Most American adults responding to a 2016 survey believe the
2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines missed a prime opportunity to enact mindful environmental provisions that would have supported sustainable agriculture. Although the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee specifically recommended such provisions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services conspicuously omitted the guidance in the final version.
A poll commissioned by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research found broad support for the inclusion of sustainability language. Of 800 Americans surveyed, 74% believe the newly released DGAs should have included environmental provisions and supported sustainable agriculture practices.
Final survey data showed that sustainability is a significant issue spanning partisan lines: Nearly 83% of Democrats, 72% of Independents and 64% of Republicans agree that the DGAs “should consider environmental considerations as they relate to health, nutrition and long-term healthy food availability,” reports a Johns Hopkins news release. Furthermore, Americans indicate “a willingness to make sacrifices in cost in order to support sustainability, and 70% of all survey respondents [say] that the agricultural industry has a responsibility to produce food in a sustainable way. Just 30% . . . believe it’s the industry’s responsibility to provide food at a low cost.”
Other main takeaways from the survey:
- Respondents see protecting the health of one’s family, including ensuring the availability of health food now and in the future, as critical.
- More than 9 in every 10 respondents view “making sure food is produced in a sustainable way that ensures the availability of healthy food in the future” as a very high or somewhat high priority.
- Respondents consistently favor a process for setting dietary guidelines that accounts for the impact on the environment and the ability to protect the availability of healthy food.
- A strong majority of respondents want experts—not politicians—to set dietary guidelines. People are willing to hold politicians accountable for voting the wrong way on sustainability issues.
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