News Flash! The latest report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is out. All 571 pages of it.
As Mark Bittman says in The New York Times, “The report is not a paradigm shift, but it does contain significant improvements.” Here’s what is most exciting to me about them:
For the first time the scientific advisory committee on dietary guidelines did a radical thing: it recommended we eat less sugar and red meat, for health and environmental reasons. Imagine that! It’s so clear, though, what a threat the meat and dairy industry see in these common sense recommendations. Their PR teams are in overdrive.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the main trade group for the beef sector, cites its own nutritionist who says: “the recommendation that a healthy dietary pattern should be lower in red meat is not consistent with scientific evidence and would be unsound dietary advice.” Imagine that? The beef industry doesn’t think you should be eating less of their product!
The Sugar Association, yes the lobbying team for sugar, had this to say about the recommendation to cut back on the sweet stuff: “these conclusions were “opinion-based” and not “science-based.” Why am I not surprised?
For the first time it also included a section about sustainability – thanks in large part to advocates around the country, from Friends of the Earth to The Organic Center.
I was really glad to see the report stand up for the kind of innovation tax policies we’re seeing popping up in communities around the country. The guidelines suggested making “broad policy changes… including the use of economic and taxing policies to encourage the production and consumption of healthy foods and to reduce unhealthy foods.” Later in the report they explain: “For example, earmark tax revenues from sugar-sweetened beverages, snack foods and desserts high in calories, added sugars, or sodium, and other less healthy foods for nutrition education initiatives and obesity prevention programs.” Yes, folks, these guys endorsed soda taxes, like the one we won here in Berkeley, as one of the ways to reduce consumption of the stuff that’s bad for us and fund the kind of education we need to get us consuming more of the stuff that’s good for us.
Of course, there’s a long way to go before these recommendations are codified in policy and, no doubt, the food industry is going to lobby hard to push back against these suggestions. It already has. All the more reasons we’ve got to speak up!