Join 3,433 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Just don't call it a pie chart.
June 3, 2011 7:16 AM   Subscribe

The USDA has ended the pyramid scheme. For the first time, the USDA advises Americans to "eat less." The previous design abomination (previously) is archived for comparison.
posted by fatllama (98 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Something something, goddamn Socialists telling us what to eat, something something!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:20 AM on June 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Eating less is a great idea, but SO much of eating less is understanding portion sizes. And in that sense, the restaurants and food products companies need to get on board.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:20 AM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Without a depth measurement, this is pretty useless. You can stack Big Macs a lot higher than peas and blueberries, no matter how big their slot on the plate is. Where will the madness end?!
posted by phunniemee at 7:20 AM on June 3, 2011 [12 favorites]


It's still bullshit agri-business propaganda but at least it's not attempted murder any longer.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:24 AM on June 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


I find it somewhere between interesting and amusing that an awful lot of the advice for vegetarians is aimed at getting meat eaters to eat less meat. (Vegetarians! You can eat veggie burgers instead of a hamburger!)
posted by hoyland at 7:25 AM on June 3, 2011


And stop connecting exercise with weight loss. Every other person I see is moaning that they can't lose weight but that they take a walk every day, not realizing they've burned as many calories as a spoonful of yogurt.
posted by docpops at 7:26 AM on June 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


For variety and vitamins and feeling rooty toot, eat a veg a bread a milk a cheese a bean a meat a fruit.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:27 AM on June 3, 2011 [12 favorites]


Make at least half your grains whole grains.

There is beauty in this statement.
posted by owtytrof at 7:28 AM on June 3, 2011 [20 favorites]


Take a chunk out of fruits and grains, put that into the veggie pile, and it's a lot closer to a good diet.
posted by clockzero at 7:28 AM on June 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


Huh.. that first line in my comment should have been in italics...
posted by owtytrof at 7:29 AM on June 3, 2011


The USDA has the worst job. I mean, really. They have to make some sort of guideline for what people eat. And telling people what to eat is the craziest thing of all time. Everybody's got their own food ideas, usually wrong, and will gleefully ignore any and all evidence to counter their thoughts. They'd have a better chance trying to convince the Southern Baptists that Jesus was black.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:29 AM on June 3, 2011 [17 favorites]


I prefer this one.
posted by hoboynow at 7:29 AM on June 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Eating less is a great idea, but SO much of eating less is understanding portion sizes. And in that sense, the restaurants and food products companies need to get on board.

In a moment of weakness I bought a "Hungry Grab" 3-oz bag of Cheetos the other day and it had a little poem (well, a couplet) on the back about how the bag contains three servings and that you should only eat 11 Cheetos at a time. I assume that was a government-mandated thing? I had never seen that before.
posted by theodolite at 7:29 AM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Everything old is new again? I could swear that when I was a kid there was a "food wheel" that predated the food pyramid. The food wheel looked a lot like this.
posted by adamrice at 7:30 AM on June 3, 2011


The USDA has the worst job. I mean, really. They have to make some sort of guideline for what people eat.

And at the same time, they have to represent the interests of the people who produce the food. Which is a huge conflict of interest.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:31 AM on June 3, 2011 [22 favorites]


theodolite - they specify a serving size so you have a metric to guage the rest of the information. If it says a serving has X number of calories, you kind of need to know how big a serving is. It has nothing to do with mandating anything.
posted by antinomia at 7:32 AM on June 3, 2011


I could swear that when I was a kid there was a "food wheel" that predated the food pyramid

You may be thinking of the American Red Cross food wheel.
posted by jedicus at 7:33 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dammit - I still don't know where to put the bread plate and butter knife. What about the water glass and soup spoon?! Your plate illustration has failed me, USDA.
posted by fijiwriter at 7:35 AM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


folks may not follow it, but making it a plate that potentially correlates to reality (many of us eat off of plates), as opposed to a pyramid, makes a lot of sense to me. if only nutrition (and i know there could be great debate about it - omni/veggie/vegan/etc.) were a part of school. and cooking lessons. and not the cooking i had in high school - fettucini alfredo is all that i came away with.
posted by anya32 at 7:35 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


They should also find a way to connect food types to calorie sources -- it would be a lot healthier for americans to get more calories from protein and healthy fats than carbs.
posted by clockzero at 7:38 AM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm still stuck back at the four major food groups.

