Here’s the full story:
Every 5 years the US dietary guidelines are updated. And what goes into those guidelines informs the $16 billion school lunch program, WIC, and other institutional procurement standards nationally. Every 5 years an independent science panel recommends what should be updated in the guidelines- then there is a short public review period which typically involves industries advocating for their special interests “more sugar!” “more beef!” etc., while citizens remain uninformed and their voices never heard by the government agencies that decide on the final guidelines.
This year, for the first time ever, the science committee recommended considering the sustainability of the dietary patterns promoted by the dietary guidelines, for the sake of food security to feed our country healthfully today and in the future. This is an unprecedented and welcome change!
But Big Ag has pushed back saying there is no place for sustainability language in the dietary guidelines. The livestock industry have been mobilizing their membership to place comments protecting their interests, and working against that of the public, by objecting to the inclusion of sustainability, as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.
Over the next few months a political process will take place behind closed doors to define what will be in our dietary guidelines. But we as citizens have one last chance to have our voices heard! We can submit a public comment directly to the HHS and USDA by May 8th.
Here's the comment I just submitted:
PLEASE do not overlook the environment when considering dietary guidelines! The earth is our sole storehouse of food -- ignoring that we need to eat tomorrow and for years to come, as well as today, is not just short-sided, it's counterproductive to dietary guidelines.
MAKE SURE TO include dietary advice on health and the environment in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as recommended in the 2015 Scientific Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The science is clear, 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, less resource intensive, and is associated with less environmental impact.
Although we humans like to think of ourselves otherwise, we are part of the planetary ecosystem, and we are overwhelming it with our sheer numbers. To have a secure future, we must start being conscious of how we are degrading the planet's long term ability to provide for our needs, and to curb our appetites and to shift towards more sustainable choices in diet. We cannot afford to wait until the oceans are devoid of life and the climate is radically destabilized to realize that what's on our plates has a huge effect on what goes on with the planet -- and vice versa!
Any homo sapiens sapiens worthy of the title would realize that WE HAVE TO STOP EATING LIKE THERE'S NO TOMORROW IF WE WANT MORE TOMORROWS!