I found something interesting this past week. Interesting is honestly the most basic way to put it.
NPR’s Allison Aubry discusses the topic of how healthy diets can correlate with environmental prosperity in her article “Do Healthy Diets Protect the Planet? As the U.N. Meets, A Focus on Sustainability.” Aubry notes the U.N.’s recent meeting for the International Forum on Food and Nutrition’s recent meeting and how this meeting’s focus was on sustainability.
According to the UN’s Summit, the U.S. ranks 21 out of 34 countries on the Food Sustainability Index. As a highly developed nation with advanced technology, I feel like we can do a lot better than 21… that is, if our policy-makers put sustainability at the forefront.
This report from the USDA on The Role of Fossil Fuels in the U.S. Food System and American Diet is what truly shocked me. Here are some highlights:
- Correlation between healthy human diets and sustainable diets (page 5)
- Comparison study between “Baseline” diet, “Realistic Healthy Diet,” and “Energy Efficient Diet” (page 27-34ish)
- If everyone followed the “Realistic Healthy Diet,” (aka the USDA Dietary Guidelines) energy use (Btu) would go down 3%
- If everyone followed the “Energy Efficient Diet,” (pescatarian) energy use (Btu) would go down 74%
I love that the USDA is able to provide this information, but it’s unfortunate that funding, lobbying, and large scale agricultural conglomerates influence the government to the point of policy formation in favor of corporations.
The USDA has a mission statement involving contrasting interests of economic gain for agriculture (which is mostly industrialized at this point), physical health for consumers, and environmental sustainability. Unfortunately, these avenues fail to be met within the organization, especially when it blatantly accepts money from Interest Groups and Corporations literally funding the USDA’s NutritionProgram (MyPlate).
I think the USDA maybe needs to hit the REFRESH button on what it’s job really is. A simple “reorganization” doesn’t seem like it’ll do the trick… especially if it’s like the USDA reorganization that just happened in 2017.