Meanwhile, I am pretty convinced that people would do well to go back to eating three meals a day with MAYBE one snack of fruit. Back when I was actually losing weight, that is what worked. It is also what people did back in the sixties.

But since very few of us have a mom or wife or manservant or enlightened husband cooking nutritious meals and having them ready when we walk in from work......
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:38 AM on June 3, 2011


I assume that was a government-mandated thing?

No, that's a snack food company trying to cover its ass. For so long they've been selling us larger and larger packages of everything and people have no clue what an actual serving is. So that's Frito-Lay deciding that rather than make the bag one serving with a huge number of calories, they break it down so it looks better on the label and now they're trying to help educate as to what the "serving" actually is.

Or... what antinomia said.
posted by hippybear at 7:39 AM on June 3, 2011


1.) To compare apples to apples, this is far far better than the carb-bottomed pyramid or the runway pyramid. It does send a clear, visual message: half your plate should be fruits and veg. It's certainly a step in the right direction.

2.) The unnecessary dairy circle is an artifact of the USDA also being in charge of promoting dairy products. It's a clear conflict of interest, but it won't change until the responsibility for health messages gets moved into another agency. When the government started giving dietary advice the problem was getting people to eat more and a more varied diet to avoid malnutrition, so it made sense to have the USDA in charge and to get farmers on board with helping promote the message. We're in a *very* different place now, but changing this sort of bureaucracy will be very slow-going and require a huge, organized public outcry. I don't see it happening soon because for most folks its just not a priority.
posted by antinomia at 7:42 AM on June 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


The USDA is not a nutrition group. It's a part of the government dedicated to promoting US farmers produce and sell food. That includes exporting food overseas to new protein-hungry nations like China and India. If Americans eat less, they eventually buy less, leaving more production for export.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:43 AM on June 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Eating less is a great idea, but SO much of eating less is understanding portion sizes. And in that sense, the restaurants and food products companies need to get on board.
One of the tips I ran across was to ask for a take-out container when the food arrives and pack half of it immediately. You will almost never wind up with too little food for your meal, and you'll have lunch or dinner for the next day. I like this because otherwise I suffer from the terrible habit of eating until the plate is empty regardless of how hungry I am, or only eating my favorite bits and then not wanting the leftovers because my favorite bits are gone.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:49 AM on June 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


The only pyramid you really need.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:52 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


People need to eat less? Well, I coulda told ya that.

Be sure to eat breakfast!
And lunch!
And dinner!
Oh, and desert, of course!
If you don't eat every 3 hours, your metabolism will come to a halt!
(this is the most egeregious offense in terms of spreading misinformation)

It's like people are trying to transform the concept of "overweight" to "normal" just so they can eat more and more.
posted by Evernix at 7:54 AM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the initial intentions are good, but the USDA is prone to heavy lobbying. I half expect the glass for dairy to grow to half the size of the plate, and the assorted meat lobbies to take over the plate. Plus the little snippet to "Drink water instead of sugary drinks." will probably disappear too.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:57 AM on June 3, 2011


And at the same time, they have to represent the interests of the people who produce the food. Which is a huge conflict of interest.

Weird. I suppose the UK equivalent would be DEFRA telling me what to have for my tea. Which does happen from time to time - the aptly-named Tory John Gummer stuffed a beefburger into the mouth of his four year old daughter at the height of the BSE crisis, which I think was meant to encourage us to eat beef, but mostly made people feel queasy.

I'd be more inclined to take dietary advice from the NHS: besides any altruistic motives, it has a huge financial stake in keeping people healthy (and therefore not using NHS services).

They have better web designers and catchier slogans, too.
posted by jack_mo at 7:58 AM on June 3, 2011


I see there's still no immediately-apparent advice about sugar. The only thing I found was advice to parents in the form of Cut Back on Your Kid's Sweet Treats. Apparently no adults in the U.S. have too-high sugar intake? The battle over sugar messages are a substantial proportion of Marion Nestle's 2002 Food Politics.
posted by jocelmeow at 7:59 AM on June 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


