Last March I went to the famous strawberry fields in La Trinidad, Benguet while on an overnight stay in the Philippines summer capital Baguio City. The trip was worth it in many ways. The climate was invigorating and the farms offered bountiful harvests of fresh greens, glorious sunflowers, and sun-ripened strawberries. The experience of picking fresh strawberries in the last light of the setting sun was both amazing and poignant
But what was more amazing was the abundance of fresh produce that greeted me and my friends as we trudged out of the fields and into the fresh market place. Newly harvested vegetables and crops were sold by the kilos at very low prices. We came back to Baguio City that night laden not with store-bought commodities but with kilos of fresh produce.
I went home thinking that residents of La Trinidad and Baguio understood the importance of cultivating a healthy and sustainable dietary lifestyle. They would certainly agree with the principles of Brazil’s newly released food guidelines, which emphasizes the bigger picture of dietary well being and health over confusing calorie calculations. Treehugger provides a simple translation of Brazil’s food guidelines for 2014:
- 1. Prepare meals from staple and fresh foods.
- 2. Use oils, fats, sugar and salt in moderation.
- 3. Limit consumption of ready-to-consume food and drink products.
- 4. Eat regular meals and pay attention to what you’re eating. Don’t snack and don’t multitask while eating.
- 5. Eat in appropriate environments. Avoid all-you-can-eat settings.
- 6. Eat in company whenever possible.
- 7. Buy food at places that offer varieties of fresh foods. Avoid those that mainly sell products ready for consumption.
- 8. Always give preference to locally produced and seasonal produce.
- 9. Develop, practice, share and enjoy your skills in food preparation and cooking.
- 10. Plan ahead to give meal prep and eating their proper time and space.
- 11. Be critical of the commercial advertisement of food products.
- 12. When you eat out, choose restaurants that serve freshly made dishes and meals. Avoid fast food chains.
(See original document here in Portuguese.)
Treehugger praises Brazil’s new guidelines for its clarity and straightforwardness. The guidelines are simple enough for everyone to follow, skipping the usual nutrients and minerals list as well as percentages and calculations. While these are also beneficial to an extent, they tend to leave average customers confused and frustrated. In contrast, the full document explains which foods to eat more of and which ones to eat less without splitting hairs about milligrams or other unnecessarily confusing details.
Also, the guidelines emphasize a ‘slow food’ culture underlined by conscious choices to eat at home and with good company. Professor Marion Nestle of nutrition, New York University, said “I think it’s terrific that [they] promote real food, cooking, and family meals, rather than worrying about the nutritional quality of processed foods or dealing with single nutrients.”
Fulfilling our basic daily need for good and healthy food never needs to be complicated. However, choosing a lifestyle that promotes physical well being and environmental health over quick gratification at societal and environmental expense is a choice we have to make everyday.
What do you think of Brazil’s new food guidelines? Share your thoughts in the comments below.