Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Plate: seems simple enough

Oh, thank God! The U.S. Agriculture Department has finally replaced the old "My Food Pyramid" with the "My Plate" visual aid to help Americans eat a healthier diet.


The new "My Plate" graphic (above) vs. the old "My Pyramid" (below).

Of course, with change comes a lot of protest, opinion and blogging. While the new image doesn't cover water intake or which grains are healthiest, and doesn't address good protein choices or what constitutes a veggie, we can safely say the new graphic is simpler to understand than the old "My Pyramid."

Unfortunately, USDA farm subsidy programs throw more money at tobacco farmers than broccoli farmers. And advertisers spend billions selling us junk food. So, good luck trying to get the average American to eat healthier with this $2 million campaign. Most folks who should be receiving the message won't hear it over the volume of the TV telling them that some 70-ingredient cereal is a healthy breakfast choice.

Here's the way I look at it. The efforts by the USDA to get us to eat healthier are equivalent to what we learn in elementary school; they're teaching us the basics. Like 2 + 2 = 4. Or like starting a new gym workout where you run through a set of machines without knowing what muscles you're targeting or why. Or like being able to microwave a frozen entree but not knowing how to cook a meal from scratch. We start with the basics. Then, if we enjoy using that gray matter between our ears, we dig in and learn more. But without that extra effort and without taking the next step, we don't get very far.

Honestly, I don't see the American obesity epidemic and our high cost of health care improving because we have this new "My Plate" image. Food is medicine. Just like drugs, some are beneficial and others aren't. We need to arms ourselves with knowledge about what we're eating because the food industry is intent on getting us to buy product and message, even if it means feeding us a line of junk.

There are a slew of websites to help you decipher what is food and what is not. You can go online and learn to both cook and shop for real food. You can learn to grow your own. And you can stand up for farmers that grow food (not feed) and for animal rights. Start with the basics, then run with it. Happy eating, ya'll!


Found this image on the Weighty Matters blog. Too true!

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