Opinion » Letters

There's no food shortage--just a healthy food shortage



About a month ago, on Dec. 15, 2014, NPR reported something that is significant to all of us locally and nationally. The Obama Administration is going to fund a number of experts to draft a document titled, “Dietary Goals for the United States.” Sounds worthwhile. Sounds like “at last ... .”

But here is the problem. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter did the exact same thing. “Dietary Goals for the United States”—the 1978 edition—looked at the cause of chronic and degenerative diseases in America and linked it to malnutrition. The recommendation was to cut down on sugar, salt, red meat, and dairy products and to increase our use of whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables. The report was condemned by the International Sugar Growers, the American Cattleman Association, and the American Dairy Council. The result was a watered down version re-released during the Reagan Administration.

The new version not yet written, the experts are basically saying the same thing, but are also drawing attention—what they say “for the first time”—to sustainability, seeing how the use of land for growing corn and grazing cattle wastes land that could provide better nutrition for more people by growing grains, fruits, and vegetables. Catching wind of this, the American beef producers are already lobbying against this upcoming report. They want the document to state what nutrients are needed for health without specifying what foods to get those nutrients from. No doubt, the sugar and dairy associations will weigh in shortly.

Ag land for cows. Ag land for wine. After all, doesn’t a steak go with a good red? The point here is that to utilize land for either in excess takes away from land that would far better serve humanity if it went to directly producing foods to feed us all.

In truth, there is no food shortage. And, we have enough healthy food to bring the standards of health and welfare up for all worldwide. However, the demand for meat worldwide is increasing and there is more money in meat and wine than there is in carrots. And there are an excess of ignorant, arrogant, and self-serving politicians and lobbying groups who are looking more to profits than real global sustainability. As Mr. Obama still seems to be cozy with Monsanto and the like, I wonder what “Dietary Goals ... ” will look like. Or is it just one more piece of political theater masquerading as caring?

-- Robert Sachs - San Luis Obispo

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