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America’s New Dinner Plate

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My Plate LogoGuess who’s coming to dinner? The USDA has revised the former “food pyramid” and “My Pyramid” nutrition recommendations and on June 2 introduced a new food logo / icon called “My Plate” .

While the original food pyramid was accepted by consumers and understood by adults and school children, many nutritionists were critical, saying that it outlined basic food choices, but did not help consumers understand the difference between foods generally thought to be good for you (whole grains and fish) and foods generally thought to be not as good for you (white bread and bacon).

My Pyramid, introduced in 2005, tended to confuse consumers, so the release of the plate icon is a helpful improvement and comes at a time when there is both an increase in food safety and food origin and healthy eating.

The My Plate logo divides a round plate into serving areas of four food groups: vegetables, fruits, grains, and proteins….for the first time stepping away from “meats”. Along side the main plate is a serving of dairy.

The USDA recommendations include these tips:

Balancing Calories
Enjoy your food, but eat less.
Avoid over-sized portions.    

Foods to Increase
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
Make at least half your grains whole grains.
Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.    

Foods to Reduce

Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals ? and choose the foods with lower numbers.
Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Simple enough to follow advice, and deeper in the site, the USDA includes specific portion sizes for ages groups and gender.

It’s a positive step forward, and helpful for consumers looking to learn more about their food and how they should eat. However, it’s not quite revolutionary. In 1917, the U.S. Food Administration published a Frederic G. Cooper poster offering this advice:

Food
1. Buy it with thought
2. Cook it with care
3 Use less wheat and meat
4. Buy local foods
5. Serve just enough
6. Use what is left
Don’t Waste it.

It seems everything old is new again, and that said, it’s time to set an extra “plate” at the table.

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About Fritz Nordengren

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