The government is now telling Americans what to eat with the new food guidelines which includes things like decreasing the fats and eating more vegetables. But the best food recommendations are those which consider how these food choices react with the environment.
As per some researchers, the latest dietary recommendations completely ignore the environment factor. The 2016-2020 dietary recommendation lists has got just one thing at its focus and that is – balance. The list suggests more veggies, leaner meats, particular fishes, and an advice to eat sugar that does not amount to more than 10 percent of your total diet.
Food Guidelines avoid to study the impact on climate
American eating habits have a huge impact on environment as the people here consume more calories per capita than almost any other country in the world. The government dietary guidelines do not help in lowering the climate cost. Miriam Nelson, director of the John Hancock Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention at Tufts University also agrees and says, “Food production is the largest user of freshwater, largest contributor to the loss of biodiversity, and a major contributor to using up natural resources. Especially if you consider that eating less meat, especially red and processed, has health benefits”.
The situation is serious because on its own, plant and animal agriculture contributes 9 percent of all the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. These stats do not include the fuel that is burned in transportation, processing refrigeration etc. Also, greenhouse emissions are not the sole story. David Wallinga, a physician and senior health officer with the National Resources Defense Council says, “On one hand, the USDA is compiling dietary advice. On the other, their clients are US agriculture companies”. He further added, “In previous guidelines, they’ve always been concerned with things like food security—which is presumably the mission of the USDA. You absolutely need to be worried about climate impacts and future sustainability if you want secure food in the future”.
Situation should be handled and addressed soon
The environmental impact will not only lead to climate changes. It will also change the topography and it would be difficult to decide what crop can grow where. It can also turn some of the most prime grazing areas into deserts. The guideline also ignores the facts regarding what sea food should be consumed and from where it should be consumed for best health benefits. Wallinga is equally worried about the long term consequences of these food guidelines.
Last December’s Paris Climate Talks taught all the nations some pretty good lessons. At that moment, many scientists and politicians agreed that meeting any kind of climate change goal will be impossible if we don’t address the agricultural matters along with it. “I think one of the things we had hoped for coming out of Paris was harmonization of policy across different federal departments”, says Nelson. US negotiators also resolved to put in all the efforts for a sustainable future. But the current guideline are not in synchronization with the promises and the state is worrisome.