This week the USDA unveiled its latest recommendations for healthy eating. Instead of the charts that I grew up with, now Americans are encouraged to divide their plate into four sections plus a fifth portion on the side for dairy. Click here for an easy-to-read pictorial history of USDA food guidelines over the years.
Since I’m not a nutritionist, I encourage you to read a blog post by Diane Kress that explains some of the downsides to the USDA’s “new” guidelines. They aren’t new, actually, just repackaged to be more understandable. It appears the USDA is heavily influenced by the dairy and meat-packing industries plus its own collection of grain silos. (Read Omnivore’s Dilemma to learn more than you ever wanted to know about the food industry.) Let me step down from this soapbox before my face turns red…
In late April I blogged about the food pyramid, suggesting something called the Plate Method. The plate in that diagram is divided into three parts. It’s simple and it focuses on lots of green things, some protein, and some whole grains. Why did the USDA have to complicate matters, pulling Americans away from healthy eating? (I feel myself climbing on the soapbox again…)
I encourage you to choose good food. Have you read Michael Pollan’s Food Rules yet? This is a handbook for good eating. Leave it on the dinner table so you can read one section a day; then plan your next meal using one or more of the Rules. (Don’t be scared by the word “rules.” There are only three “rules” that are actually guidelines leading to a new way of thinking about food.)
“Hats off” to the USDA for designing an icon that is easy to understand. “Boo Hiss” to the USDA for continuing to urge Americans to overload on carbohydrates from grains and dairy.