What's with all the dairy hate? Milk is awesome!
posted by phunniemee at 8:00 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


food wheel

The Washington Post has an article about the FDA's guidelines and graphics over the years.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:00 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, the USDA has a "conflict of interest" in promoting both health and agriculture. "Conflicts of interest" are also known as "balancing." Isn't it better to have a single agency attempting to determine the optimum intersection of nutrition and agribusiness, rather than a bunch of separate departments trying to shout over each other? And how exactly does one remove this "conflict of interest"? It's not like the meat and dairy lobbies can't find HHS. If you're willing to say that Tom Vilsack (or any other Secretary of Agriculture) is beholden to Big Milk, then what are the odds that Barack Obama (or any other President) -- you know, the guy who was actually elected, rather than appointed -- isn't beholden as well?
posted by Etrigan at 8:02 AM on June 3, 2011


Thank God. That last food pyramid abomination was the worst bit of infographics I've ever seen.

Curious that the portions aren't angled to meet in the middle. I don't think I've ever seen a pie chart segmented like this.

And it sort of seems like the colors for fruit and protein should be swapped.

Purple cow. It's what's for dinner.
posted by designbot at 8:04 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Be sure to eat breakfast!
And lunch!
And dinner!
Oh, and desert, of course!


Now that is crazy advice. I don't care what the scientists are saying this week, you just shouldn't be eating a desert every day. For one thing, we'll immediately have no deserts left in the world.
posted by orange swan at 8:05 AM on June 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


no immediately-apparent advice about sugar

The text below the chart on the linked page (the front page of the dedicated checkmyplate site) has a few pieces of "advice", one of which is to drink water instead of sugary drinks. So that's something at least.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:07 AM on June 3, 2011


Threeway Handshake has it about right.

It's a damn near pointless task. People deal with food as religion. Or as medicine. Or Culture. Or identity. Or a combination of all those things. Everyone has a good idea what's good not only for them, but for everyone else, too. MeFi folk aren't immune, as every food related post well demsontrates. As a result, feel free to ignore whatever the USDA, or anybody says about nutrition. Everyone does so anyway, as we see fit.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:09 AM on June 3, 2011


They dare disturb the final resting place of the Food Pharaoh?
posted by dr_dank at 8:11 AM on June 3, 2011 [33 favorites]


What's with all the dairy hate? Milk is awesome!

I like it and still drink it, but I'm not under any pretense that's it's awesomeness is a highly debatable point. Whole milk is around 60% sugar. A crap ton of people are allergic to it and some people are allergic to it and don't even know it ("Gosh these darn allergies and my sinuses!"). And if we're looking at this from an evolutionary standpoint, you are not really supposed to be drinking it past the age of 2 or so.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:23 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm in favor of a truck-tire-sized plate with a question mark on it and a barbell in place of the fork. Lift weights; eat whatever the hell you want.

But really, if you're looking at nutritional infographics on processed junk deciding if boxed mac and cheese A is better than frozen meal B, you're already a little bit screwed.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:24 AM on June 3, 2011


"Conflicts of interest" are also known as "balancing." Isn't it better to have a single agency attempting to determine the optimum intersection of nutrition and agribusiness, rather than a bunch of separate departments trying to shout over each other?
And what's up with these Legislative, Judicial, and Executive branches? Aren't the people who write the laws by definition the most qualified to say how they were intended to be implemented and interpreted? Why give everyone their own precious bailiwick to get myopically attached to, when it would be so much more optimal to just let a true Leader determine things? It's almost as if the idiots who created this government designed it to turn into a shouting match for some reason.
posted by roystgnr at 8:28 AM on June 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Plenty more details to be found in the updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Key bites:
There's lots of sensible advice in the new guidelines.
posted by notyou at 8:29 AM on June 3, 2011


Make at least half your grains whole grains.

Hmm, if the government really means this, then they should distribute our agricultural subsidies accordingly.
posted by hermitosis at 8:30 AM on June 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


As someone who is studying to be a teacher I think this is a great redesign. Kids won't have to take the image of a pyramid and apply it to their plate, they will already know what their plate should look like.
posted by philcliff at 8:34 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The original food chart used a pyramid as a metaphor, with foods you should eat more of at the larger bottom. Then when nutrition advice changed to a more equal distribution of food groups, the most rational thing to do would be to abandon the no-longer-applicable metaphor of a pyramid.

But like a large train, a large bureaucracy can't make quick turns, so they insanely kept the pyramid, slicing it in weird diagonal directions, as though that made it okay, but instead turning the metaphor into nonsense that did nothing to make things understandable.

