USDA Releases Draft of 2010 Dietary Guidelines

June 16, 2010

The USDA has just released its draft of Dietary Guidelines for Americans—a wrist-slittingly dull publication that it updates every five years. The document itself is perhaps intentionally written to discourage people from reading it, but USA Today has good coverage of the basics.

One unambiguous piece of good news: recommended salt intake has been slashed by a third, which is long overdue.

The recommendation of greatest interest to veggie advocates, with my reaction in curly brackets:

Shift food intake patterns to a more plant-based diet that emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. {Hooray! That’s enough; please don’t write anything else.} In addition, increase the intake of seafood and fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products and consume only moderate amounts of lean meats, poultry, and eggs. {Doh!}

Moderate amounts? The meat industry must be rejoicing to see that deliberately useless word make yet another appearance in federal nutritional guidelines. Doesn’t every omnivore think his meat consumption is moderate? Why not say, “little or none” instead?

And the USDA is actually advising Americans to consume even more dairy products? Unbelievable. The dairy lobby certainly has pull.

As Jonathan Safran Foer wrote in Eating Animals, and I wrote in Meat Market, the USDA—which exists largely to promote the business interests of agribusiness—should not be responsible for issuing this sort of advice, and the food industry should have no say over drafting these guidelines.

There’s now a one-month public comment period, after which a final document will be released. (Thanks, Craig.)

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