USDA ditches food pyramid, adopts a plate

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has bid farewell to the food pyramid and has introduced its new healthful eating website and icon:

Without argument, the new icon is certainly less confusing than the triangular shaped rainbow mess the USDA has been using the past six years:

But, the new icon is still incredibly vague. Since the purpose of the USDA implementing the icon is to promote nutritious eating habits, the logo could easily have included the phrases “Fresh Fruits,” “Fresh Vegetables,” “Whole Grains,” and “Lean Proteins.”

I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction, but once again it seems to have missed the mark. What is your reaction?

11 comments posted

  1. Posted by Rae - 06/02/2011

    If it’s anything like our equivalent in Canada it’s sponsored by dairy farms and other folks who have a vested interested in people eating a certain amount of a certain food group every day instead of being based on science and true nutritional need. It’s no better or worse than the pyramid.

  2. Posted by Rue - 06/02/2011

    @Rae – I wouldn’t say that this was sponsored by anyone with a vested interest. It’s actually quite an even distribution of everything, particularly compared to the last few pyramids the USDA has gone through.

  3. Posted by melissa - 06/02/2011

    i was very disappointed in the “plate”. i wish they would adopt Harvard’s guide to healthy eating–it’s the closest thing i have seen to a REAL healthy diet. There’s a picture of their pyramid in this link, as well as an article with more information about healthy eating.

  4. Posted by Brenda - 06/02/2011

    It’s certainly a good start. People who find the notion of preparing vegetables daunting would probably be put off by the term ‘fresh vegetables’. I believe the idea is to get people to think about proportions and just try foods from the different groups in the first place, regardless of whether the vegetables are fresh or frozen, or the grains wholewheat or not.

  5. Posted by paige - 06/03/2011

    Erin, govt school lunches have to follow USDA recommendations. If they had labled as you suggested then they would lose such staples as white bread, french fries, country fried “steak”, etc. Lol.

  6. Posted by Tracey - 06/03/2011

    I think it’s better than what it was but still misses the mark. A healthy diet shouldn’t include foods we can’t easily digest and that is grains. The increasing number of celiac’s in the country (not to mention IBS and Crohn’s) indicates that grains are NOT in our best interest yet we’re told we should have them to be “healthy.” But, when most people stop eating them they feel better. Imagine that! I’m a proponent of proteins, fats, fruits, and vegetables. You don’t need whole wheat to be healthy–it can actually make you sicker. Stop feeding kids all the junk (bread, pasta, etc) maybe we’d stop being the fattest country in the world.

  7. Posted by Heather - 06/03/2011

    Food groups like the american dairy association certainly do lobby for space on the food pyramid/plate.

  8. Posted by Karen - 06/03/2011

    I agree with Tracey, this is a very simplistic (almost simple-minded) approach to nutrition. What if you have a dairy allergy? They could at least say dairy/dairy alternative, but then the Dairy Association would be up in arms, I suppose, since you can’t even label soy milk as “milk.”

    Where is the space for water? Isn’t water neccessary for life and health? What about replacing the “dairy” section with “water.” If you’re getting protein on that plate, then you don’t need the protein from the dairy.

  9. Posted by susan - 06/03/2011

    Isn’t this silly? And at what cost? Michael Pollan sums it
    up: eat food,real food, not too much. This new icon, the plate, does not address real food vs processed food. It is simplistic and condescending.

    Why not address food value, nutrient content? Oh … of course … that would not support (or be supported by) big agriculture. Silly me.

  10. Posted by Zen friend - 06/04/2011

    I don’t think anyone on here is the plate’s target audience.

    Think simple icon, immediately recognizable and useful. Think third grade health classes. Harried moms with limited reading skills trying to do their best for their kids.

    The plate makes sense for these folks. It’s a huge step forward from the pyramid.

  11. Posted by Amanda - 06/04/2011

    Speaking of Pollan, he posted on twitter this analysis:

    Basically, less than 1% of agricultural subsidies go to fruit and vegetables, whereas the majority goes to meat and dairy.

    When agricultural policies start falling into line with how we are “supposed” to eat, I will start believing government suggestions. :)

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