Thursday, June 2, 2011

Circle of life

Sam's Mom was GROSSED OUT by all the talk of eating lion yesterday, so I thought I'd bring some happier news from the food world before I get back to cataloging my Seattle adventure. In nutrition, one day you are in, and the next day you could be out. According to this blog that I read only because it has a funny name, the most recent iteration of the US food pyramid is OUT as of today, replaced by this new, intuitive circular icon, which just shows you the relative quantity of food from each food group that you should put on your plate.

Now, having grown up with the old, blocky food pyramid, I had hated the new food pyramid almost since its inception, as verified by this blog entry that I dredged from the depths of 2005. Obama Foodorama (that was the funny-named blog whose link you didn't click on earlier) notes that the new pyramid had drawn criticism for failing to convey any nutritional information. That is probably true. I just think that it looks pretty dumb--who builds a pyramid out of a bunch of triangular blocks of different widths that are leaned together? Is the idea that no matter what food you consume your life is going to fall apart and you're going to be left sitting on a pile of smashed-up rainbows? I feel that way about my life sometimes, but I'm not sure that it was a great message to be sending to our schoolchildren.

So, you know, I guess the moral of the story is that if the government comes up with a metaphor that fails to convey useful information or reflect objective reality in its iconography, it will take only six years for that metaphor to be replaced. Wait, what is the point of a metaphor again? How does MyPlate do? Well, it's certainly easier to understand, and it actually looks like a plate, so there are two improvements over MyPyramid. Apparently, according to the USDA, you are not allowed to eat fat and sugar or to be a vegan anymmore; however, I actually think that's a shrewd judgment to make, as it offends both ends of the gastropolitical spectrum equally. My only criticism for the time being--its "key consumer message" for dairy consumption is "switch to skim milk." Apparently the skim milk lobby must be pretty powerful or something. I don't know about you, but I don't think I would drink more skim milk if all other beverages on Earth were outlawed.

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