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Appendix to the Australian Dietary Guidelines: Dietary Guidelines through an environmental lens submission

This submission reflects the views of
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General Comments

To whom it may concern,

I fully endorse the inclusion of the addition of an appendix to the Australian Dietary Guidelines through an environmental lens, if environmental considerations are not to be included in the main body of the document. The interplay between individual and planetary health is critical and becoming more so, in the context of climate change and an increasing global population. Food and nutrition is central to these concerns, as the impact of food production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste on the environment is substantial. The long term sustainability of Australia's food and nutrition system is essential for national and household food security and for the the economic, environmental and social well-being of the nation.

My comments on the document are as follows:

G2 - I agree that currently, the evidence base for the impact of the food system on the environment is still scant and is currently derived mostly from Europe and North America. More resources need to be allocated to this area of research in the future, if Australia is going to be able to make meaningful recommendations about the way the population should be choosing and consuming food.

G3 - The guidelines through an environmental lens;

Guideline 2. Plenty of vegetables and fruit - choosing seasonal food appears to be a good recommendation. However, with the question of 'local' there is research from Victoria indicating that with smaller trucks involved in the distribution of food, may produce more carbon emissions than larger trucks (1). This is only one study, but caution needs to be taken with claims about 'local'. On other measures, such as social measures, I would endorse the use of local food systems. I also think that people who use community gardens that are close to their residence, or grow their own food, then clearly, from an environmental viewpoint, such systems should be encouraged. Perhaps there could be greater clarity around this point.

Clearer justification for people choosing a variety of grains needs to be made. How will the public make these choices? The same issue occurs with the use of a variety of dairy products.

Suggesting particular types of protein foods to mitigate carbon emissions seems a little premature, given there are few lifecycle analyses of different food products in the Australian context. There is some evidence available, but having these suggestions in an appendix at this early stage of the development of evidence seems unwise.

G4 Practical tips: Amongst the practical tips, I strongly endorse the idea of suggesting that the population not over consume food, eat seasonally, minimise waste - plan meals to avoid waste, recycle, compost, encourage worm farms, use efficient household electrical appliances especially refrigerators, use tap water, breastfeed. 

1. Estrada-Flores, S & Larsen, K. Best practice food distribution systems. 2010 Melbourne: Food chain intelligence and Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab.

Page reviewed: 4 February, 2013