Growing up most of us learned about the USDA Food Guide Pyramid or the MyPlate diagram and have not thought to not question if they really represent the best way to eat, not only for ourselves but also for the planet. In “USDA doesn’t care if our diets are climate friendly – but Americans do” by John D. Sutter argues that these diagrams are not something we should be basing our eating choices off of the pyramid. Although the pyramid does not actually control the food we eat, Sutter says that they have “a vast and perhaps immeasurable influence”. This month the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it would not consider important factors such as sustainability and climate change, even though it reviews the guidelines and will issue new recommendations later this year. In a blog post, the USDA secretary and the Human Services Secretary wrote that “issues of the environment and sustainability are critically important and they are addressed in a number of initiatives within the administration… We do not believe that the (2015 Dietary Guidelines) are the appropriate vehicle for this important policy conservation about sustainability.” Sutter utterly disagrees with this statement. He believes that our diets affect resource consumption, which in turn contributes to climate change and these are important concerns that should be included in the federal government’s dietary guidelines. Sutter believes that the solutions are simple—eat fewer animal products, especially beef because it leaves a deeper carbon footprint than other meats. For Sutter, moderation is key. Kari Hamerschlag, a senior program manager at Friends of the Earth U.S. said, “It is disappointing to see that the meat industry influence in Congress and over the administration is trumping science and public opinion in the development of the dietary guidelines.” In Food Inc. the connection between the government and the meat industry was discussed. Many government employees were once employees in the meat industry, so they were extremely biased. Although this is very frustrating, America seems to be moving forward. Public pressure to include sustainability in the guidelines may influence policy moving forward—hopefully influencing 2020 recommendations. People are also on average eating less meat. Meat consumption has declined 12% from 2007 to 2012. Food guidelines are constantly changing and not for the right reasons a lot of the time. Many times food guidelines are to benefit the food industries, not the health of the population. In Down to Earth, Steinberg talked about the “Salad Capital of the World”. Railroad tracks were quickly being made, which made it possible for crops to be sent across America. Fruits and vegetables grew in California and because of the railroad, the growers went on to become the richest farmers in the nation. Fruits and vegetables were marketed as the healthy choice and soon everyone wanted the fruits and vegetables. After fruits and vegetables, pork was rising in popularity. After pork, beef dominated. Beef was being produced at impressive speeds due to factory farms. Beef became the “healthy” choice. The meat industry and the FDA has continued to push meat as an important aspect to our dietary needs, but if we want to stop the increase of CO2 into our atmosphere, that can no longer be the case. As a country we need to focus on the science, as opposed to the meat industry’s influence.
CNN: USDA doesn’t care if our diets are climate friendly — but Americans do
Steinberg- Down to Earth and Food Inc. were also referenced