New Dietary Guidelines from the USDA

After decades of preaching the food pyramid, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a new recommendation for our diet and a brand new graphic to go with it. Calling the new program, the USDA has stepped away from the old focus on grains and shifted to promoting fruits and vegetables.

Instead of proudly supporting the food pyramid, grains are relegated to a golden quarter of the plate metaphor for our diet. An equal slice is for protein, a larger slice for vegetables and a smaller slice for fruits completes the plate. A glass beside the plate gives a nod to dairy. Oddly, a fork is depicted without a spoon or knife, so I guess that soup is out of the question.

The main thrust of this new initiative is reducing our overall consumption.  The promotional material advocates “Enjoy your food, but eat less” and “Avoid oversized portions” and recommends drinking water instead of sugary drinks. Further, they recommend switching to fat-free or low-fat milk for the dairy course.

The new web site puts a lot of emphasis on portion sizing.  This extends to pictures of fruit that equate to one portion.  There must be controversy somewhere over the portion size for a banana?  The site has helpful tips, such as stocking canned and dried fruit in addition to fresh fruit so that you never run out of fruit.  Now that’s proactive government in action!  They also recommend that we “vary our veggies.”  One can only assume that this will avoid the dreaded vegetable fatigue.

On the less pedantic side, the web site does offer some good tips on food safety, with advice on cleanliness, avoiding cross contamination, and cooking and storage temperatures for food.  These tips can help to avoid those mysterious flu symptoms that are often caused by poor food handling habits.

All in all, this new program is a step in the right direction.  Stressing fruits and vegetables over breads and pastas can help to stem the tide of obesity in America.  And we can look forward to bright graphics of dancing plates in our elementary schools in the coming school year.

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