Tuesday, April 19


Well, somebody's gotta say it: The "New Food Pyramid" ain't a pyramid. Scrapping the advantage of a pyramid as a way to envision relative food portions, the USDA has turned it into a flat triangle comprising narrow colored triangles representing kinds of food. Note that the plant foods have colors matching their own colors, while Meat and Dairy get blue and purple instead of dark brown and beige, respectively. So already we have the cognitive dissonance of calling something that's not a pyramid a pyramid, and pretending that meat and dairy are not colorless also-rans in the nutrition arena.

Additionally, though, the new graphic (which for the first time endorses stair-climbing exercise) eschews specifics and instead points us to the USDA's "Key Recommendations for the General Population." Despite all the blather about "no one-size-fits-all guidelines," we see this one-size-fits-all guideline: "Consume 3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products." That's it. No "or soy milk." No "or calcium-fortified orange juice." No "abundant leafy green vegetables." No, the entire non-white population - who are, by majority, lactose intolerant - is told they MUST DRINK MILK as a general recommendation. Even on the "Milk Tips" page there's further obfuscation afoot, as LI is presented as the only possible reason not to drink milk, and so everyone (again: one size fits all) is steered to lactose-free dairy products. Allergic? Ethical? Concerned about BGH? You don't exist!

In short, those who say this "pyramid" is "definitely not very helpful" and that "USDA seems to have bent over backward to avoid upsetting any particular commodity group or food company by not showing any foods that Americans should eat less of" are right on the money. Read PCRM's analysis of the "unscientific" pyramid triangle for more.

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