I read that when Obama asked for something new, there were still government officials pushing the pyramid. Since it is so hard to fire people in government, they need a government office in some hidden corner of North Dakota that they can send such dangerously brain-dead officials to so they cause as little damage as possible.
posted by eye of newt at 8:37 AM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


With regards to the merits of milk, the distribution of the lactase persistence allele in Europe suggests that the ability to drink milk conferred such a pronounced evolutionary advantage that those who couldn't drink milk simply went extinct. So yeah. Milk is pretty great.
posted by eeeeeez at 8:40 AM on June 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


the ability to drink milk conferred such a pronounced evolutionary advantage that those who couldn't drink milk simply went extinct

idk about that, though - isn't lactose intolerance the default setting for the majority of adult humanity? Or did my doctor just tell me that to make me feel better?
posted by elizardbits at 8:42 AM on June 3, 2011


Whole milk is around 60% sugar.

By weight or volume, or are you just making things up? By the way, a 244g serving of whole milk has 13g of sugars.

A crap ton of people are allergic to it and some people are allergic to it and don't even know it ("Gosh these darn allergies and my sinuses!").

Milk allergies are common in children, but most outgrow it by age 3. Lactose intolerance is a whole other story.

And if we're looking at this from an evolutionary standpoint, you are not really supposed to be drinking it past the age of 2 or so.

Actually, lactase persistence is a interesting study in humans evolving to better suit their environment.
posted by peeedro at 8:46 AM on June 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'll just leave this here.
posted by get off of my cloud at 8:53 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do to changes in my lifestyle and social milieu, I have in the last few weeks

-eaten nothing but salad, steak, and scotch for a week
-just plain forgot to eat anything but a handful of peanuts for two days.
-declared that today we are only eating animal hearts, all of the animal hearts
-spent time with stoned pastry chefs eating a pile of tarts and macaroons like a Marie Antoinette musical montage

and as a result I have literally no idea how the rest of the country eats or what would be considered normal.
posted by The Whelk at 8:59 AM on June 3, 2011 [21 favorites]


Personally, I'm really glad that milk gets a lot of press and ad campaigns. I think it would be better, though, if it were touted as a good beverage to drink, period, rather than a healthy beverage option.

Milk is really great. I go through about four gallons of (skim) milk per week, by myself. It's my preferred beverage. I drink milk instead of soda. I drink milk instead of juice. I drink milk instead of coffee. I drink milk instead of alcohol. I'd drink it more often, but it doesn't travel well (hence the water bottle in my bookbag) and I stick to water after I've brushed my teeth for the night. It's the perfect thing to grab when you're in that stage where you kind of feel like eating something but you're not really hungry yet (and obviously is the better alternative to, say, grabbing a bag of cheetos). I'm also extremely clumsy and run into stuff and fall down a lot--there have been dozens of times when I should have broken a bone but have just walked away with bruises. I don't know if I'd be as lucky without my insane calcium habit.

It makes me sad when I hear adults (not people who are allergic to it, which I've never met, or people who are lactose intolerant) say that they "hate" milk. Milk makes me so happy. Seriously, I could talk all day about how much I love it. Go ahead and think I'm weird--I think you're missing out. I just honestly don't understand how anyone could look at a glass of milk and think that it's a bad nutritional choice.
posted by phunniemee at 9:04 AM on June 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


By the way, a 244g serving of whole milk has 13g of sugars.

Nice one, now try looking at the kcals and percentages therein. I'm looking at some 1% in my hand and per serving it comes out to over 50%

Milk allergies are common in children, but most outgrow it by age 3. Lactose intolerance is a whole other story.

Okay are you of the mindset that farming and agriculture are part of our evolutionary process? Because we might be having a whole 'nother conversation here, but as far as I know most people, and animals get off the teat by age 3.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:07 AM on June 3, 2011


And in that sense, the restaurants and food products companies need to get on board.

Some of the restaurants have figured this out, at least the really, really, expensive ones have.
posted by pashdown at 9:11 AM on June 3, 2011


those who couldn't drink milk simply went extinct

95% of Chinese are lactose intolerant. I'm not seeing the population problem there.
posted by desjardins at 9:13 AM on June 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just be clear, I'm not trying to vilify milk here. If you love and want to bloviate about it for paragraphs on end... yay for you? But seriously unless your over 50 falling down shouldn't automatically bust a hip, milk isn't a magical elixir. If you want to drink up, go ahead but just be aware the problems people have with milk are persistent for a large percent of the population and that's probably for a reason.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:15 AM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


per serving it comes out to over 50%

What?

