On Thursday, the USDA is set to unveil a new and simple graphic to help people choose what food to eat. The useless food pyramid, which has been confusing consumers for over 25 years, will be replaced by something more simple, according to the New York Times:
The circular plate, which will be unveiled Thursday, is meant to give consumers a fast, easily grasped reminder of the basics of a healthy diet. It consists of four colored sections [wedges], for fruits, vegetables, grains and protein, according to several people who have been briefed on the change. Beside the plate is a smaller circle for dairy, suggesting a glass of low-fat milk or perhaps a yogurt cup. read more…
What you need to know:
This is not the first time the USDA is changing the pyramid. Here is a picture of the original pyramid, which actually made some sense showing at the bottom foods that should be consumed more, and at the top food to consume less. The problem with the original pyramid is that it did not differentiate between whole grains and refined grains (white bread for example). And fat is not all bad – for example the fat in avocado, or nut and seeds.
In 2005, the USDA rolled the Pyramid over on its side to create MyPyramid, a totally unintelligible and useless graphic.
The USDA hopes that the new graphic, which reportedly has half of the plate dedicated to fruits and vegetables, can promote better food consumption habits.
But there is a bigger problem here. How can the USDA, a government body set up to promote agriculture and sales agricultural commodities be also charged with health recommendations? There is an inherent conflict of interest in helping farmers sell more corn, soy, and milk and at the same time helping people consume less food.
The government efforts are but a tiny drop in an ocean of savvy food marketing. Don’t hold your breath or expect the new campaign to instantly help America make better choices.