CONSUMERS DESERVE THE TRUTH
(From the Spring 2015 issue of the Georgia Neighbors)
I know summer doesn’t officially arrive until June 21, but like most of us, I consider Memorial Day weekend the beginning of summer. I’ve already been enjoying Georgia’s famous Vidalia Onions and blueberries and can’t wait until the Georgia peaches and watermelons start ripening.
If you love fresh produce, be sure to visit one of the many Georgia Farm Bureau Certified Farm Markets across the state where you can buy produce straight from the farmers who grow it. You’ll find a complete list of the markets beginning on page 37. No matter where you live in Georgia, one of our markets is within driving distance of you.
Visiting one of our markets is a great way to create a memory with your kids and teach them that farmers grow their food – that it doesn’t just magically appear on the grocery store shelf.
With farmers making up less than two percent of America’s population, Georgia Farm Bureau realizes there is a growing disconnect between those of us who grow crops and raise livestock to feed America and the consumers who buy the food we grow. That’s why we formed the GFB Foundation for Agriculture late last year.
For years, GFB has used our Ag in the Classroom program to help our county volunteers go into local schools and teach students how farmers grow food and protect the environment by taking care of the soil, water and wildlife on their farms. GFB has formed this non-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation to receive tax-deductible donations so we can ramp up our Ag in the Classroom programs, scholarships, educational outreach and leadership development programs to tell the story of agriculture. You can learn more about the foundation and how you can make a donation on page 24.
A prime example of the need for the agricultural literacy work the GFB Foundation for Agriculture will fund is the report the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee issued in February. Since 1980, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) have issued Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years. These guidelines influence federal nutrition policy, education, outreach and food assistance programs used by consumers, industry, nutrition educators and health professionals.
Given the important role Georgia farmers play in producing America’s food supply, GFB closely follows the process of updating the federal dietary guidelines. Although the development of the new guidelines is still in its early stages, we have serious concerns about the initial report the committee released because it suggests the committee will base dietary guidelines on more than health and nutrition considerations and will consider the sustainability of food production.
The sustainability section in the report is based on the 2006 report “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” released by the U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization. Despite the serious and well-documented flaws of this report, it has been the basis for numerous attacks against livestock and dairy production.
Past dietary guidelines have included a positive reference to lean meat as part of a healthy diet. The initial report does not. The advisory committee appears to have taken a negative view of livestock products based on the perceived negative impact their production has on the environment.
GFB recognizes the importance of sustainable agriculture. The majority of Georgia farmers are following production practices that protect the soil and water resources on their farms. We have to protect our natural resources to keep our livestock and our families healthy and so we can pass our farms down to the next generation.
Based on the widely recognized role meat and dairy can play in a healthy diet, GFB is urging USDA and HHS to restore the positive nutritional statements about these products that have been included in dietary guidelines of the past.
Meat provides us with zinc, iron and protein. All three of these nutrients support our immune systems. Dairy foods are naturally nutrient-rich, unlike many of the other drinks on the dairy aisle that have nutrients added. Milk naturally provides calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, Vitamins A, D, B12, riboflavin and niacin. Numerous studies have shown that cuts of lean meat and low-fat or fat-free dairy products can be part of a healthy diet.
Dietary guidelines should be based on the health and nutritional benefits food provides consumers, not on a political agenda. You can learn more about this issue on page 14.
I was raised to believe that the words of the Bible reveal the truth about life, and if I study its words prayerfully I will discover the answers to all of life’s questions.
The New King James Version of the Bible tells us in Genesis 9:3: Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.
In Genesis 9 God made numerous promises to Noah and his family including their dietary guidelines. All things God created are good and his words are the truth that never changes. So when you ask me and my family, “What’s for Dinner?” the answer is “BEEF!”
I thank God for giving us the truth. God Bless!