You know, percentages are just fractions, and fractions have denominators, and I can't come up with any idea about what sort of denominator you're using here. And "per serving" is just a constant factor, so it doesn't change anything. If sugar is 50% of milk's mass per gallon, then it's also 50% of its mass per serving.

Please fill in the blank: in milk, sugar is 50% of the ______ (mass, volume, caloric content). Or is this something involving involving percentage of daily recommended values?
posted by kiltedtaco at 9:26 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nice one, now try looking at the kcals and percentages therein. I'm looking at some 1% in my hand and per serving it comes out to over 50%

That is a weird way of calculating. If I have an 8 oz glass of water, and drop in a quarter teaspoon of sugar, the percentage of kcals coming from the sugar will be 100%. Does this mean the sugar water is 100% sugar? If I drink four glasses a day, will I become hugely obese?
posted by Quonab at 9:28 AM on June 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's totally fair to question the process ("USDA has conflicted interests," etc.), but the comments criticizing the result seem presumptuous. If you genuinely know better, then hey, enlighten us and I'd bet $5 that your comment will get sidebarred; that sort of thing makes MetaFilter great. But that's if you actually do know better. They're the USDA. If you're opining that their veggie portion is too small or their dairy portion is too big, well, then I'm curious about your credentials.
posted by cribcage at 9:32 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the new design is great, but yeah, it did immediately strike me as odd that 1) the drink portion says "dairy", and 2) that it was so large. I mean, I get that fluids are necessary in large volumes, but to make that all dairy seems strange. Whether or not you think we 'should' drink dairy, there's no question that we can get the nutrients it provides elsewhere if we have to (or choose to).
posted by statolith at 9:37 AM on June 3, 2011


They dare disturb the final resting place of the Food Pharaoh?

Well, after the colonial period when Burger King had held sway, the local population not only managed a popular revolt, but also cut a deal with the Dairy Queen to allow her mercantile interests to stay (such as Trader Joe), but only as long as all deals were kept off the plate, and under the table as it were.

Shortly thereafter, it had reached the era of the Hambuglar Barons, and that's when the real theft began - emptying out the Food Pyramid was completely a free for all, and mercenaries like Captain Crunch (who also traded in illegal Trix Rabbit furs and Toucan Sam feathers) quickly found it both profitable and easy to Leggo my Eggo from the country and sell to the highest bidder.

Honestly, all that barely remains of the Food Pharaoh's legacy is dozens of advertising cults all claiming to descend from the Hermetically Sealed Ways, from the Caveman Dietitians to the Anti-oxidants to the Omega 3 Society.
posted by yeloson at 9:37 AM on June 3, 2011 [23 favorites]


Oh for crap's sake, you guys would make terrible nutritionists. Are we counting calories here are we counting up the weight of the food? If water and sugar was the sum total of your caloric intake, then yes your diet would be comprised of 100% sugar. If you ate a bunch of rocks sprinkled with some sugar? Same answer. Last I checked, water wasn't one of the macronutrients people commonly take into consideration when counting calories and using basic math to figure out what are good ratios to make up your diet.

P.S. No you wouldn't become obese, but you'd probably develop diabetes in short time.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:42 AM on June 3, 2011


-eaten nothing but salad, steak, and scotch for a week

The Whelk, I think that I'd like to be your friend.

it did immediately strike me as odd that 1) the drink portion says "dairy"

Yeah! This is America! It should have said "Sour Cream".
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:48 AM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


What if my plates are the size of manhole covers?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:54 AM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah! This is America! It should have said "Sour Cream".

What? No, that's heavy cream! What are you, some sort of god-damned fascist?

Oh, wait ... okay, I guess you are. Sorry about that.
posted by jpolchlopek at 9:55 AM on June 3, 2011


Food and Religion are the two areas where no matter how many PhDs are presented or scholarly articles produced you will never convince someone to abandon their own sense of expertise.
posted by MasonDixon at 10:01 AM on June 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also:

I'd like to see the USDA recommendation in a cylindrical shape; I try to avoid eating things that aren't burritos or tacos. GET ON THAT USDA.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:01 AM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh for crap's sake, you guys would make terrible nutritionists.

