UC Food Observer has previously shared information about the nation’s 2015 Dietary Guidelines, which will be released later this year by the USDA. The guidelines are expected to explicitly link environmental health with human health, and also suggest that Americans reduce their consumption of meat, particularly beef. (See the “Related Stories” section at the end of this article). The Dietary Guidelines are reviewed and published every five years, and greatly influence many aspects of American life.

It’s always an interesting exercise to consider what other nations think about American food policy, so we’re linking you today to a piece from The Guardian.

Garret Hering reports:

“The reason to include sustainable diets, a new area to [the committee], is to recognize the significant impact of foods and beverages on environmental outcomes,” explained Miriam Nelson, a professor at Tufts University who heads the subcommittee on sustainability and safety.

But there is push back against this notion. A new industry-backed group called the “Back to Balance Coalition” has formed to challenge the kinds of changes being considered.

“Chase Adams, a spokesman for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, declined to comment on the possible impact of the committee’s recommendations on the beef industry. He did, however, suggest that the report overshot its purview.

“Production practices are not a part of the dietary guidelines as authorized by Congress,” Adams said, referring to the year-end appropriations bill, in which Congress directed Secretary Vilsack to address only direct dietary information, not “extraneous factors”, in the guidelines.”

But many, including thought leader Michael Pollan, welcome the notion that the federal government might incorporate sustainability into food policy.

“Our health is not bound by our bodies but reflects the health of the entire food chain from which we eat,” Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, told the Guardian. “Many people don’t yet think of their eating as their most powerful impact on the environment, but it is and this would serve as a salutary reminder.”

While it’s not noted in The Guardian piece, Brazil adopted dietary guidelines in 2014 that consider the environment.


Related Stories:

Climate concerns may influence nutrition policy