• Posted by Califia Suntree on June 3rd, 2011, 4:53 PM

    Yesterday, the USDA released their revised food “pyramid” which is now, logically, shaped like a plate. The big news has been the demolition of the iconic food pyramid introduced in 1992; it had replaced the “Basic Four,” introduced in 1956, which in turn had replaced the “Basic Seven” (pictured at left). The pyramid had been excoriated by most nutritionists, mostly because it wasn’t clear which foods were actually and specifically good for you–based on the pyramid, it looks like I can have 2 to 3 burgers per day and be OK!–but also because of its overemphasis on the “bread, cereal, rice and pasta group.” As Marion Nestle points out, it demonstrates the USDA’s time-honored promotion of “American agricultural products,” meaning corn, wheat and soy, whether or not they’re best for our health. (They’re not, by the way.) I clearly remember starting high school at about the same time as the introduction of the pyramid, and getting carbs constantly shoved down my throat in nutrition and “life skills” classes (not literally; I did that for myself). It was all pasta, pasta, pasta back in those days!

    Anyway, the new plate takes us back to the Basic Four, the only differences being that fruit and veg are now separated into two groups, and the new visual indicates how much of each group each meal should contain (the Basic Four were divided into equal parts). As compared to the pyramid, fruit and vegetables are way more emphasized, which is great. But I wish we had just re-adopted that Basic Seven chart. It’s round; it covers pretty much the same ground (3 of the 7 “slices” are fruit and veg); it has a butter group; and it’s just so, so much more appealing and cute than the USDA’s “MyPlate.” Is it just me or doesn’t it kind of evoke the spinning wheel of death?

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