Wednesday, July 06, 2011
The USDA’s Pyramid Scheme
I haven’t ranted in a while but figure all this nonsense about the USDA’s food pyramid, um, plate is a good time to get back in the game. Apparently, at least according to a lot of media sources, making a rational change from pyramid to plate (since, ya know, we eat off of plates) is going to put the kibosh on the obesity epidemic. And while I applaud the USDA’s logic I’m offended by their ignorance. We aren’t fat because we can’t covert tiers on a pyramid into portions on a plate. We’re fat because our diets consist mainly of things that don’t appear in their guidelines at all.
Let’s have a look at the revolutionary My Plate, shall we?
Hmm, we’ve got a plate segmented into fruits, grains, protein, veggies, a small side of dairy and a pretty girl eating an apple. How quaint. Never mind that you don’t need any meat, grains, or dairy in your diet or that it lacks nuts, seeds, legumes, and an entire macronutrient group because that’s minutia compared to my point. For a level-headed examination of “My Plate” here’s a link to Denis Faye’s less vitriolic prose. What I’d like to know is where are the sections for soda, chips, beer, fast food, and the hot case down at your local AM/PM mini mart? Because, from what I’ve seen, this should make up most of My Plate, assuming that when they say “My” they mean “American”.
I don’t know who it was who decided our problem was that we couldn’t figure out how to insert a triangle into a circle. As a professional observer I’d say it has a lot more to do with people’s notion that a French fry is a vegetable and Cherry Coke is a fruit. We find our protein at places where the same ardent watchdog, the USDA, states “ meat” only need contain 40% actual meat and god knows what else. We get our fill of dairy on “2 Large Pizzas for $5” night and our grains come from various bags of processed –to-the-point-they-might-as-well-be-sugar swill at convenience shops. We are fat, quite simply, because we eat a lot of crap. If our diets actually consisted of nothing but the foods on My Plate we’d be a lot healthier, no matter how much we ate of any of them.
Look, I’m all for more nutrition education. We need it. Badly. I’ve had clients state they were allergic to water, were advised by their doctor to drink more soda, and challenged me as to what point they could stop exercising—seriously, the exact line was “... you can’t tell me Steve Edwards and Tony Horton still have to exercise to look like that!” So I’m all for education; I just don’t think a government agency beholden to the corporate influence of Big Food should be the ones teaching us.