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Meet the Radicals Creating the New Federal Dietary Guidelines

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  • Meet the Radicals Creating the New Federal Dietary Guidelines

    Meet the Radicals Creating the New Federal Dietary Guidelines
    Environmentalism creeps into food policy


    BY: Elizabeth Harrington
    March 12, 2014 2:14 pm

    The federal committee crafting the 2015 “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” features radical nutritionists who favor Americans moving to “plant-based” diets and a vice chair that laughs about sending Ronald McDonald to the guillotine.

    The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) is responsible for creating new nutrition standards that are used to create policy at the federal level. The committee will meet for the third time on Friday, and though the group has not yet released an agenda, past meetings have heavily focused on climate change.

    During DGAC’s second meeting on Jan. 13, Kate Clancy, a food systems consultant and Senior Fellow in the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Minnesota, was brought to speak on “sustainability.”

    “After 30 years of waiting, the fact that this committee is addressing sustainability issues brings me a lot of pleasure,” she began. Clancy went on to advocate that Americans should become vegetarians in order to achieve sustainability in the face of “climate change.”

    “What pattern of eating best contributes to food security and the sustainability of land air and water?” Clancy asked. “The simple answer is a plant-based diet.”

    “Now, this is not new, this idea of how important plant-based diets are has been around for, gosh, 30-40 years,” she said. “Before that for people who long ago were eating vegetarian.”

    Clancy said plant-based diets lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and have a “smaller ecological impact” on “drought, climate change, soil erosion, pesticides and antibiotics in water supplies.”

    “In terms of keeping a broader idea of food security in your minds it would be perilous, I would think, for this committee or anybody else to not be taking climate change into account in any of the deliberations about sustainability,” she said.

    Clancy said beef production is the “greatest concern.”

    Meat production is harmful to the environment because of manure runoff and “methane production by cattle,” she said, which has “a much stronger effect on climate change than carbon dioxide does per unit of methane.”

    Following the talk, Dr. Miriam Nelson, a member of the DGAC committee, thanked Clancy for her “really, really wonderful presentation.”

    “I think the good news here, in my mind, is that when we look at actually the current dietary guidelines—with the exception of fish, because I think fish is an issue—really we are talking about eating more plants, fewer animals,” she said.

    Nelson is DGAC’s work group lead for “Environmental Determinants of Food, Diet, and Health.” She said eating less meat could lower Americans’ carbon footprint.

    “Eating fewer animals, but choosing those wisely, and reducing sugar, refined grains, things like that, that diet that we already have stated from the evidence, if we were to get Americans to eat it, would actually have a lower footprint than what we are currently doing,” Nelson said.

    Nelson is a nutrition professor at Tufts University and founder of the “Strong Women Initiative,” which seeks to drive “social change by empowering women to be agents of change in the area of nutrition, physical activity, and obesity prevention.”
    Good luck feeding 7 billion without also allowing them to have 60% of their diets composed of grains. News flash - most people outside of rural areas don't eat large amounts of vegetable matter. They grains, cereals, and beans.

    Refining grains doesn't do much one way or another when it comes to obesity and other lifestyle diseases. Brown rice and white rice have virtually identical glycemic index numbers, ditto for whole wheat versus cake flour. I might like homemade multigrain sourdough bread (I'm baking some now) but I don't kid myself about the nutrition either way.

    If you want to tackle lifestyle issues you'd have make the population cook from scratch and hike all food prices across the board to what they were prior to WWII. Those small portions, Sunday meat traditions, and virtuous soups were all about access and finance.

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