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Meating new guidelines

Every five years, new dietary guidelines are released in the United States. These guidelines are reviewed by the Department of Health and Human Services and once agreed upon, the new guidelines become law. Julie Ann Henstenberg, the Director of Nutrition at La Salle University, presented on the new guidelines which are scheduled to be official in the fall of 2015.

Julie Anne Henstenberg, Director of Nutrition at La Salle University. Photo from Lasalle.edu
Julie Anne Henstenberg, Director of Nutrition at La Salle University. Photo from Lasalle.edu

These guidelines set the standard for dietary and nutrition in the United States. Since these guidelines become law, they are open for discussion and comments from citizens.  Henstenberg said “They [guidelines] have never been too out there, like make sure you eat your fruits and vegetables”. She continued to describe that the committee always felt that guidelines could be influenced due to the power of the food industry if guidelines became too specific. This time around, some critics are finding the guidelines a little tough to swallow.

Food Sustainability and Safety is a brand new guideline and its creating controversy. Based off scientific reports and findings, the guidelines make the recommendation to lower red meat consumption. Healthy nutrition is now defined as low intake red and processed meat. With this decision Henstenberg asked the question, “Who’s going to define what our guidelines are?”

Everyone in the United States can help define the guidelines because all laws are open for comment and debate. However, some of the most astonishing information for red meat consumption reduction comes from Johns Hopkins. Hopkins found that the meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation. The industry is also contributing to the reduction of the Amazon Rainforest. Soy is grown in South America in the rainforest. Soy farmers are cutting down the rain forest to make more room to grow soy.

"Meatless Monday" logo. Photo from tumblr.com
“Meatless Monday” logo. Photo from tumblr.com

“Meatless Mondays is becoming a popular trend,” said Henstenberg. Not eating meat one day a week will reduce consumption for healthier living and a healthier planet.

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End waste, end hunger

A new bill has been proposed in Congress to help end hunger in the United States. The bill would offer incentives in the form of tax deducible donations to food banks. Farmers to big corporations would be eligible for the tax break if they donate extra food to food banks. This comes on the heels of a United Nations initiative to reduce international food waste and world hunger.

The United Nations found that 1.3 billion tons of food gets wasted. Nearly 300 million tons are wasted every year by first world countries, especially the United States. It is no just that food is being wasted but all the resources required to get the food to our plates is also being wasted. Cost of processing, transportation, and labor all become “thrown away” when we throw out our extra food.

The United Nation’s campaign is titled “Think, Eat, Save“. The United States calls their national effort “Fighting Hunger Incentive Act”.

The UN's "Think, Eat, Save" Campaign's logo
The UN’s “Think, Eat, Save” Campaign’s logo

While both the UN and United State’s are taking positive steps to fight hunger, I think the UN has the better idea. I see the UN’s efforts as a way to educate the world about the issue but also finds sponsors in major company and local farmers alike to support the cause for what it is. The United States is putting a monetary value on the needs of the hungry. The tax breaks in the United States could result in well over a billion dollars in lost revenue. If this is the case, where will the US government cut over a billion dollars in spending.

Cut the scraps! We need to become more responsible with our excess food. Photo from foodwastenetwork.org.uk
Cut the scraps! We need to become more responsible with our excess food.
Photo from foodwastenetwork.org.uk

While the United States is usually the model country when it comes to world issues and leadership, ending hunger is an issue the US should be in the passenger seat for. The US needs to stop wasting its time and food on the “Fighting Hunger Incentive Act” and join the fight to “Think, Eat, and Save”.