk to, it's either one of the best ever or one of the worst. On average, the 1997 soybean crop in Mississippi is a good one."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's estimate for the state's soybean crop is about 55 million bushels, up from more than 54 million harvested last year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's corn growers anticipate respectable yields, but they are harvesting about 140,000 fewer acres than in 1996.
"The prices and expectations at planting time were down from 1996," said Dr. Tom Jones, Mississippi State University extension agricultural economist. "Growers planted corn on 490,000 acres in Mississippi this year, compared to 630,000 acres in 1996."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many reduced fat and fat-free foods have become available for consumers during the past few years, but cooks can reduce fat intake simply by altering recipes at home.
"Creative cooks who know which ingredients can be switched around in recipes can significantly alter the fat content in many foods they prepare at home," said Dr. Melissa Mixon, extension nutrition specialist at Mississippi State University.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The average angler fishing along a river probably doesn't realize this pastime is profitable business in Mississippi and a great use of natural resources.
The most recent statistics show that in 1991, anglers spent $236 million to fish in Mississippi, or about $360 a person. This amount includes everything from fishing licenses and bait to equipment, travel expenses and memberships. Sixteen percent of Mississippians fish each year, compared to 14 percent nationwide.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's forestry industry set a production record in 1996 of almost $1.2 billion as actual figures released in July exceeded the previously estimated values.
"Mississippi's forest industry recorded an all-time high for timber production," said Dr. Bob Daniels, extension forestry specialist at Mississippi State University. "Due to a strong fourth quarter, the figures were higher than originally estimated.
"The actual figures of $1.18 billion for 1996 were 7 percent higher than in 1995," Daniels said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi cotton growers have been battling boll weevils for almost 100 years, but the real war is just beginning.
Cotton growers in Mississippi's hill section and south Delta voted last January to join other Southeastern states in an intensive boll weevil eradication program. The effort in the hill section begins the first week of August with aerial spraying of all cotton fields to prevent weevils from entering diapause, the stage of overwinter preparation. South Delta efforts begin in the fall of 1998.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- If the employees are not old enough to drive a car, the law says they should not be allowed to drive a tractor either.
Many youth today, especially in rural areas, obtain their first job experience working on local farms. Agricultural employers need to be aware of how the child labor laws apply to farming and know the stiff penalties levied if they violate these regulations.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most everyone experiences an occasional restless night, but people with persistent sleeping problems may be suffering from a sleep disorder that could threaten their health.
In fact, many deaths attributed to other causes, such as heart disease or traffic accidents, may actually be related to sleep disorders.
Linda Patterson, extension health education specialist at Mississippi State University, said an estimated 30 million Americans have some type of sleep disorder. Most of these remain undiagnosed and untreated.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- If farming is in their blood, an organization new to Mississippi is determined to keep people with disabilities doing what they love.
AgrAbility for Mississippians, funded by the federal extension service as a grant to the Mississippi State University Extension Service and Easter Seals, works to prevent disabilities from taking farming away from farmers. It helps farmers, farm families or farm workers with disabilities function more easily in agriculture.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The inactive lifestyles of many American adults are spreading to children, and as with adults, as it spreads, so do waistlines.
With all the options children face, they often choose watching television or playing video games instead of physical activities. This lack of regular activity forms habits, promotes unhealthy weight gain and hurts future health.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Automobile accidents often are attributed to recklessness, carelessness or even drunkenness, but another dangerous condition often is at fault -- drowsiness.
Sleepy drivers can be just as hazardous as other impaired motorists, but attributing crashes to sleepiness is difficult. Some states do not even have a code for sleepiness on their accident report forms.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- State blueberry farmers raised a record- breaking crop this year, but persistent rains have limited the amount sold as fresh fruit.
Dr. John Braswell, Mississippi State University extension horticulturist, estimated state growers will harvest 5.3 million pounds of blueberries this year. This tops 1995's record 4.6 million pounds. In 1996, a freeze cut the state's harvest to less than 800,000 pounds.
"We've had an excellent crop this year, but because of rains, much of it will be sold as frozen berries rather than fresh," Braswell said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Nationally, wheat growers are harvesting a strong crop, but Mississippi rains prevented state growers from producing a repeat of last year's record high.
Dr. Tom Jones, extension agricultural economist at Mississippi State University, said Mississippi's total production is about 1/3 less than what was produced in 1996.
Last year, Mississippi produced an average of 48 bushels per acre on about 230,000 acres. This year, production dropped substantially to about 39 bushels per acre on 200,000 acres throughout Mississippi.