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    Mysteries of the pyramids

    You gotta love stories like this. The USDA is thinking of redesigning its food pyramid, which tells you the recommended number of daily servings from the various food groups. The reasoning is…well, you can see here (note the assumptions packed into the use of but in the second paragraph):

    The [United States Department of Agriculture] is asking for public comment on whether to replace the pyramid or update it, Hentges said. He was taking no stand on that choice. “We do not have a preconceived notion,” he said.

    Federal officials say about 80 percent of Americans recognize the pyramid, but about 66 percent are overweight or obese.

    And clearly this is because the federally-approved graphic representing the ideal diet is the wrong shape. The entire article paints a pathetically humorous picture of a nation of affluent, literate, free citizens–with more dietary choices than most of history’s emperors–who have no prayer of figuring out how to eat well without the USDA. No joke. This is the second paragraph from the article:

    Too many are confused by the recommendations and can’t figure out how to implement them. The proof, Agriculture Department officials say, is that two out of three Americans are fat.

    I doubt any higher-ups from the USDA are reading this, but just in case, here is my public comment: No one gives a flying f**k about the food pyramid. Go think about something else.

    Surely somewhere in America, there’s a pig with trichinosis or a slaughterhouse with substandard sanitation to keep you occupied. As far as nutrition goes, we wouldn’t exist if thousands of years of our ancestors hadn’t known how to combine foods for a healthy diet without the assistance of a food pyramid. Granted, the problems nowadays are somewhat different. It used to be that, say, knowledge of the Three Sisters (a garden stand combining beans, squash, and maize) was precious to Native Americans because it made sure no nutrients were missing from the diet. Today, we’re so decadently rich we want to avoid getting too much nutrition.

    Still and all, everyone in America knows that you need fresh fruit and vegetables, starchy foods, and (because most of us can afford them regularly) meats, in moderate portions, for a balanced diet. Unless you’re insane, you know that you can’t expect to eat nothing but Entenmann’s pound cake and be healthy. Whether you think enriched wheat flour and high-fructose corn syrup are the foods of Satan, or think meat and carbohydrates shouldn’t be eaten at one sitting, or never eat anything but organically grown plant foods, or whatever, doesn’t change the list of essential nutrient-rich foods much. Those who prefer to eat yummy products with low food value will not be enlightened or guilt-tripped by a revised food pyramid into changing their eating habits. The taxpayers, however, will be out yet more money, and an office-full of busybodies in an industrial park will have something to do for the next few years. And we all know that’s what’s really important.

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