Remember the food pyramid? If you (or your children) were in school during the 1990s or 2000s, you probably recall the brightly colored triangle telling us to load up on empty carbs and eat meat, fish, and other sources of protein sparingly. Long after most nutritionists began to advocate for the high-protein, lower-carb diet that we now know is the healthiest way to eat, the federal government continued to push a marathon runner’s meal plan on our children--a stroke of incompetence that perhaps contributed to our ongoing diabetes epidemic.
The food pyramid has since given way to an incomprehensible “dinner plate,” but Uncle Sam is still trying to tell you what to eat, and he still doesn’t have your best interests at heart. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), a joint venture of HHS and the USDA, will soon meet to update the government’s official dietary recommendations--and the committee has given many indications that a balanced diet isn’t their top priority.
Under the Obama administration, the DGAC’s scope has expanded from providing nutritional advice to promoting “sustainability” and other feel-good “planet-friendly practices.” This means that, as far as the government is concerned, it’s no longer enough that the food on your dinner table provides all the nutrients needed for you to live a healthy life. Rather, the DGAC wants you to choose earthy food, using vague metrics like environmental protection, animal welfare, and general sustainability to determine whether what you eat is “healthy” or not.
This crunchy-granola nirvana is more dangerous than your run-of-the-mill Bloomberg nannyism. Beyond merely discouraging perfectly acceptable foods, the DGAC has the power to determine what food is served in schools, military bases, prisons, and federal cafeterias. If the committee prioritizes an environmental agenda over sound food science, our children and soldiers could be inadequately nourished. The recommendations that the DGAC produces are also used to calculate benefit allowances for the food stamp program, and an emphasis on green growing practices over cost-efficient nutrition could leave the poor and hungry even hungrier.
The committee’s job is to give us guidelines for how to eat healthily, not tell us how to eat green, but it seems far more concerned with the latter. Unsurprisingly, this is the reality we face when an overreaching government stacks a nutritional commission with environmental activists instead of food scientists and nutritionists who have dedicated their careers to healthy eating. Millions of Americans will be affected by the next set of DGAC guidelines, so it’s time for the committee to stop playing games with our food supply and get back to providing sound advice based on science, not politics.