USDA Retires Food Pyramid

Earlier this week, the Department of Agriculture retired the venerable food pyramid. In use for over two decades, the food pyramid has been criticized by some nutritionists as confusing and embarrassingly outdated. Replacing the pyramid is the new myplate symbol. This new logo divides a plate into different sections, advising Americans to vary their diet, increase their vegetable consumption, and reduce their consumption of high cholesterol foods like meats and dairy.

On its own, this new symbol is the latest in the recent campaign by agricultural officials to improve the health and diets of the American people. First Lady Michelle Obama, for example, has been active over the last several years in encouraging Americans to improve their diet and has worked hard to combat childhood obesity.  The USDA has also pioneered programs such as Know Your Farmer, which seek to reconnect Americans with local agricultural producers in a way to encourage eating more locally grown produce.

In addition, the new symbol could indicate the direction of the next Farm Bill, particularly the role of farm subsidies. In the new dietary guidelines, fruits and vegetables take up half of the recommended intake. However, current farm subsidies spend lavishly on the dairy and meat industries, with Roughly 63% of farm subsidies end up going to these industries, primarily in grain subsidies that are used as feed for livestock, while less than 10% go to fruit and vegetable producers. While the USDA has yet to officially discuss changes to farm subsidies, the retirement of the food pyramid may indicate that major changes are ahead for American agriculture.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer