Thursday, June 9, 2011

No More Food Pyramid

So it looks like the USDA's come out with yet another revision to the food pyramid.

This time, it's called MyPlate:


What do you guys think of this incredibly innovative new way of thinking about food? (sense some dripping sarcasm there?)

What ways of eating might this visual perpetuate, in terms of what proper food is? How is it different than the food pyramid that many of us grew up with? What is the USDA (and Michelle Obama, who helped back this) saying about what we should and shouldn't eat, and how much of it?

I'd love to have some discussion about this, and the way that government shapes assumptions about a healthy diet.

5 comments:

  1. I guess you can't get "protein" from dairy, grains, or vegetables....

    Also, apart from the "half your plate should be grains/vegetables" idea, this thing is pretty hard to use. Those wedges give the impression that one's plate should be carefully portioned and yet they're very hard to read. Are the grains and vegetables wedges the same size? Protein and fruits? Not only is the symbology inconsistent (the wedges don't have proportional dimensions), but size is a really awful visual variable for making comparisons. Sadly, a pie chart would have been better.

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  2. It's confusing. There's no hierarchy at all, except for the dairy not getting to be on the plate.

    I automatically try to translate it into actual foods (e.g. orange slices, brown rice, asparagus, & ham - with ice cream on the side? a glass of milk?), but don't really see it translating into the way people think about meals. Is this for every meal? Over the course of a day? Averaging out over a week?

    I guess the literal plate makes it more difficult for me than the abstract pyramid. Too rigid.

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  3. I think big government needs to get its hands off my dinner plate. Since they rolled out these new socialist regulations, I've been forced to cut back my weekly platter-sized Salisbury steak (the hundred percenter, I call it) to a 90 degree shadow of its former self.

    Plus, why is dairy blue? I think we all know that blue dairy is a tacit endorsement of a French lifestyle (ie transsexual) over our own. Color that cheese ORANGE, OBAMA! Will somebody start a petition about this, please?

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  4. In seriousness, I guess upon consideration I like it a little better than the pyramid. The pyramid always gave me the impression that I was somehow doing something wrong if I didn't eat six to ten dinner rolls every day. It also gave the vague connotation that there was some kind of hierarchy with "fats and sugar" or whatever at the top and the meat/dairy gentry immediately underneath. (Starches = the strong-backed proletariat, of course.) I'm reading the plate thing as sending this message:

    About half your diet should be fruits and vegetables, about a quarter should be grains, and about a quarter should be meat or another protein-dense food. Supplement with a small amount of dairy. Exact proportions don't matter as much as getting the general gist.

    Pretty straightforward, and I think intentionally vague. When making nutritional recommendations, I'd rather have a general guideline than a fine-tuned ideal. The sizes of the wedges does indeed bother me, especially as a math teacher, but I guess I can get over that.

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  5. I think one of the things that bothers me most is the way it seems to suggest that all meals come in these divisions of the four food groups, rather than leaving space for dishes made of mixed ingredients, like those that are more common to non-American cuisines. It doesn't seem to leave room for the curries, the stir fries, the lasagnas, the stews. Does a meal have to be a piece of baked chicken with a roll and a side of green beans and an orange, with milk to drink? I know it doesn't, and yet the MyPlate image makes it harder to imagine alternatives to this boring and meat-centric way of eating. As a thoughtful Civil Eats review suggests, this graphic still focuses on quantity, rather than quality. Read that whole article here: http://civileats.com/2011/06/15/my-beef-with-myplate/

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