Beef, pork and poultry producers... is this the agency you want representing your best interests? I just read a portion of USDA's "Greening Headquarters Update." Specifically, I read the "Food Service Updates:"
And if you think the report is "just" from USDA's cafeteria staff, let me pull a quote from the first paragraph -- the first line: "The USDA Headquarters Food Operations are a high profile opportunity to demonstrate USDA's commitment to USDA mission and initiatives. As I read that, it's clear this update is representative USDA's mission and initiative. And the mission and initiative starts at the top of the agency and trickles down. This makes if very clear leadership at USDA does not look upon U.S. animal ag with a postive light.
Okay... here's the Food Service Update:
The USDA Headquarters Food Operations are a high profile opportunity to demonstrate USDA’s commitment to USDA mission and initiatives. In addition to the many USDA employees who come to our cafeterias, thousands of tourists and visitors also come to our cafeterias each month. Currently, a Selection Panel is reviewing food service contractor submissions. Once the review is completed, the panel will make a recommendation to the Source Selection Authority that will make the final decision. The new contract, which should be awarded later this year, calls for our cafeterias to become models for healthy eating and “sustainable” operations.
The new Food Service Contract encouraged the use of food and beverage items that are fresh and locally grown or otherwise made or procured in the closest possible proximity to Washington D.C., and the preparation of meals that contribute to a balanced diet and contain the fewest possible additives. By sourcing locally and sustainably grown food, our program will help support sustainable food systems as a way of contributing to the vitality, environmental sustainability, and quality of life in the region. In addition to the food and beverages, the “back of the house” operations will also support USDA missions, including waste reduction programs (conservation of natural resources) and the use of environmentally preferable products including products that are certified BioPreferred (http://www.biopreferred.gov). So soon, you should be seeing some interesting changes in our cafeterias!
One simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias is to participate in the “Meatless Monday” initiative. This international effort, as the name implies, encourages people not to eat meat on Mondays. Meatless Monday is an initiative of The Monday Campaign Inc. in association with the John Hopkins School of Public Health.
How will going meatless one day of the week help the environment? The production of meat, especially beef (and dairy as well), has a large environmental impact. According to the U.N., animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change. It also wastes resources. It takes 7,000 kg of grain to make 1,000 kg of beef. In addition, beef production requires a lot of water, fertilizer, fossil fuels, and pesticides.
In addition there are many health concerns related to the excessive consumption of meat. While a vegetarian diet could have a beneficial impact on a person’s health and the environment, many people are not ready to make that commitment. Because Meatless Monday involves only one day a week, it is a small change that could produce big results.