Sustainability: New Food Guidelines

The food we eat, where it comes from and how it is produced has a large impact on our community and our quality of life, as well as the long-term sustainability of our community.  So what is “sustainable food”? Sustainable food is food that is produced in a way that doesn’t reduce the ability of future generations to produce their own food.  Sustainable food is local (produced and processed within 500 miles) and is grown organically (without toxic herbicides and pesticides).  Coincidentally, “sustainable” food also happens to be really good for you–locally grown, seasonal vegetables, grains, and fruits top the list of things we should be basing our diets on. Communities across the country are realizing how food is tied up into the overall sustainability of our cities, and are working to update and alter planning ordinances in order to encourage greater production of local food, encouraging urban agriculture, even helping people to produce more of their own food.

First Lady Michelle Obama has made healthy food choices a focus of her humanitarian work during the last two years. With obesity and early onset diabetes an enormous problem among America’s youth, last week she unveiled the USDA’s new, simplified food guidelines, a much more understandable system than the old “food pyramid.”  Called “Choose My Plate,” the guidelines recommend:

Balancing Calories
Enjoy your food, but eat less.
Avoid oversized portions.
Foods to Increase
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
Make at least half your grains whole grains.
Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
Foods to Reduce
Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals and choose the foods with lower numbers.
Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

As Michael Pollan put it so susinctly: ‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’