USDA abandons food pyramid

Posted: June 2, 2011 in Fitness, Health, Obesity, Uncategorized, Weight Loss
Tags: , , ,

That’s right. The much-maligned food pyramid discussed in earlier posts is headed for the scrap heap, according to a great article in the Los Angeles Times:

“I call it foodless and useless,” said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. “It was unteachable. You couldn’t explain what the colors stood for.”

Wonder if she’s any relation to the chocolate Nestle. At any rate, the article, written by Amina Khan, also explains how other countries have approached the problem of clearly representing the best dietary choices:

In China, a five-tiered pagoda has distinct levels for starches, produce, protein, dairy and oils. In Guatemala, a traditional ceramic cooking pot called an olla is filled with pictures of pineapple, fish and bags of maize.

Grenada, which calls itself the “Isle of Spice,” showcases its food circle inside a cracked-open nutmeg. The government of the Dominican Republic displays its nutrition advice inside a mortar and pestle filled with eggs, avocados and other foodstuffs that stand on a cutting board imprinted with images of a baby smiling, crawling and suckling a mysteriously detached breast.

In spite of this diversity, the food icons generally concur on what belongs in a daily diet: Lots of greens, easy on the sweets.

‎”No food pyramid? That was my favorite Egyptian mortuary-based nutritional diagram,”  says Stephen Colbert. So where is the USDA headed now?  The USDA is going to MyPlate? Wait, isn’t that already claimed by Livestrong’s food logging tool is MyPlate? Will the USDA be getting calls from Lance Armstrong’s lawyers?  Here’s the new deal:

Regardless of the USDA’s new pitch as the way of looking at food, there will be people to argue about it, whether because they can empirically prove the USDA wrong or they just don’t want to change their eating habits. (My only gripe: It’s really not that self-explanatory. The portions all look about the same and don’t distinguish between fatty protein and the lean stuff.) For instance, sayeth Marion Nestle (Marion Nestle again? She’s everywhere!) to Scientific American:

I don’t think it goes far enough, but it’s certainly headed in the right direction. I think it’s actually pretty great. You can show someone and say, “Your dinner plate should look like this.” And they’ll say you’re out of your mind. For most of us meat has made up most of the meal. This is a huge change, and I think it’s courageous. Nobody profits from fruits and vegetables — except for the growers, and they don’t make very much. All the money is in processing food and the intermediate steps.

And even more people, to paraphrase the now 75-year-old “Gone With the Wind,” frankly, my dear, won’t give a damn.*

*I re-read “Gone With the Wind” a few years back for the first time since I was a kid. Wow, is it racist. Great plot and characters, but, omigod, racist. Weird that the movie is noted for having earned Hattie McDaniel (Mammy) an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, making her the first African-American to be awarded the little gold man. But if you want to understand white Southerners who still seem to be fighting the Civil War, read it. It’s how they’re conditioned to think about the Antebellum South, which is why when I was a kid, you’d still see signs like “Save your Dixie cups, the South will rise again.” And why some cling to the Stars and Bars (aka the Confederate flag). 

  1. David says:

    Finally, it is dead. Now, we just need to get rid of the BMI and maybe main stream nutrition will catch up with reality. Just maybe.

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