The Big Debate Over America's Food Pyramid

We live in a day and age where people are thinking both about how to better their bodies and the world we live in, which is why experts are looking at the food pyramid for reducing some of the burden caused by carbon gas emissions.

According to a report, more and more research is finding that raising meat animals, especially cows "with their belching of greenhouse gases, trampling of the landscape and need for massive amounts of water," is contributing to the global-warming epidemic.

This is leading some experts to suggest the food pyramid should be reworked to reflect the environmental impact of what exactly we put on our plates.

"We can't solve the climate problem with just what we are doing with fossil fuels and energy," says Doug Boucher, director of climate research at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "Food is a big part of it."

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Some proponents of an altered food pyramid, now shaped like a dinner plate, are imagining what the new look might be like—like Italy's Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition, which created dual pyramids. One is the traditional food pyramid, while the other is a flipped "Environmental Pyramid." Beef is listed as the least healthy and least environmentally friendly food on both the Barilla Center charts.

Now, Congress basically said in December that dietary guidelines need to deal only with nutrition—but there are probably some loopholes, especially if sustainability is buried deep inside recommendations. Expect the debate to continue.

If nothing else comes of the hubbub, though, it may at least get people to start thinking about how their food is produced, and the impacts of getting it from farm to table.

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"When we think about the ways to reduce our environmental impact, diets don't typically come up," Emily Cassidy, a research analyst at the Environmental Working Group, tells the LA Times. "But they play a major role...this is something Americans want to know more about."

One thing's for sure, now is not a bad time to up your veggie-dish or chicken-dinner game—in the name of mastering new meals and helping the environment.

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This article originally appeared on Self.com

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Jenna Birch

SELF gives you great advice on being healthy, happy, slimmer, fitter and less stressed.

SELF gives you great advice on being healthy, happy, slimmer, fitter and less stressed.

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