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Agriculture This Week: Making sense of food choices

The key is assimilating the data being tossed out and finding a balance that works in the kitchen for each of us.
What is best for us to eat? Mixed messages abound. (File Photo)

YORKTON - There are times that farmers have to wonder what exactly consumers are thinking when it comes to their decisions about what they put on the dinner table.

There are so many factors the consumer is being asked to consider today that makes understanding their final decisions often confusing to understand.

There are those promoting the idea of livestock being sentient and so should be off the menu.

There are those who point to livestock as being greenhouse gas emitters and so to combat global weather changes should be off the menu, which one imagines means eating up the existing herds and basically stopping further production – which for some breeds at least could well mean extinction which could have future impacts not well understood today.

Others worry livestock consumes feed from acres that they believe would be better suited to grains for human consumption.

While most of the above reasons might best be described as morale ones, there is also the mixed messages regarding what is best for humans in terms of what feeds our bodies best.

“Meat, eggs and milk offer crucial sources of much-needed nutrients which cannot easily be obtained from plant-based foods, a new report issued recently by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) says in an online release on the organization website.

However, revisions to the Canada Food Guide released in 2019 are pointedly different. The updated Food Guide emphasized plant-based foods and advised Canadians to consume less milk and meat.

One can sympathize if consumers aren’t quite sure which message is best for their families.

Ultimately, barring issues such as allergies or medical conditions limiting what one eats, it would seem as in most things, moderation is a good starting place from which to determine family menus. Too much of anything; from raw sugars, to salt, to cured meats to any other menu item is not likely the best option.

It is also likely most any food in moderation is not going to be horrible for some unless the aforementioned issues are present.

Is eating beef or pork OK? Well for most the answer is no doubt yes. The same can be said for consuming legumes as a protein source.

The better answer still is quite likely a diet with some of both on the menu regularly.

And let’s not forget humans have been drinking animal milks for centuries, so to suddenly think that is bad seems unlikely, although perhaps consumption needs to be adjusted for lifestyle. Most of us do not do the physical work we would have even 50 years ago, so our nutrient needs are going to be different.

The key is assimilating the data being tossed out and finding a balance that works in the kitchen for each of us.