New Dietary Guidelines Offer Small Victories for Farmers

I often talk about how laws and government regulation impact farmers. Today I’m going to revisit a topic that will interest of nearly every American, regardless of how you make your living… food!

Federal dietary guidelines are released every five years. On January 7, new guidelines were issued to shape American’s food choices. Perhaps more importantly, these guidelines shape purchases made by meals programs offered by public schools, hospitals, prisons and the military. Even the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) uses federal guidelines to suggest what people using this program purchase.

These guidelines impact the buying decisions of millions of Americans, so they have a huge impact on entire industries like the beef, pork and eggs. When preliminary dietary guidelines were issued late last winter, the advisory committee suggested that Americans should decrease their red meat consumption for sustainability reasons. A group of “advisors,” thinking they are saving the planet, falsely think that raising meat causes more harm to Mother Earth.

Recent studies have shown that when comparing food – calorie for calorie – meat is more efficient for our environment! Fortunately, the sustainability factors were removed from the final guidelines that were released last week.

The newest dietary guidelines call for Americans to choose lean meats and limit red meat consumption. This, too, is a partial win as studies show that lean beef and lean pork can have positive benefits in a diet. Beef naturally provides essential nutrients such as zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins. Pork chops, which are nearly as lean as chicken, provide iron, potassium and other essential nutrients.

Fat, or marbling, adds flavor to meat. It not only tastes good but some fat is good for you! Fat is a necessary part of a balanced diet. Fat provides your body with energy, as well as help move the vitamins A, D, E and K through your bloodstream. Essential fatty acids play a role in brain development, blood clotting and managing inflammation.

pork loinIronically, Americans were told for years that fat was bad. The no-fat diet became a fad, but now the “experts” are reversing their recommendation. More recent research shows that what people ate in place of fat – carbohydrates from processed foods and sugary drinks – led to more obesity and disease.

The 2015-2020 U.S. Federal Dietary Guidelines urge Americans to reduce their overall sugar intake, while also adding “good fats found in salmon, avocados and nuts” to their diets. I know these guidelines can lead to food trends, but you can bet that I won’t be replacing my pork loin with grilled fish!