How to make the most of your grasslands
article The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) are taking a page out of the book of grasslands and the landscape architect, creating a “grassland-friendly energy pyramid” that includes “all of the basic nutrients, including minerals, that the grasslands need.”
These include “natural” and “natural gas,” as well as “organic” and the “composted.”
The pyramid is modeled after the “Energy Pyramid” designed by the U.K.’s Natural Resource Conservation Office (NRCO) and based on the recommendations of the National Grasslands Council (NGCC).
In its place, the USDA is proposing to add “organic, biodynamic, and non-GMO” ingredients to the pyramid, along with “nutrients like potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc” as well.
“Natural” and natural gas will also be added to the Pyramid.
The USDA is also creating a new list of “organic organic foods” that will include “fresh, locally grown organic foods, and local, sustainable, and sustainably produced organic food products.”
This is a huge step in the right direction, considering the USDA already lists organic foods as one of its priorities for its “energy pyramid.”
The pyramid also includes nutrient values for a number of “nutrient deficiencies,” and it includes nutrients that are more common in the food supply than in the environment.
“Foods with higher nutrient deficiencies in our food system are less nutritious, which means they are more costly, and therefore have less purchasing power in the marketplace,” says USDA Natural Resource Coordinator, Karen Hockett.
What’s more, the pyramid also calls for “plant-based” foods like beans, peas, lentils, nuts, and eggs to be included.
The USDA also includes the USDA’s Green Food Guide and the USDA Organic Food Reference Guide as additional sources for nutritional information.
This is a significant step in addressing the growing problem of nutrient deficiency in our society, which has been blamed for a slew of diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and asthma.
The food pyramid is also the first USDA program to be based on a “green” concept of food, rather than a “organic,” “natural,” or “natural-gas” concept.
“We’re working with the USDA and the NRCO to develop a more sustainable, nutrient-dense food pyramid for the American public that includes a wide variety of foods from natural and organic sources, while simultaneously protecting our most vulnerable communities,” says NCPCA Executive Director of Science and Technology, Bobbi Smith.
NPCB’s Smith adds, “This is the first time in history that USDA has worked with an industry to identify nutrients in a food pyramid that’s based on science and that’s actually more sustainable and has a lot more nutrition in it.”
According to the USDA, the “energy” pyramid will include nutrient values from “organic sources like organic produce, eggs, dairy, fish, and seafood, organic grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes, and healthy fats and oils.”
For the first four years of the pyramid’s operation, the list of nutrients and nutrients deficiencies will be “based on the latest science and recommendations from the NGRCC and NRCO, which will be updated regularly to ensure that the pyramid is being sustainable and accurate.”
As part of this effort, the government has also created a “Healthy Foods and Nutrition Council” that would provide guidance and advice on food quality and nutritional content for “organic and non organic foods,” including dairy products, egg products, and “non-GFCI” oils.
For more on the USDA pyramid, read this report from the NRCo, which details the project and its findings.