Why Federal Dietary Guidelines Should Acknowledge the Food-Choice / Environment Nexus: Examining the Recommendation to Eat More Seafood
Nell Green Nylen
University of California, Berkeley - School of Law
March 23, 2012
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and all federal programs and activities that flow from them (for example, SNAP, WIC, and the National School Lunch Program), should integrate environmental sustainability considerations into policy development and on-the-ground implementation. While non-binding on the American public, federal dietary advice is a policy vehicle intended to have specific, significant effects on the food choices of several hundred million people. These effects translate into significant foreseeable environmental impacts that, under the National Environmental Policy Act, should be taken into consideration in deciding what advice to give and precisely how to frame it. Currently, this doesn’t happen, and the result is nutritional recommendations that are blindered to their actual impacts. For example, the 2010 Guidelines recommend that Americans more than double their average intake of seafood but fail to include guidance about — or even acknowledgement of — the relative environmental impacts of different seafood choices. This is both irresponsible and, in the slightly longer term, self-defeating: overfishing and habitat destruction today contribute to seafood scarcity and food insecurity tomorrow. We can’t afford to continue to willfully ignore the unintended environmental consequences of federal dietary advice.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 45
Keywords: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, seafood, overfishing, fish, environmental impact, fisheries management, NEPA recommendations
JEL Classification: I12, I18, K32, Q18, Q22, Q28working papers series
Date posted: April 30, 2012
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