Oops! USDA "recommends" Meatless Mondays

Agriculture Department backtracks on "announcement" after complaints from NCBA.

July 30—For a short time last week, depending on one's point of view, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had either taken anunprecedented step toward embracing sustainability or taken leave of its senses. When an internal memo got posted to the USDA's website, it seemed as though the federal agency had thrown its support behind the Meatless Mondays campaign.

Within two hours of its posting, however, the memo was gone and the USDA was making apologies. USDA Press Secretary Courtney Rowe, quoting an unidentified USDA spokesperson, said, "USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday. The statement found on the USDA website was posted without proper clearance and it has been removed."

The "statement" was part of the USDA Greening Headquarters Update, an internal e-newsletter. It began, "One simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias is to participate in the 'Meatless Monday' initiative. This international effort, as the name implies, encourages people not to eat meat on Mondays." The newletter went on to list the reasons behind the initiative, closing with a note about the meatless options available at the USDA's dining room.

By mid-afternoon, the National Cattleman's Beef Association had issued a statement to news agencies excoriating the USDA, saying the recommendation calls into question USDA's commitment to U.S. farmers and ranchers. "This is truly an awakening statement by USDA, which strongly indicates that USDA does not understand the efforts being made in rural America to produce food and fiber for a growing global population in a very sustainable way," said NCBA President J. D. Alexander.

USDA's Rowe responded via email to the NCBA, and later reached out to news agencies with the retraction.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
leftovers containers

We use our Menu Forward idea to empower staff to develop menu items and keep leftovers in check. Product left at the end of service may be claimed by any station to become part of a new item within six weeks. I’m happy to see my star team fighting for their ideas and products; the benefit to food cost is spot-on, and my freezer has no mystery items lurking in the corner.

Ideas and Innovation
food allergy

When potential students come to campus, we match them with a student from our allergy support group for a tour of our dining facilities. The ambassador helps the potential student to understand how they navigated campus with their food allergy. This showcases what we do for allergies on campus, and is a highly successful way to make the students feel good about dining.

Menu Development
muse school produce

Kayla Webb, executive chef at Muse School, has transitioned the private K-12 day school in Calabasas, Calif., to an entirely vegan menu over a three-year period. Webb talks about her menuing, and how the school’s kitchen earned the title of “greenest restaurant in the world” from the Green Restaurant Association.

Q: How did you help parents get used to the idea of an all plant-based diet?

A: The first year, we didn’t announce it. We were just serving one plant-based meal a week, so it wasn’t that drastic. We do monthly Muse Talks where we invite different speakers to our school to...

Ideas and Innovation
lettuce dirt

Savor at McCormick Place developed the Green Thumb brand for menu items and products featuring its rooftop bounty; the latest is a pale ale made with the first crop of hops grown on the roof. Promoting that branding and the convention center’s green certification has brought in business from groups with a sustainability focus.

FSD Resources