2 June 2011

Latest food-lobby recommendations

The old food pyramid has now given way to the dinner plate:

As with the food pyramid, the recommendations are patently ridiculous and probably owe more to corporate lobbying than sound nutritional science. The veggies and protein are all fine, but do people need a significant amount of fruit in their diet. Maybe (assuming that we aren't talking about just bananas and oranges). And grains? For most Americans, this is Wonder bread or perhaps a cupcake at Starbucks. How many people eat healthy grains (for example, whole-grain wild rice) as their main staple? And even if they did, how much grain do overweight Americans really need? The inclusion of "dairy" is also stupefying. Nobody except baby cows really needs dairy. Of course, excluding it would piss off a farming lobby in some key states, so it's in there.

Conceptually, the plate doesn't really make sense. Protein is a biochemical constituent of food that occurs in the other groups--particularly dairy. The plate would be a lot better if we moved grains, fruit, and dairy into the separate dish and labeled it "occasional foods" and added a "nuts and other healthy fats" category (to include only healthy nuts like walnuts and almonds). The protein category could be replaced with one labeled "fish, eggs, beans, and other healthy proteins." In its present state, the categories are so vague that they're useless. Does a bag of french fries or popcorn satisfy the "veggie' requirement for the day? Most of the fried and overcooked veggies that Americans eat have virtually no virtues. If the old pyramid got an "F", this one gets a "D-".


goatboyslim said...

Growing up in the 60's, we were told to include something from the 4 basic food groups in every meal. This seems to be just another way to visualize that concept, which itself was a relic of the early 20's intent for nutritional education, the prevention of vitamin-deficiency caused diseases, such as pellagra,ricketts and scurvy. An admirable goal, but haven't we come a little further in our knowledge of ideal nutrition? If dairy is so necessary, for instance, why is 75% or so of the world's population lactose intolerant? And so on.....

Chris in Seattle said...

This can't be right. I don't see ketchup as a vegetable.

P Smith said...

Canada's food guide "rainbow" of the 1980s/1990s was better than the US's sliver "pyramid". And the new rainbow contains changes from the old one, but they are clearly not a result of lobbyists:

1992 Food Guide and "rainbow":


2011 Food Guide and "rainbow":



Chris in Seattle said...

Looking a little further -- following the link below which actually provides a link to the USDA site -- I think your criticism (and mine) is a little premature.

Anonymous said...

are you kidding me? osteoporosis is an issue as one ages and dairy is pretty much the way to get it. you dont need a lot, just a little in ones diet. its there not for its protein but for its calcium. you may want to rethink the 'nobody really NEEDS it but baby cows' bit....

that said all the rest is spot on. particularly with regard to the virtues of common American food. Having been watching Jamie Olivers LA Food Revolution after watching the first season in Huntington, all i can say is one is gobsmacked at how little good, real food people are getting.

for all the faults of the 'plate' if people even had some real veggies and real fruit and real grain (and a lot less protein, sugar and saturated fats) diabetes wouldnt be nearly the problem it is today (among other health issues).

Anonymous said...

organic dairy product such as raw cheese, cultured butter, yoghurt, and kiefer are very good for you.

Sprouted grain products ate the way to go when it comes to comsuming seed foods.

I highly recommend using Kamut, very good stuff mates.

vegetables grown organically in well cared for soil will always pack a nutrient dense punch vs. conventional corporate farmed vegetables.

When the soil is healthy so is the produce.
When the medium is in a state of decay so is the produce.
Good quality soil is the key to good quality produce.

you are what you eat...this holds true for all animals, including the one people consume.

feedlot cattle will always be inferior to an old fashioned grass fed cattle.

animals pumped full of steroids, antibiotics, and groth hormones will always be inferior to those that weren't.

when you find liver disease in a cow due to the way it was raise it should come as no suprise that the animal should not be consumed.

I recommend the documentarys 'Fresh' and "The Truth About Farmer John"
Both are a very good watch.

Karlo said...

I guess there's some improvement. I remember one of the old pyramids saying deserts were part of a wholesome diet--at least we aren't seeing that level of nonsense. I guess my biggest concern is that even when Americans eat the food-groups on the plate, the food is nutritionally suspect. One could argue, for example, that pizza is just about perfect since it contains all the recommended food groups in just about perfect proportions, but pizza is in fact something most people shouldn't really be eating due to the high sodium and all the empty calories.