We should be good stewards of our planet – victoria advocate – victoria, tx

It’s no longer enough to say, “You are what you eat.” In a global economy, our food choices not only affect us. What we eat affects the planet and the future of food security in our country.

This year, a panel of 14 doctors and nutritional scientists tasked with reviewing the nation’s dietary guidelines advised that we consider the environmental impacts of what we eat.

The dietary guidelines,

which are reviewed every five years, are no small matter. They affect how our children, military members and prisoners are fed.

And while federal officials chose to disregard the committee’s recommendation, the advice is logical. We need to think about the Earth, because our ability to feed the population and future generations depends on it.

But tying our diet to environmental impacts isn’t so simple.

What we eat is cultural and often very personal. It’s a product of how we were raised and where we are in our life.

And changing what we eat, as those of us who have attempted to go on a diet can attest to, isn’t easy.

But in a day and age when grocery store aisles are packed with “food stuff” that is bad for our body and planet, it’s time to drop the stuff.

The good news is that what is good for the environment is also good for us. Eating a diet with more vegetables, more fruit and less red and processed meat gives us the nutrition we need, while cutting down on green house gas emissions and water use, according to the advisory committee’s 571-page report.

And, that’s not to say there’s not room in a healthy diet for lean meat.

Most of us are familiar with the “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner” advertising campaign. But for beef to be grown sustainably, it can’t be for dinner every night.

We need to be willing to pay more for the beef we purchase so that the men and women who raise cattle can invest in ways to do so as efficiently as possible.

And, we shouldn’t stop there. When we purchase food, we need to think about the underlying costs of what we consume. For example: We should probably think about our consumption of almonds, since California, the state that produces 80 percent of the world’s supply, is experiencing a historic drought.

Because federal officials decided to overlook our food’s cost to the environment, we won’t see these costs considered in the MyPlate nutrition guide, which has replaced the iconic food pyramid, over the next five years.

But that doesn’t mean we have to ignore the science.

We can let our local cattlemen and women know we don’t have any beef with them while also eating in a way that promotes our health and the health of future generations. Cattle ranchers have long been good stewards of the land. Eating right is one way to be a good steward of the planet.

This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate’s editorial board.