Perhaps, but most of us are reasonable mathematicians. You were asked a reasonable question at least three times: by what calculation are you basing your statement that milk contains 50% or more) sugars? You haven't answered it yet. I'd be interested in seeing you back this up .
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:13 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know what? I just figured it out. I never gave an answer and I'm all wrong on this, thanks!
posted by P.o.B. at 10:21 AM on June 3, 2011


My food pyramid
posted by naju at 10:37 AM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


What are the calories in calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, etc.?

Zero.

Your method of determining the nutrition of a food by the number of calories in it is just dumb.
posted by Quonab at 10:41 AM on June 3, 2011


This seems like the right place for this
posted by Mister Moofoo at 10:44 AM on June 3, 2011


I have a question about the "whole grain" thing... I see all these cereals "WHOLE GRAIN" but their fiber is ridiculously low. I understand that whole grain is better than whatever non-whole grain is... But, they make it sound like a low fiber "whole grain" cereal is just so amazing. Sorry, General Mills, but Lucky Charms isn't healthy no matter how many current federal recommendations you try to dress it up in.

It's like saying my Annie's Mac N Cheese is health food because it's 70% organic.

But seriously is it that much difference even if there's low fiber? I always thought the point of whole grain was to get the extra fiber.
posted by symbioid at 10:46 AM on June 3, 2011


Your method of determining the nutrition of a food by the number of calories in it is just dumb.

I know, I was wrong. I never said anything about nutritional value but everything I did say was wrong. And dumb. Thank you.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:47 AM on June 3, 2011


P.o.B: I believe that poet_lariat thought that your admission of being wrong was sarcastic, hence the "lame" quip.

P_L: P.o.B wasn't being sarcastic. He figured out what he was doing wrong and apologized.

Slapfight over!
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:57 AM on June 3, 2011


I apologize for begin rude at the end. I'm not feeling very well.
posted by Quonab at 11:01 AM on June 3, 2011


Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:03 AM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


dr_dank: "They dare disturb the final resting place of the Food Pharaoh"

OK that is hilarious.

/me is off to put together the ultimate "food mummy" costume for halloween - nori and fruit by the foot for bandages?
posted by idiopath at 11:04 AM on June 3, 2011


[P.o.B., Poet_Lariet, take it to email or cut it out.]
posted by cortex at 11:14 AM on June 3, 2011


The Whole Grain labeling rules are not clear, so...

Here I'll just cut and paste a paragraph on the topic I put together for something else:
When you reach for your next loaf of bread or sack of grain, look for "Whole Wheat" or "Whole Grain" on the label. Both mean that the flour used in the product was ground from all three parts of the grain – the bran or shell (fiber), the endosperm (carbohydrates) and the germ (B vitamins, Omega fatty acids, minerals). Refined grains, in contrast, are made from only the starchy endosperm. "Whole Grain" applies to all grains – wheat, oats, rye, quinoa, brown rice – while "Whole Wheat" refers only to wheat products. The labeling rules for "Whole Wheat" bread and pasta are strict; only whole wheat flour can be used in those products. Unfortunately, that's not true for "Whole Grains." To qualify for the label, the whole grains in the product must make up 51% or more of the product's entire weight. As a result, many "Whole Grain" products contain both whole and enriched refined grains. Check the ingredient list and look for whole grain at or near the top of the list.
posted by notyou at 11:15 AM on June 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


they need a government office in some hidden corner of North Dakota that they can send such dangerously brain-dead officials to so they cause as little damage as possible

In Canada, we call that "the postal service."
posted by Shepherd at 11:17 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


As someone who is studying to be a teacher I think this is a great redesign. Kids won't have to take the image of a pyramid and apply it to their plate, they will already know what their plate should look like.

I think it's an improvement on the pyramid but I think the graphic artists got a little too focused on cool aesthetics and ignored practicality. Having the portions of equal size at diagonals instead of adjoining makes it harder to see proportions. If they'd put grains and veggies side by side you'd see that they should make up 60%+ of the meal. Instead you can kinda tell they should be more but it's less obvious.

