Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Plate of Cultural Bias

Somewhat off topic, Nutrition Plate Unveiled to Replace the Food Pyramid.

My first thought when I saw this was how very biased it was.  As the proud mother of a Chinese-American child, and a happy consumer of Chinese food whenever possible, I looked at this and thought:  what?  a fork, and no chopsticks?  And what's with the "Dairy" circle?  Asians and others all over the world rarely eat dairy products, and have excellent health.

Speaking of dairy products, one of the commenters wrote:

Every meal should include foods from the FOUR BASIC FOOD GROUPS:

Meat (Meat, Fish, Eggs)
Dairy (Milk, Cheese)
Fruits & Vegetables (Apples, Tomatoes, Spinach, Green Beans)
Starch (Bread, Potatoes, Corn, Pasta/Macaroni)

If this sounds familiar . . . it was taught in schools up until the Obesity Epidemic.

Maybe we should consider it again.

I confess that I grew up with the schema of the four basic food groups, and I only just noticed that it's a total violation of Jewish dietary law.  It's also extremely heavy in protein and fat.

Back to the new plate, what's with the nonsensical color choices?  Why should protein be purple, or grains orange?

It's just not helpful to approach a big, sprawling, diverse issue in a top-down, one-size-fits-all fashion, whether it's food or education.

The only good thing I have to say about this new plate design is that it will make no difference whatever to my family's day-to-day life.  I wish I could say the same about No Child Left Behind.


  1. Nutritional "science" is right up there with educational "science" for its history of unreliability and manipulation by interest groups.

  2. PsychMom says

    Interesting schema...but it's hard to tell the amounts. The average person looking at it would assume a quarter of the plate for each of those things. But the protein portion is supposed to be way smaller. And who puts vegetables and fruit on the same plate??

  3. It seems like an improvement to least it shows better the proportions of what we should be eating. However, I agree the dairy section is just the government kowtowing to the dairy industry. There are other ways to get calcium than dairy, and once you've gotten calcium, there's no nutritional need for dairy.

  4. Cynthia says:

    And the problem with the pyramid was...? I don't see a whole lot of difference, except I think the pyramid got the point across better. Is it just because they put grains on the bottom? Of course, i think the whole thing is pretty dumb, anyway.

  5. Eating a good, healthy, nutritional diet doesn't require knowing four of anything. All anyone needs to know is the simple, Pollan - "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants". Which could be probably changed to "eat fresh food, not too much, mostly plants".

    The trick is to know what to do with fresh food, particularly plants. Because they can be amazing, or really not, depending on what you do with them.