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 Post subject: USDA: Dietary recommendations based purely on health
PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2015 2:19 pm 
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For now. The push is to tweak the recommendations for "sustainability."


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 Post subject: Re: USDA: Dietary recommendations based purely on health
PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2015 11:33 pm 
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While I'll acknowledge that meat production does indeed require more acreage I'd like to take the opportunity to point out that cattle don't eat the same grade of wheat as humans do. That's lost on the vast majority of the public and I suspect many regulators as well. Speaking from a Canadian perspective we primarily bake with #1 or #2 grade, though most of Canada's #2 grade is shipped out of country. #3 also exists and all of it goes to foreign lands where they take what they can purchase (price decreases alongside of grade). North Americans tend to have very stringent baking requirements, something not the case in other countries.

After #3 comes feed grade and no farmer wants to hear those words unless they are feeding their own cattle. Feed grade is not used for human consumption, full stop. Feed grade in bad years can comprise greater than 50% of the crop produced - all that goes to feeding livestock. You know where it goes if we stop feeding it to livestock because they produce too much methane? It gets sown back onto the fields and sprayed out as a weed. That too contributes to "greenhouse gases" and increases pesticide usage.

Is it really too much to expect people to think all the way through a problem? Yes, yes it is. I'd really like to see Panera and the like start baking their products with feed grade wheat.


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 Post subject: Re: USDA: Dietary recommendations based purely on health
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2015 12:11 am 
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There's a fair amount of cattle raised hereabouts.

They're raised on grasslands that will not support a human-consumable crop.


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 Post subject: Re: USDA: Dietary recommendations based purely on health
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2015 9:53 pm 
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KGB wrote:
There's a fair amount of cattle raised hereabouts.

They're raised on grasslands that will not support a human-consumable crop.


Yeah, the "grass-fed" movement is part of that, though pasture land on ranches is pretty darn normal. It's fascinating to watch what should be the battle of the environment versus the organic/natural food movement.

Realistically speaking, organic on average produces about 2/3 the amount that conventional production does (noting that zero years are entirely possible though not admitted to). So the acreage for organic production to yield the same amount of food is larger. Will the USDA be factoring that into their recommendations? Somehow I seriously doubt it.

You do raise an excellent point about marginal land. We have land here that is largely swamp land and all that is grown on it is alfalfa and forage grasses because nothing else yields enough quantity or quality. Guess what that stuff goes to feed? Yup, cattle. Like the grass pastures they won't produce anything else so sure, we could eliminate the cattle production and have the land go back to being "natural" which from a consumption point is useless.


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 Post subject: Re: USDA: Dietary recommendations based purely on health
PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2015 10:06 pm 
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Location: Broomfield, Colorado
Science 9 October 2015
Insight
Designing a sustainable diet
As pointed out, this year's updated DGAC considered "sustainability" for the first time. It's noted that very few (estimated at 4%) of Americans actually follow the DGAC; however the DGAC fixes meal content at the Federal level for military personnel, the WIC program, the National School Lunch Program, and SNAP. There have been objections that including sustainability in the DGAC exceeds statutory limits; however the DGAC sent a letter to Congress pointing out that nothing in the 1990 statute prohibits them from including sustainability. Although Science is usually fairly liberal, this article is rather skeptical of the "sustainability" requirement. Among problems noted is "healthy" often conflicts with "sustainable". The article gives two examples: almonds are considered "heart healthy", but it takes 2.8 liters of water to grow each one. The Danish government (which considers "sustainability" in its dietary guidance already) recommends two fish meals a week but the "sustainability" of fishing is questionable and the recommendation is under review.


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 Post subject: Re: USDA: Dietary recommendations based purely on health
PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2015 2:26 pm 
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If the world were to eat a healthy diet, is there any way it could do so in a sustainable manner.

:?:


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 Post subject: Re: USDA: Dietary recommendations based purely on health
PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2015 10:34 pm 
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Robert Espy wrote:
If the world were to eat a healthy diet, is there any way it could do so in a sustainable manner.

:?:


Well, first you have to define a healthy diet. Naturally we'd stumble immediately trying to agree on what healthy is. Meat isn't unhealthy if defined from the perspective of the observation humans are omnivores, our dentition and archaeological evidence both point to that. So we need to boot the PETA mindset from the start. Should we eat less red meat? Perhaps, though I find the science dubious at times. As mentioned above though, we need to kill the grass-fed movement because it's too land intensive. We could stop feeding livestock feed grade wheat though and subsequently not eat meat. Humans would just have to accept really poor quality cereals to make their breads, etc.

Since it seems pesticides are generally deemed unhealthy (and I'd agree wholeheartedly they are if you are directly ingesting them at the source) we'd need more acreage to grow things on which I'd suggest isn't sustainable. We'd gain some of those acres though by no longer discriminating grade of cereals so that would be a plus towards an imagined manner of sustainability. The likely increase in ergot content in the diet might have deleterious effects, but really that's only if you're the one being accused of being a witch.

Should food be organic or natural? Well, I don't think natural fits because that means all the cereals we eat (corn, wheat, barley, oats) should all be of the variety that were initially grasses with limited seed production, so we'd likely starve on that basis? Organic? Far too pointless and subjective a term - just look at the intra-state variability in organic rules to make your own head spin and none of it includes "pesticide-free" in the first place. Plus really if we're fair, we're looking at an average reduction in yield of a third with potential for zero yield in many years (or in another way of looking at it we'd need to increase acreage by 1/3 to obtain the same yields, so that's not sustainable since we're probably plowing up marginal land to get sub-optimal yields). Also lower crop yields in many ways, especially if we explain to the public that most classical breeding was mutation driven by either radiation or treatment with herbicides. I seriously doubt either of those options are all that much more palatable to the average activist mindset than genetic modification (which is exactly what it is anyway, just a generally slower, more random approach, but I digress). So we'd need to toss out most of the modern varieties, especially the stuff Borlaug had a hand in, the heathen that he is, saving third world people from starvation. How unsustainable.

Local? Well that's going to work for your California's of the world (or anywhere between about 30S -->30N latitude) but the rest of the world will be pretty much screwed. No citrus for many of us, though I suspect the elimination of people not in "my back yard" is an actual goal for many food activists in the first place. My favorite question for most locovores is where they got their coffee from because unless you're in the tropics, it ain't local and even then it can be a stretch. And coffee really has no significant nutritional value, so I'd propose that's the first thing to go.

We'd also need to completely eliminate our aversion to eating imperfect food. I'd suggest in horticultural production a goodly percentage of application goes to cosmetic purposes alone. Of course that's largely from the perspective of insecticides. Fungicides need to be applied prophylactically because they have no "curative" action once a plant disease has taken hold - basically you're screwed. Of course we could just use the excuse the organic banana growers use and put netting over the food and strongly suggest we "only" spray the netting and nothing gets on the produce itself.

The real answer to your question? Is soylent green nutrionally adequate, healthy and sustainable? Otherwise the answer is no given a population of eight million plus people.


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 Post subject: Re: USDA: Dietary recommendations based purely on health
PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2015 11:50 pm 
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I suppose if you lived in, say, Denver, and you eschewed anything but "local" food, and didn't include meat your diet would be limited to a variety of roots, berries, and mushrooms. If you added meat you could have some fish, bison, pronghorns, mountain sheep, an assortment of rodents, some birds, and grasshoppers. That should give the Paleo Diet people pause - our ancestors (probably) killed off almost all the edible paleolithic food animals and genetically modified the rest.


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