And round and round we grow.

We’re all pretty familiar with the current food pyramid, compliments of our stellar USDA.

But did you know that before the food pyramid, there was a food wheel?

Yep, back in 1943 butter was its own food group. Hat tip to @GuyKawasaki who mentioned this on Twitter this morning. (This poster is from the “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam? The Government’s Effect on the American Diet” exhibit at the National Archives, opening June 10.)

There’s been lots of talk of revamping the outdated and misleading food pyramid after the government’s latest dietary guidelines were released in January, and I’ve been curious to see it. Finally this week, the USDA has released their latest brainchild, the food plate.

Have you seen it yet?

At least fruits and vegetables have replaced grains as the mainstay of the diet, but unfortunately there is still no differentiation between good and bad sources of vegetables, proteins, and grains.

Yes, I know we aren’t supposed to say any food is “bad” — far be it for me to assign morality to food. But, I stand by it. Some food is just bad for you. Sorry. It doesn’t mean I don’t ever indulge, don’t get me wrong, and I don’t feel guilty about it when I do. But denatured food products that inhibit our immune systems are certainly not good. They’re not even neutral. But I digress.

It also bothers me that the new guidelines recommend fruit as 1/4 of the diet — I mean, it beats grains, but really, we don’t need that much fruit. Vegetables, yes. Fruits, no. There’s a lot of sugar in fruit.

And um, WHERE IS THE FAT on that plate? The body needs good fats.

Of course they continue to recommend low fat dairy products, which are generally higher in sugar and often contain stabilizers to maintain consistency, to say nothing of possibly reducing fertility in women. And also? You need that fat to digest the vitamins A and D in the milk. So really, this low fat dairy fad has GOT TO GO.

But at least they are advising us to eat less overall. That’s something. Although it’s not clear from this picture. I mean, if I filled my plate to emulate this picture, I’d be an elephant. There definitely needs to be more discussion about portion sizes.

All things considered, the new food plate is an improvement, if still far from optimal. I just wish I thought it would actually help people rethink how they eat. Does anyone really think this is going to make a difference?

Despite all of my criticisms, I was actually thinking they hadn’t done half bad coming up with the new guidelines when I read this:

Dr. Post said the U.S.D.A. had spent about $2 million to develop and promote the logo.


Are you KIDDING ME? It took TWO MILLION dollars to come up with a picture to tell people to eat more vegetables and fruits?

No wonder our country’s in debt.

What do you think about the new Food Plate? Tax money well spent? Or did we just toss $2 mil down the drain?

Finally, I leave you with this. In all my googling, I came across this post by Ruth Bourdain: There. That Looks Better. Go ahead. CLICK.

NOW we’re talking.

Join the Conversation

17 thoughts on “And round and round we grow.

  1. $2 Million?? SERIOUSLY?!??

    I say it is a definite improvement — but sadly, for way too many children, “vegetable” still means french fries and “fruit” means canned fruit in syrup or ‘froot snaks’ and “grain” means white bread…..

  2. All I have to say is that too many people in this country, and especially those running this country, lack common sense. Good grief! I could have told them that for $2 million!

  3. Does anyone really consider the “plate” or any other pyramid when making their meal decisions? It’s merely something to quiz our kids on in health 101. Whether you agree with the plate or not, healthy eaters will continue to eat what they consider healthy and fast foodies will continue to eat fast food. 2 million dollars? Really!

  4. Do you have any idea how many people I could educate on the basics of cooking with $2 million dollars. Do you know how far that money could go toward health if people were ABLE to prepare a few basic meals instead of swinging through the drive through.
    That’s depressing.

  5. I totally agree! These days I’m not suprized the gov’t would spend this insane amount of money on something that continues to be as clear as mud to the american people. That is what these big companies want, so we will continue to buy their products! If American’s are confused then they won’t change. This is why we are trying to make a concious effort to buy our foods directly from the farmer. Food that comes from it’s natural source doesn’t have to be scary–it’s quick, easy, and fun! We used to be so busy we went for what we thought was quick and easy, when really what is truly quick and easy is growing all around us (and a whole lot cheaper than McD’s) Thanks for this post!!! 🙂

  6. Yep, total waste of money. My 7 year old coulda whipped that out in a minute or two. Ugh.

    And you are SO right about the healthy fats missing and the fruit portion.

    I guess at least we’re moving in the right direction…

    p.s. I love how the blue section on the food wheel says “POTATOES and other vegetables and fruits”- oh my lands!!

  7. What I find sad is that the people who really need this guidance cannot afford to eat properly. What really needs to change is how the food industry works in the US, not how we are told to eat. Subsidies need to go to farms producing the fruits and veggies so that we can all eat better, not to corn and soy farmers who add to the processed food issues we face… There are so many things wrong with the food industry in this country that I think those $2 million could have been better spent. Most of us already know that fruits and veggies are healthy – so make them more accessible.

  8. That new plate thing is so un-specific! It’s useless. If they wanted to pay somebody 2 million for that, I would have been happy to have drawn it for them. Geez.

  9. Looks like a logo re-design to me – nothing else. And really, it doesn’t help any. What they really need to start doing is re-educating people on what’s good for you. Since they’ve beat it into everyone’s brain that their chemically modified foods are the best.

  10. 2 million! Yikes. They should have hired YOU to create the logo…and spent, say, a quarter of that cost. 😉

    It does appear to be an improvement, but I agree that it is lacking. I do wish our country would acknowledge the benefits of whole dairy products.

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