Progressive Mission Creep In Your Diet

Derek Hunter

3/6/2014 12:01:00 AM - Derek Hunter

Ever heard of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee before? Neither had I before it came up in a discussion with a friend last week. This group meets every five years, under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, to update and set dietary guidelines for all Americans.

Seems harmless enough, right? Well, much like every government entity that starts out with seemingly good intentions, progressives eventually discover a way for its influence and power to advance their agenda in ways never intended. Such is the case with the DGAC.

Most people don’t care about dietary issues. What you eat is your business. If you want to live on nothing but Doritos and Twinkies until your body grows into your couch and a wall of your house needs to be removed so the forklift can load you into an ambulance, that’s your business.

Obamacare has changed that.

Now that taxpayers are directly subsidizing the health care of others, the government has a financial interest in what people put in their bodies. That gives DGAC more influence and power than it was intended to have. And it is using that influence to advance a progressive social agenda into our food.

The 2010 DGAC collaborated on the creation of the Health and Sustainability Guidelines for Federal Concessions and Vending Operations, which studied and promoted “sustainable” practices that have nothing to do with diet or nutrition, such as: “Offering incentives for using reusable beverage containers,” “using green cleaning and pest control practices,” “using compostable and bio-based trays, flatware, plates and bowls,” and “offering food that is organically, locally or sustainably grown and labeled accordingly.”

What does this have to do with nutrition? If you answer anything other than “nothing,” read it again.

It should come as no surprise that as the 2015 guidelines come together, the DGAC is setting its sights on even more mission creep. In addition to studying nutrition issues well within its purview, it has a subcommittee studying “Food Sustainability and Safety.”

At its first meeting, DGAC had a meeting on “Agriculture/aquaculture sustainability: How, what, and where foods are grown and their relationship with the long-term health of humans and the planet.”

The DGAC is now populated not by nutritionists but by elite progressives, including a big supporter of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “soda ban.” That’s not all. Also in its first meeting, you get this: “Several Committee members noted policies that have been implemented that could be reviewed, including changes to the WIC program, the introduction of menu labeling and banning of trans fat. Several additional topics were suggested by Committee members, including food insufficiency/hunger, organic versus traditional growing patterns, immigration and food waste.”

The mandate for DGAC states it will publish its findings and, “The law instructs that this publication shall contain nutritional and dietary information and guidelines for the general public, shall be based on the preponderance of scientific and medical knowledge current at the time of publication, and shall be promoted by each Federal agency in carrying out any Federal food, nutrition, or health program.”

See anything about the environmentalists’ agenda in there?

No, the DGAC’s purpose is to establish and update nutritional guidelines for a healthy, balanced diet, not impose one on people or advance the so-called “green” agenda. But its recommendations carry weight and, if those recommendations venture into these progressive areas, they will have an impact on your wallet too.

Not only could DGAC’s recommendations influence military food allowances, and food stamp and school lunch programs – but nutritional labeling also may be changed dramatically, which will drive up costs for manufacturers and, ultimately, consumers. Market forces, such as increasing the cost of doing business, are often ignored by progressives. But that doesn’t make them go away.

When a government entity’s agenda is not bound by its mandate, the sky is the limit. When progressive elitists are put in charge, they inevitably expand the limits of the sky. Short of abolishing the DGAC, its members need to be limited in both scope and background. A novel idea would be to include nutritionists, food producers and the public through real transparency. Including those with knowledge of nutrition as well as those directly affected by these recommendations would make much more sense than loading the DGAC with coastal elites who live their daily lives in the unreal world of academia. It also wouldn’t be beholden to a progressive agenda of ever-growing government control, which is why it hasn’t happened and probably never will.