Did you hear? I realize that everyone’s life isn’t nutrition and food centric but there’s some pretty big news in my world. When I first read the news, on my Kindle as I sat in my in-laws kitchen, I wanted to cue Kool and the Gang. I wanted to celebrate. The food pyramid, my professional equivalent of my mother singing along (not quietly) at school concerts when I was younger, has been retired and replaced. What would succeed this “learning tool” telling Americans at one time to eat 6-11 servings of bread and pasta a day? It would be a “plate-shaped symbol” and we wouldn’t know more than that until the reveal on June 2nd.
Blogs and tweets were abuzz with speculation. What would it look like? Would it be similar to plate diagrams we already knew of? Would it be more user-friendly than the ridiculous pyramid? It has to be, right? Marion Nestle even posted other organization’s “plates” before the USDA announcement. Some of my colleagues headed down to Washington and the hashtag #foodicon seemed to be all over twitter.
I was working when the USDA unveiled the new logo. As soon as I had a break I opened my laptop, giddy with anticipation. I then sat there for a minute rather deflated. Was this plate (seen above) the USDA was suggesting bad? Nope not necessarily. Was it clear? You could say that. Was this going to really help Americans make better choices? Not so sure. I will preface my thoughts my saying that many experts are full of praise for the plate. I see where they are coming from. With people drowning in a sea of nutrition confusion anything clearly stated is welcome. And I’m happy that grains are no longer regarded as the largest component of our suggested diets. However, this plate, to me, is telling Americans “eat your fruits and vegetables” and I think we already know that.
There’s no mention of food quality. Is the grain on my plate to be a pop tart or quinoa? They’re both grains, right? Yes, the instructions accompanying the plate says “make at least half your grains whole grains”, does that meat ½ pop tarts and ½ quinoa? The same holds for protein, can I fit a 5 Guys Burger in ¼ of my plate? And what to do with combination foods? Do we dissect the said burger to put the various parts on their corresponding plate locations? Hmn.
I read one post that praised the plate, after all, it said, we all eat on plates. I actually think starting with “eat food on a plate” would be a good opener. We eat in our cars, we eat at our kitchen counters. Use plates, that would be good advice. What I’ve learned in almost 10 years owning Foodtrainers is that many people know what to do, it’s figuring out why they aren’t doing it. Andy Bellatti, who has guest posted here before, raised some great (and controversial) points on his blog yesterday. He said, “as long as people live in environments that are not conducive to making healthy decisions, can we really expect an illustration of a plate to achieve anything?” So true.
So MyPlate isn’t bad I’m just not sure it’s going to do that much. I’m still happy the pyramid is gone.
What do you think of MyPlate? Were you a fan of the pyramid? What do you feel was omitted? Do you always eat off of plates?