BY BROOKLYN PINHEIRO
Since the early ’90s the ‘Got Milk’ campaign has graced the pages of glossy magazines everywhere. The classic advertisement ended in 2014 and has been recently replaced by a swirl of new commercials this year. The ‘grab a cold one’ and ‘it’s worth crying over’ have been the Dairy Farmers of Canada’s recent attempts to increase the demand for their product, and with Canada’s Food Guide getting a swirl of changes in 2018, they have reason to be concerned.
It’s been said that the new food guide is not to be confused with a revision but a total shift from what it is today. The main difference, and what has food producers stirring, is the new guides take on meat and dairy products. The new guide is said to reduce the importance put on these products and instead promotes a plant-based diet including plant-based protein sources. Since the meat and dairy industry is known to have a very negative effect on the environment this new food guide could have a huge impact on our environment.
Raising livestock to be eaten uses so many resources that could otherwise be used to directly feed people. One third of the world’s fresh water supply goes to livestock, 30 per cent of non frozen land is inhabited by livestock and 1.3 billion tons of grain are used to feed them. The outcome from livestock is also harmful to the environment. Red meat production is responsible for 40 per cent more greenhouse gases than growing fruits and vegetables and is responsible for 20 per cent of all methane gases in the United States. So with a plant-based diet being a viable alternative to eating meat with it’s negative environmental affect, its easy to question why the food guide is the way it is to begin with.
When the food guide was originally created it was to educate people on how to stay healthy during war times and combat famine. It suggested that lots of milk and bread were a part of a healthy diet. In the 75 years since its debut the guide has undergone tweaks but still lists grains, dairy and meat products as separate food groups which are part of a balanced diet. But the health concerns of Canadians have changed over the decade from famine to obesity and diet-related chronic illnesses, and thus the food guide is going through its major revamp in order to address these concerns.
Not only does the food guide implicitly benefit the environment through what it suggests, but the guide is also designating a section to how people should eat and where there food should come from. Sustainable growing and buying local are both said to have emphasis in the new guide.
Since its creation Canada’s Food Guide has been used by doctors, dietitians, and has major influence on school lunch programs. If the guide is as drastically different as expected to be, people and the environment will notice.