Tag Archives: USDA

My Comment Letter To Secretary Burwell and Secretary Vilsack Regarding the 2015 Dietary Guideline Committee Recommendations…

Dear Secretary Burwell and Secretary Vilsack,

After researching the science of nutrition and the history of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, I write to you as a concerned American and a mother of three girls, as well as a cattle rancher. I have great misgivings with respect to the recommendations of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

While raising teenagers is inarguably a challenge, mentoring my own teenage girls through the “sea of dietary confusion” reminds me distinctly of an Iron Man Competition. The CDC reports that 9% of all girls age 12-19 are iron deficient. In particular, athletic girls require more animal protein which uniquely provides heme-iron to ensure good health. Yet, the recommended 2015 Dietary Guidelines reduce even further the recommended dietary intake of animal protein. The “one size fits all nature” of this approach to diet inaccurately provides for the American people, and the resulting dietary education as well as the lunch nutrition that my girls’ receive in the public school system thereby runs contrary to their needs.

The high carbohydrate/low fat diet that serves as the basis for the U.S. Dietary Guidelines stems from epidemiological work begun by Ancel Keys in the 1960’s. Repeatable clinical trial studies since Dr. Keys’ hypothesis was formed have not provided scientific validation to the proposed merits of the diet. A small number of clinical trials done on middle-aged men provide the only non-epidemiological scientific basis for this dietary recommendation. To date, there is virtually no scientific data supporting this hypothesis as healthy for women or children. Perhaps even more disturbing is the culture created in the nutritional community since the establishment of the first Dietary Goals in 1977. Actions include stymieing other diet hypotheses and scientific trial work that do not match the original Key hypothesis. For instance, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Committee refused to include the BOLD dietary research study in the reference section of their report thereby enabling them to “selectively choose their science” and further cut the recommendation for red meat.

Good science is both debatable and able to be replicated over time. Unfortunately, in addition to a biased approach to nutritional research, the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Committee Recommendations also include a further reach outside of documented science and into the realm of philosophy relative to the topic of sustainability. The science of sustainability is in its infancy. Much deeper analysis into topics like food waste and appropriate land use need to be completed before substantial information exists to promote one diet over another in the name of sustainability. Additionally, the topic of sustainability is clearly outside the scope of committee responsibilities.

In closing, I request that both of you do what is best for the American public and take a moment to read the research demonstrating that perhaps the high carbohydrate diet is part of the cause of the dietary ailments of Americans rather than the solution. In the lifetime of the Dietary Guidelines the culture of the American diet has shifted dramatically. According to USDA, the consumption of grains (41%), vegetables (23%) and fruits (13%) rose significantly from 1970-2005 while red meat (-22%), milk (-33%) and eggs (-17%) fell dramatically. Overall carbohydrate intake for Americans rose with low fat starches, and vegetable oil took the place of animal protein and fat in the diet. Animal protein lovers shifted from beef to chicken, and many traded whole fat dairy for skim milk and margarine thereby forsaking nutrition density for lower saturated fat options. All of this occurred during a time in the United States when obesity rates more than doubled (15-32%), the prevalence of heart failure, cancer and stroke all increased, and the rate of diabetes increased from less than 1% to 11%. Clearly, the dietary changes caused by dietary guidelines resulted in an “unhealthier America” as Americans traded protein for sugar.

I ask you to help put the science back in nutrition by:
1.Recognizing that the nutrient requirements of Americans vary according to age and sex thereby rendering a one size fits all approach to diet both ineffective and potentially harmful to women and children.
2.Including diverse animal protein options (including beef and whole fat dairy) as part of a balanced and healthy diet.
3.Encouraging a robust and healthy dietary science community where hypotheses are proven before they are sold as truth, and studies on all hypotheses are universally included in the discussion.
4.Removing all verbiage relative to sustainability from the dietary guidelines as that topic is both outside the realm of the committee as well as lacking the necessary scientific basis to be meaningful.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Anne Burkholder

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Filed under General, Nutrition (cattle and human)

Did You Know?

  • Did you know that every animal is inspected by a USDA employee before it is cleared for harvest?
  • Did you know that FSIS (Food Safety Inspection Service) inspects all carcasses during the harvest process to ensure that your beef is safe?
  • Did you know that federal law states that meat can not be shipped or sold without the USDA inspection seal that is given once the above two things have happened?
  • Did you know that this week the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, threatened to furlough USDA and FSIS employees for at least two weeks beginning March 1st which would effectively shut down meat production in the United States?
  • I can tell you that knowing the answer to all of these questions has led me to several sleepless nights this week.  Yesterday afternoon, I decided to write the Secretary a letter which is listed below.  If you are compelled to contact the Secretary, you can send him an email at: Tom.Vilsack@usda.govDSC03744

 

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

 I write to you today with a heavy heart.  I am saddened, I am ashamed, and I am angry.  I feel all of these emotions because of your threatening words regarding a forthcoming furlough of FSIS employees.  As you know, that furlough would shut down the 6290 packing plants and processing facilities across the United States because it is illegal to slaughter and ship meat without the USDA inspection seal.

