The US Dietary Guidelines are a set nutrition suggestions published every 5 years by the USDA. If you are wondering why the Department of Agriculture is responsible for nutrition advice, you’re not the only one. It’s a historical mistake that has led to lukewarm recommendations over the years, due in part to an inherent conflict of interest: on the one hand the USDA want to help farmers sell more food, yet on the other it needs to recommend a reduction in consumption…
On top of this internal issue, the USDA has to bow to intense pressure from agriculture lobbies, the strongest in Washington DC, which translate firm advice such as “eat less red meat” to “balance your protein choices”.
It’s interesting to see how other countries operate in this important public health sphere. Civil Eats recently showcased Brazil’s Dietary Guidelines. Needless to say, they are issued by the Ministry of Health (Ministério da Saúde), not the Ministry of Agriculture. The advice includes:
- Develop, practice, share and enjoy your skills in food preparation and cooking.
- Limit consumption of ready-to-consume food and drink products
- Eat in company whenever possible
- Plan your time to give meals and eating proper time and space
- Be critical of the commercial advertisement of food products
Notice the difference in emphasis compared to the US? We’re busy arguing over 1500mg of sodium, and they’re talking about the importance of food in our life. Respect food, give it the time it deserves, and enjoy it in good company. Lots of things many of us have forgotten in our crazy fast paced American lifestyle.
The last recommendation is awesome too. Can you imagine the day when the USDA will be telling us to beware of a Coke commercial?
One can dream…