I suppose it's a minor quibble but there's a reason pie charts lay out such that they consistently diminish in size rather than scatter wedge widths. My more cynical side wonders if this was a sop to the meats industry who fights tirelessly against the suggestion that they shouldn't be center-plate.
posted by phearlez at 11:20 AM on June 3, 2011


Here's a fun blog post (from a paleo perspective so YMMV) on the history of the graphical representations of the USDA's recommendations.

My favorite line about the weird that weird pyramid with the clip art dude climbing it: This new pyramid told us what we all needed to know: THROW ALL YOUR FOOD ON THE FLOOR AND GO CLIMB SOME STAIRS, YOU FATTIES!
posted by vespabelle at 11:49 AM on June 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Pie charts pretty much only remind me of pie, and I drift off to thoughts of a nice plate covered with different sizes of slices of pie. I'm quite certain the USDA would not approve of an all-pie diet.
posted by rtha at 11:49 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm quite certain the USDA would not approve of an all-pie diet.

I don't know...if you got creative with the crusts (used things like crushed nuts instead of butter/flour) and opened yourself up to more savory and tart options, you could probably do pretty well eating 100% pie. Even so, if you're making it yourself from scratch, you're probably still ahead of the game nutritionally. Yay, pie!
posted by phunniemee at 11:54 AM on June 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Dammit this has been bugging me since the top of the post. I have to say it. GRAINS ARE A SOMETIMES FOOD. We are not evolved to eat grains, and grains are not evolved to be eaten by us. More fruits, veg. & dairy please. Thank you, please drive through.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:36 PM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


95% of Chinese are lactose intolerant. I'm not seeing the population problem there.

I guess we can expect those people to be extinct in a couple of thousand years as well, now that the Chinese have finally discovered milk. Where people have the choice, milk wins.
posted by eeeeeez at 12:41 PM on June 3, 2011


I recently switched back to full-fat milk and dairy products, 'cause due to issues with my comically bad health I've been shedding weight like some sort of out of control weight-shedding machine, and I want to stabilize. Anyway, in doing so I find out that mein wife has NEVER KNOWINGLY HAD WHOLE MILK. 2%, all her life. While there's convincing arguments against dairy consumption, I feel that eating dairy and never having whole milk is like... having sex but never using your hands, and keeping your eyes closed the whole time*? Listening to hip hop but keeping the bass turned off? I don't know, and my metaphor machine is all out of whack

* and not in any sexy tied up and blindfolded way, either

posted by jtron at 1:08 PM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have to say it. GRAINS ARE A SOMETIMES FOOD. We are not evolved to eat grains, and grains are not evolved to be eaten by us. More fruits, veg. & dairy please. Thank you, please drive through.

I'm a grain skeptic, but it's complicated. Grains are not the devil. In fact, fiber from grain is superior to any other for its health effects:

Fiber Intake Associated With Reduced Risk of Death

"The risk of cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases was reduced by 24 percent to 56 percent in men and 34 percent to 59 percent in women with high fiber intakes. Dietary fiber from grains, but not from other sources such as fruits, was associated with reduced risks of total, cardiovascular, cancer and respiratory disease deaths in men and women.

"The findings remained robust when we corrected for dietary intake measurement error using calibration study data; in fact, the association was even stronger with measurement error correction," the authors write.

"The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend choosing fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains frequently and consuming 14 grams per 1,000 calories of dietary fiber," the authors conclude. "A diet rich in dietary fiber from whole plant foods may provide significant health benefits."
[emp. mine VS]

Note: it says "total" mortality. That's extremely significant - it's not the case of "yeah, reduced heart-attacks, but upped cancer deaths" type result. It reduces total mortality, (through reducing specific morbidity conditions).

So fiber from grains is superior to the one in fruit and vegetables, though all fiber is beneficial.

That said, it becomes a question of whether we can skip the grain and still get the fiber (for example for insoluble fiber, you got wheat bran).

