American Dietary Guidelines & Sustainability



The American Dietary Guidelines were officially released for the next five years (2015-2020) and there is a lot of information to go through considering the fact that nutrition research is always changing how we view food.  I might end up breaking these into a few different posts as I find interesting changes, but the biggest interest I found was that the USDA openly stated that sustainability would not be a factor in these guidelines, even though the data was requested in 2010.

I understand what both sides said.  I understand the concern, as stated in the above article:

Merrigan argues that “by acknowledging benefits of sustainability, the government would open itself up to greater demand for sustainability investments and would signal to consumers that such foods are preferred.”  

I understand that the government may not want to openly show favor to certain foods that could change the balance of how things are now.  But by putting yourself out there from the beginning as a source of nutritional recommendations, you are in fact ‘signaling’ to consumers what foods are preferred.  Ever notice how the recommendations often mention both meat and dairy (not protein source and beverage source)?

But sustainability issues are not just raised with beef and dairy, as many expect.  There is the issue of almonds, too.  And if it truly is about farming responsibly and caring for animals consciously, no mass food source should be left out of the questioning.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s plate.  (A different ‘plate’ response.)

Johns Hopkin’s Sustainability in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines: What the Advisory Committee Really Said, and Why USDA and HHS Should Listen (If you are only going to read one article about this, read this one.)

So what does this mean for the little guy?  What can we do to live intentionally concerning our food?  We can grow our own, we can purchase locally, we can join garden-mobs or food co-ops.  We can learn more about farming techniques that incorporate the entire ecosystem, like biodynamic farming.  We can learn about different ways to cook foods that are healthful, filling, and not wasteful.  And most importantly, we can learn about these things without them becoming idols in our lives, so that we do not become enslaved to a specific diet or plan.  We can be free by growing for ourselves and getting involved in our community, and by carrying around the knowledge that you are consciously doing the best you can.

USDA’s healthy plate
Harvard’s healthy plate