- The Washington Times - Friday, February 20, 2015

The government’s effort to combat climate change is moving toward Americans’ dinner table.

A federal advisory committee this week urged that the government’s next generation of dietary guidelines for the first time take into account environmental factors, specifically recommending more fruits and vegetables and less meats.

“Consistent evidence indicates that, in general, a dietary pattern that is higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with lesser environmental impact (GHG emissions and energy, land, and water use) than is the current average U.S. diet,” the U.S. 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended in a wide-ranging report.

GHG standards for greenhouse gas emissions, which climate scientists blame for global warming.

If the Department of Health and Human Services and Agriculture Department include the recommendation in their new dietary guidelines set to be released this year, it would mark the first time environmental factors impacted a set of guidelines traditionally aimed at healthy eating and nutrition.

The commission strongly urged expanding the focus of the guidelines.

“Sustainability considerations provide an additional rationale for following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and should be incorporated into federal and local nutrition feeding programs when possible,” it said. “Using sustainability messaging in communication strategies should be encouraged. The application of environmental and sustainability factors to dietary guidelines can be accomplished because of the compatibility and degree of overlap between favorable health and environmental outcomes.

Environmentalists immediately applauded the recommendation.

But the meat industry, already battling years of lower consumption in America, excoriated the committee for stepping outside its core expertise of nutrition and focusing on environmental sustainability.

“The Dietary Guidelines Committee’s charter tasked them with reviewing nutrition science, which is the field from which Committee members were selected. The Committee’s foray into the murky waters of sustainability is well beyond its scope and expertise,” said North American Meat Institute President and CEO Barry Carpenter. “It’s akin to having a dermatologist provide recommendations about cardiac care.”

The committee’s recommendation is the latest sign of the far-reaching impact of President Obama’s environmental agenda on government after six years of intensive focus. The Pentagon recently reported its efforts at energy efficiency left it with its smallest power consumption in decades, and nearly every agency in the federal government has some focus on climate issues now, right down to the American dinner table.

You can download the committee’s recommendations by clicking here.

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