But I've been somewhat relaxing my strictures against grain even apart from fiber - there are certain phytochemicals unique to grains which may provide particular health benefits. Of course, it all needs to be accounted for in the calories - so it would be a mistake to simply boost grain intake without cutting calories from something else... with calories, it really is a zero sum game. The USDA finally woke up to the truth that for Americans (and first worlders in general) it's excess calories which are public health enemies #1.
posted by VikingSword at 1:10 PM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I recently switched back to full-fat milk and dairy products,

We've been doing a low-carb thing for a few months, and have likewise switched to full-fat dairy. We get cream-on-top milk (Straus), and it is both delicious and makes it look like I've put butter in my morning coffee. And full-fat Fage yogurt is so good it's scary.
posted by rtha at 1:18 PM on June 3, 2011


When I came to the US as an international college student, I was frequently asked if I experienced culture shock. I never did, but from time to time, I would be absolutely stunned by American eating habits that I witnessed both at the dining halls and in my friends' homes. Picky eaters openly calling the food "gross" (FFS, we got Friday teas and candlelight dinners, this wasn't your average cafeteria swill), late-night pizza orders because of said "gross" food, vegetarians who ate only bread and cheese, eggs that came out of a carton, milk drinking at dinner (milk is a breakfast drink!), unfinished plates of food scraped into the waste bin, stampedes to the dessert table, and candy! candy! candy! everywhere, all the time. By golly, I will never ever forget how this girl chugged gallon bottles of non-diet soda like they were Poland Springs, and she wasn't even unhealthy or obese.

Everything my Asian mother told me to avoid or consume in very limited quantities was a food staple. But it didn't stop me from looking noticeably more rotund during those four years.
posted by peripathetic at 1:41 PM on June 3, 2011


When I drastically reduced my dairy intake about 4 weeks ago (I now only occasionally put milk in my coffee), my skin problems vanished. Seriously--no more acne, clearer pores, and it just has this...glow. Obviously that's just one data point but it's enough to make me swear off dairy forever. Calcium's easy enough to come by without the other bad-skin-making yuckiness.
posted by orrnyereg at 1:49 PM on June 3, 2011


Has anyone tried the Three Food Rule? "Pick from these food groups: fruits, veggies, dairy, grains, and meat (includes fish, eggs, nuts, legumes). ... Every time you eat, choose a combination of three food items. Each item should come from a different food group, and one item must be a protein. That's it." I've tried it for short periods of time before, but I seem to always start it on bad weeks, so I don't follow it for long.
posted by bentley at 1:56 PM on June 3, 2011


Yeah, most of the commenters hate this new one, that's utterly predictable. It's influenced by agribusiness, yes. The recommendation to consume "dairy" is ridiculous, yes. But this thing is far from the "fail" that most cynics say it is. Look at America today. Half of Americans are overweight. Many of them eat NO fruit! They eat meals with few vegetables! They go out to dinner and sit behind a huge plate which is dominated by a huge piece of red meat, with some lousy veggies on the side and a bottomless Coke!

The new plate metaphor is not perfect; nor was the old pyramid (the new one was awful.) But compare it to the way many people routinely eat. This is a message they can use.

The website also gives personalized food plans. Of course many won't agree with all the recommendations in the plans. But again, many people are obese. They wouldn't be if they had followed sensible, moderate recommendations such as these, imperfect though they are.
posted by massysett at 1:58 PM on June 3, 2011


Interesting to note in this new one is that there is no mention of "Meat" but rather there is "Protein" or "Protein Foods." I'm actually surprised USDA would buck the meat lobby in this way. That "Dairy" is still here is a testament to the power of the dairy folks though. I guess dairy cows are more powerful than meat cows.
posted by massysett at 2:02 PM on June 3, 2011


Massysett -- in the industry, "protein" is used to refer to animal flesh generically -- beef, pork, chicken and (sometimes) fish. A lot more likely that it was used to avoid taking sides among them, than cleverly to push consuming tofu.
posted by MattD at 2:34 PM on June 3, 2011


Re: VikingSword - the fiber link might not be as strong as it initially appears.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 8:06 PM on June 3, 2011


Note: it says "total" mortality. That's extremely significant - it's not the case of "yeah, reduced heart-attacks, but upped cancer deaths" type result. It reduces total mortality, (through reducing specific morbidity conditions).

I wasn't aware that mortality could be reduced from 100%.
posted by marble at 8:19 PM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


What? No meat group? No butterfinger group?

I recently switched back to full-fat milk and dairy products

Me too. There was so little fat in my diet that I wasn't getting enough. Plus it just tastes better. Real cheese, not genuine imitation cheese food.
posted by Twang at 8:27 PM on June 3, 2011


« Older The BBC Springwatch webcams are four live webcams...  |  Former U.S. Presidential candi... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments