Thursday, May 14, 2015

For the First Time, the Government Might Officially Link Diet to the Environment

Cows (Credit: Shutterstock) Click to Enlarge.
This year, the federal government could advise Americans to consider the environment when deciding what they should make for dinner — a prospect that’s already drawn the ire of the meat industry.

We all remember the Food Pyramid.  Well, now it’s officially been re-purposed into MyPlate, but the gist is still the same — to provide people guidelines for a healthy, balanced diet.  In February, the advisory committee responsible for coming up with recommendations for the federal government’s dietary guidelines — a document that supplements MyPlate, providing more detail on healthy diets — included environmental sustainability in its report.  That means that, for the first time, the federal government might include sustainability in its official dietary guidelines, which are set to be released this fall.

“A diet higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in calories and animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with less environmental impact than is the current U.S. diet,” the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) report states.  It continues: “Current evidence shows that the average U.S. diet has a larger environmental impact in terms of increased greenhouse gas emissions, land use, water use, and energy use, compared to the above dietary patterns.”

This is a big deal for environmentalists and others concerned about climate change, because agriculture — especially meat production — is a major source of the carbon dioxide emissions that drive climate change.  Since the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, which are responsible for putting together the U.S. Dietary Guidelines every five years, use the DGAC’s report when determining what will go into the guidelines, sustainability might make it into the official guidelines.  But the USDA and HHS aren’t explicitly required to include all the points from the report in their guidelines, and the meat industry has made no secret of its opposition to the proposed change.  So now the question remains: will the government formally acknowledge environmental impact in its updated dietary guidelines, or will it leave the data out — a move the meat industry is pushing hard for?

Read more at For the First Time, the Government Might Officially Link Diet to the Environment

No comments:

Post a Comment