Federal dietary recommendations may increase greenhouse gas emissions

michelle-obamaFrom the department of unintended consequences:

It is interesting that on September 15, the Arizona Daily Star ran a pro-con editorial pair on the Federal government’s dietary standards for schools. The “pro” article promotes Michelle Obama’s “campaign for healthier school lunches.”

Last week, a study from the University of Michigan claimed that “Dietary recommendations may be tied to increased greenhouse gas emissions.” (See press release) Does the EPA know about this danger?

The press release says in part:

If Americans altered their menus to conform to federal dietary recommendations, emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases tied to agricultural production could increase significantly, according to a new study by University of Michigan researchers.

Martin Heller and Gregory Keoleian of U-M’s Center for Sustainable Systems looked at the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of about 100 foods, as well as the potential effects of shifting Americans to a diet recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

They found that if Americans adopted the recommendations in USDA’s “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010,” while keeping caloric intake constant, diet-related greenhouse gas emissions would increase 12 percent.

If Americans reduced their daily caloric intake to the recommended level of about 2,000 calories while shifting to a healthier diet, greenhouse gas emissions would decrease by only 1 percent, according to Heller and Keoleian.

“The take-home message is that health and environmental agendas are not aligned in the current dietary recommendations,” Heller said.


The paper titled “Greenhouse gas emission estimates of U.S. dietary choices and food loss” was published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology (see full paper here).

The paper also discusses alleged greenhouse gas implications of food waste. The conclusion to the paper starts: “Real and important opportunities exist to improve the resource use efficiency and environmental impact of the U.S. food system that do not require increased yields or shifts in production practices, but are instead dependent on consumer behaviors.”

You see, it’s all your fault say the Nanny-statists.