We are constantly surrounded by the two words “healthy eating.” From between the pages of magazines to the ads played on our TV screens, we see promotions of eating healthy alongside advertisements of junk food. Children from a young age are encouraged to eat their balance of vegetables, fruits, grains, meats and dairy in schools. In fact, I remember the time when I was taught about the food guide in elementary school.
The food guide, for those who are not familiar with it, is a piece of document which outlines recommendations of servings on different food groups. Though the serving sizes in the booklet are quite hard to decipher for many people let alone follow the guide on a daily basis, it still is the basic definition of “healthy diet” in our society. It is considered a scientific piece of recommendation but what many times is overlooked are the interests of food companies.
According to one opinion research study, the public’s worry of the government being too cozy with the industry was evident. “Some criticized the government for perceived alignment with, or influence from, industry (e.g., grain or dairy industries) rather than being grounded in sound health research and practice.”
The research also found “presumption that meats are required was considered off-putting to some” because they think protein is a “more important requirement than meat.” So in the new revision, they are thinking of telling people to eat less meat. They are also considering getting rid of the milk products category. Some food lobby groups are not too happy about that.
According to an article named The Politics of Food Guides,“The Canadian Meat Council complained that the “meat and alternatives” group included “only 1-3 servings per day, which may be interpreted that one should be careful in eating meat when viewed in the context of 4-10 vegetable servings. … The guide was revised, upping the recommended meat and alternatives servings to 2-3.”
Another notable mention of the relationship between the government and the food industry is the “Got Milk?” ads campaign. The US Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines recommends three servings of dairy a day, even though one in four Americans can’t digest milk. All the nutrients of milk can be found within others food such as broccoli and black beans then why is it that they are not promoted as much as milk is? Well, as it turns out, “They don’t have trade groups giving millions to members of Congress and lobbying for influence over the nation’s nutrition policy.”
Seems like healthy eating is not as casual as I once thought it was. What does it mean to you?