New dietary guidelines won’t include sustainability goal. Background: The nation’s Dietary Guidelines are set to be revised this year. A panel of scientific experts (the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee – DGAC) advising the federal government said that Americans should eat “more fruit, vegetables, dairy, and whole grains, and less sugar and refined grains.” Included in the recommendations? A suggestion to eat less meat. The panel explicitly linked environmental health with human health by recommending that the nation’s dietary guidelines consider environmental sustainability. DGAC expressed concern about the effect of the American diet on the environment, including air and water quality and the release of too many greenhouse gas emissions. The recommendation generated a great deal of controversy, including push back from the meat industry. You can read the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report here.
The non-binding recommendations were open to public comment and then decided upon by the USDA and Health and Human Services. Those agencies have now weighed in. Their conclusion? Nix the sustainability piece from the guidelines.
Learn more about the decision in this piece by Allison Aubrey; it appears in NPR and provides excellent discussion about what’s occurred, including some great quotes from key people advocating for the inclusion of the sustainability goal. The Hill has published a piece on this, too, penned by Lydia Wheeler. For an in-depth policy take, refer to Parke Wilde’s U.S. Food Policy blog. His conclusion? “The main impact of today’s announcement is to make the 2015 DGA less relevant, uselessly silent on some of the most important food guidance questions of our time. The public will turn elsewhere for authoritative information on sustainability and diet.”
Update on school lunches: do kids hate them? A Review piece by Kate Murphy entitled “Why Students Hate School Lunches” appeared a couple of weeks ago in the New York Times. School lunch advocate Bettina Elias Siegel – who writes an incredibly good blog, The Lunch Tray – was among many who disagrees with that premise. Now, the New York Times has printed her rebuttal, as well as letters from other thought leaders. All are worth reading.
Addressing disparities. Clean plate club: serving #foodwaste to world leaders. Terrific piece by Bill Buford for The New Yorker. What happens when a group of chefs prepares a meal using food that would otherwise be thrown away? It gets eaten. Farmworker housing is in the news: thousands live in makeshift trailer parks in Southern California’s Coachella Valley. Addressing the housing crisis “can be costly and complex.” Paloma Esquivel reports for The Los Angeles Times.
Food innovations. Cocoa plants are threatened by pests, disease and climate change…which in turn threatens the world’s chocolate supply. And the dire situation is inspiring big food companies to change how they operate: instead of protecting trade secrets, they are collaborating, funding research “for the greater good.” Terrific piece by Tove Danovich for Grist; it dives deeply into a topic we’ve been hearing about more frequently. Grapes – including raisins – are California’s third largest crop. But harvesting them is labor-intensive. Ezra David Romero writes a piece about Sunpreme, a new variety that could dramatically change the raisin industry. It appears in NPR.
Things to know: About the EPA’s new pesticide rules. Elizabeth Grossman for Civil Eats. Ten certification agencies creating a more sustainable food system. Katherine Harris compiled this excellent piece for Food Tank.
On the lighter side. Columbia economics student Jonah Reider has opened a “hip new restaurant in his dorm room.” Pith is drawing rave reviews on Yelp and elsewhere. Super read by Lindsey Robertson for Mashable. One of the UC Food Observer’s favorite places is the USDA’s National Agricultural Library (NAL), located in Beltsville, Maryland. So we’re delighted to share this piece, appearing in Slate, which shows some incredible watercolors of heirloom apple varieties, available in NAL’s digital collection of pomological watercolors. Many thanks to Rebecca Onion for bringing this collection forward.
The UC Food Observer will be traveling to points north for the next several days. Look for a post about her trip on Monday.