By: Ben Morris

Sustainability is the new key factor in the new Food Guide. Minimally-processed foods like beans and nuts consume less energy to produce; providing similar health benefits to individuals because of there high protein content. Foods that involve more processing have a larger impact on the environment.

Mary Stockdale is a Geography Professor at the University of British Columbia and long-time activist of food sovereignty, insecurity, and sustainability. Mary’s research shows that the difference in environmental impact of livestock compared to beans and nuts is equivalent to driving over 6,000 kilometers in a regular petrol car.

“I was surprised to hear that the developers of this version of the guide had decided to wall themselves off from any industry lobbying, and focus solely on scientific input related to nutrition, health and the environment” says Stockdale. “I expect there may be some impact on some agricultural industries, especially dairy and meat, but they will not disappear. I imagine that demand might be reduced, though.”

The Diary Farmers of Canada have increased their presence in Ottawa since the release of the Food Guide according to CBC. Lobbying for what they believe could have a negative impact on their business. Their claims are relevant as small farmers who are directly in charge of production will be negatively impacted the most. What the Government is recommending is that a consumer needs to be aware of where their products are coming from. Instead of purchasing dairy products from a grocery chain, buy local produce to bring down the overall economic and environmental costs of the desired goods.

The updated food guide recommends replacing saturated fats with a higher proportion of plant-based foods for cardiovascular and bodily functions. Gabrielle Fundaro, of RP Nutrition, approves of the new Food Guide because in an ideal world, a “diet should be composed mainly of minimally-processed, nutrient-dense food to deliver all of the vitamins and minerals that we need.” Suggesting a sustainable diet is one that contains minimally-processed foods, with a high proportion of vitamins and minerals compared to that of proteins and fats. “These diet recommendations truly depend on your lifestyle and what you want from your own body.”