A national survey commissioned by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future has found that nearly three-quarters of adults believe U.S dietary guidelines should include environmental provisions and support sustainable agriculture practices, but despite clear recommendations by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to include sustainability language and recommend sustainable diets, based on the well-established link to health, the USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services opted not to include them in the final 2015-2020 guidelines, once again highlighting the point that I the USDA is the United States Department of Agriculture, not the United States Department ofPublic Health, thus they are beholden to the financial interests of Big Agra, not individual citizens of this country. They are concerned with the health of the economy, not the health of the individual.
Had the DGA included sustainability guidelines, this would have represented vision, foresight and concern for not only the health and welfare of the current generation of Americans but for generations to come. Sadly, this is not the modus operandi of the government. Guidelines and recommendations on diet proffered by the USDA are focused only on short-sighted economic benefits disguised as concern for public health, which in fact is farthest from their minds, as clearly illustrated when the DGA is carefully dissected one nutritional component at a time. Guidelines are also influenced by which political party is in power every 4 years. Human biochemistry however does not change every 4 years, not even every 4000 years!
It is quite easy for Nutritionists, especially Registered Dietitians, to get caught up in the quagmire of bureaucracy that obscures the basic biochemistry of nutrition science under the blanket of governmental policies dictated by economics. I do not wish to wax cynical or misrepresent myself as the “Oliver Stone of Nutrition Science”, I am merely making the point that the public consists of individual citizens making individual choices about their food purchases and diet. All that we Nutritionists can do, with diligence and foresight, is to at least disseminate science, not politically dogma, when we offer our advice on what folks should be eating.
As additional “food for thought”, I would also like to add one more consideration to the topic of sustainability. Which is that sustainability is a luxury that we have the privilege of debating here in our prosperous nation, where we can afford to argue issues such as sustainable versus non-sustainable, organic versus non-organic, locally grown versus not locally grown, vegan versus vegetarian, etc. Meanwhile, 900 million people around the world have no idea where their next meal will come from and worry that their children may starve to death. It is very important for us to count our blessings and take pause now and then to appreciate that we are privileged enough to be able to worry about the sustainability of our food supply, instead of the sustainability of our individual lives!