New 2015 Dietary Guidelines Ignore Sustainability

Kiss sustainability goodbye when it comes to the new 2015 Dietary Guidelines.

According to a statement made on Tuesday, Oct 6, by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell, sustainability will not be included because they don’t believe that the new guidelines are the “appropriate vehicle for this important policy conversation.”

Instead, they conclude the blog post by stating, “With these guidelines, we can empower Americans to take control of their health – for their families and themselves.”

This is tragic example of our fragmented thinking about health and well-being. The footprint of our current food system is massive. If how we produce our food, including livestock, is one of the largest contributors to global warming and environmental degradation–which directly affects everyone’s health–how can we talk about food choice without considering food production and supply? If health is what it’s all about, how can our latest dietary guidelines not incorporate sustainability?

Health and the Environmental Impact of Food

How do the Feds propose empowering Americans to take control of their health when they don’t account for the environmental impact Americans’ food choices have on that health?

Dr. Walter Willett, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition and Chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, didn’t hesitate to react immediately with a strongly worded statement accusing Vilsack and Burwell of invoking censorship “on a grand scale” and “demonstrating the power of the meat industry to distort national policies and priorities.”

To quote Dr. Willett: “Neither health nor food security are possible without a sustainable food supply.”

How do you view the connection between your food choices and its environmental impact? What small things do you do or might be interested in doing to change the equation?