Roger Stevens
Roger Stevens

About 150 pork producers from across the country will give a piece of their mind this week to lawmakers in Washington, D.C. Several important issues will be discussed, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), EPA's "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) rule and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

According to NPPC, producers will be asking their members of Congress to support a TPP agreement that includes Japan, only if that country eliminates tariffs on pork. They're also urging members to demand that EPA withdraw its proposed WOTUS rule and recraft it with input from affected stakeholders, including agriculture. On the dietary guidelines, producers will ask lawmakers to ensure that lean protein, including pork, be included in the recommendations for a healthy diet.

This last item is interesting because it smacks of an overbearing government that insists it knows what you should be eating; in this case, less meat, including less pork.

Americans today eat about as much pork as they did 100 years ago. Although the pork back then was much different from today’s lean pork, many people consider today’s pork to be a much healthier product than what was eaten many years ago.

This doesn’t seem to make much difference to the executive director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, which oversees the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. This committee formulates the government’s recommendations of which foods (and how much of those foods) people should eat. The recommendations are updated every five years with the new guidelines set to be published next year.

Hired in July to oversee the development of these new recommendations, Angela Tagtow is clear about what she feels people should eat: less red meat. Tagtow also founded Environmental Nutrition Solutions with a mission of “cultivating an ecological approach to food and health.” (

Considering the environmental impact of what foods we should eat makes no sense at all. We should base our preferences for food based solely on nutritional qualities.

All of this reminds me of my childhood when my mother used to insist I eat the Brussels sprouts on my plate. Having my mother tell me what I should eat is one thing, but, as an adult, having the government tell me what I should eat is absurd.

First they tried to tell us we shouldn’t eat butter. Then they said we shouldn’t eat margarine. First they told us to eat less fat. Now they think we should consume fewer carbohydrates.

The fact is, even a dietitian will tell you that the only good diet is one you enjoy, because if you can’t stick with a diet, it does you absolutely no good in the end.

All of these conflicting healthy food choices over the years just leave a bad taste in my mouth. It is better to not even consider whether a food is healthy or not. All we need to do is savor it in the company of friends and family.

I imagine most pork producers agree with me. And I hope the producers in Washington, D.C. this fall make sure our lawmakers understand that telling us what to eat is none of their business.