 Not only would this furlough directly affect the thousands of employees of those packing and processing facilities, but it would also affect every farmer in the nation and the millions of consumers that purchase the products that we work so hard to grow.

 My husband and I own and operate a diversified farm in Dawson   County, Nebraska.  We raise both crops and cattle using a combination of traditional and organic farming practices.  Our livelihood revolves around food animal production, and we have spent the last two decades tirelessly working to build a viable farming business.  This business becomes non-viable if animals cannot be slaughtered for meat production purposes.  Even the 2 week shutdown that you threaten will cause great hardship to us.

 Whether your threatening words are signs of a new reality or simply an attempt to play politically motivated games with Congress, they negatively affect our family farming business.  Scare tactics that involve the production of food are simply irresponsible and I am gravely disappointed in your behavior.  I believe that it is your job as the Secretary of Agriculture to calmly lead our nation’s food growers and aid them in their vital task of feeding their fellow countrymen. 

 Forgive me, sir, but it certainly appears to me that you are being severely derelict in your duties.  As I watch from Nebraska, the livelihood of my farming business is being jeopardized in the name of politics.  You, President Obama, and the rest of the administration are threatening the food and fiber of our country with your actions.  I would like to take a minute to remind you that you are tampering with both my livelihood and our country’s food security.

 In the coming weeks, I sincerely hope that you will designate FSIS inspectors as “essential personnel” and exempt them from the furlough.  Additionally, I pray that you will discontinue engaging in scare tactics that negatively affect farmers like me who work so diligently to raise safe and healthy food.

 I invite you to take some time to visit my blog site so that you can learn more about two of the many farmers that rely on you for leadership and support.  You can access my blog site at http://www.feedyardfoodie.com/.

 

Sincerely,

 Anne Burkholder

Cozad, Nebraska

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Filed under Farming, General

Redefining Breakfast…

Our house has always been a “cereal and fruit” breakfast place.  Most of that stems from the fact that I go to work before 6:00am every morning so my girls have learned to fend for themselves.  Cereal and fruit require little cooking and are fast and easy to fix…

My cattle eat breakfast at the same time that my children do, so Daddy is in charge of breakfast at our house…

There are times on the weekends when one of my older girls will make home-made pancakes (my grandfather has a secret recipe that is awesome!), or they will con their daddy into making home-made crepes with strawberries.  But, up until this week, cereal and fruit have provided the mainstay on school mornings.

As you all know, my girls went back to school last week.  You may or may not be aware that school lunch requirements as dictated by the USDA have changed significantly this school year.  These changes were precipitated by Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” program designed to reduce childhood obesity.

She’s long and lean and needs to be properly “fueled”…

While I am a huge fan of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and fully support seeing more of a priority placed on these food items in the lunchroom; I am truly at a loss at the calorie and protein limits that are also included in the new school lunch plan.  As a seventh grader, my favorite Junior High Cross Country runner will only receive between 9-10 ounces of meat per week and 600-700 calories per day if she chooses to eat school lunch…

For someone who leaves home at 7:45am, goes to school all day, and then has Cross Country practice until 5:30 at night, the new school lunch leaves her body nutritionally unprepared for the demands that are being made on it.  As a young athlete who is still growing and developing, she needs some ZIP (Zinc, Iron, Protein) to get her through the day.  A 2 ounce hamburger is just plain not enough…

Neither are Cross Country races…

Matt and I spent the weekend discussing what we could do to solve this problem.  This week, we are “redefining breakfast” at the Feed Yard Foodie house.  Matt is taking up residence as a short order breakfast cook.  The cereal and fruit that used to be on the menu are now being replaced with needed protein and a hot meal to help my girls get through the day.

Hot oatmeal, bacon, eggs, pancakes, and breakfast burritos with eggs and hamburger will likely all appear on the menu as we venture through the week…

Only time will tell what Chef Matt will come up with–I am simply thankful that he is such a devoted daddy 🙂

While I am confident that Matt and I can come up with a compromise at our house to make sure that our girls get enough to eat, I am frustrated that this is an issue.  I worry that other children whose parents do not have the time, money or motivation to get up and cook for them will suffer.

We live in a small community where many of the Junior High and High School students do a sport after school.  Universal participation is necessary so that our school can have sports teams.  These young athletes need a good lunch that will carry them through the afternoon and its physical challenges.

Our school lunch program needs to FUEL THEM so that they can MOVE!

Does anyone have breakfast menu suggestions for Chef Matt to help him fuel our girls for the day?

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Filed under General, Nutrition (cattle and human)