A Better Food Plate: With No USDA Politics

The more you read about nutrition in the U.S., the more you realize that the USDA is not your friend.  While it once had the distinction of protecting us from food producers, the lines are now so blurred that the agency is frequently more harmful than helpful to its constituency.

Recently the agency scrapped the Food Pyramid for the Food Plate which was a step in the right direction but still resulted in a finished product riddled with influence from food lobbyists.

Harvard has decided to answer the USDA Food Plate with its own.  Their plate is similar to the USDA’s, but it swaps dairy for water and adds healthy oils in small amounts.  It explains protein choices a bit better.  There’s also a lot more text and it specifically bans potatoes.  The complete omission of dairy implies that it’s all bad.

I’m still really on the fence about dairy but have found the more that I cut back on it, the better I feel.  I know this is a loaded topic and Marion Nestle (I’m a big fan of hers) had an interview with the Boston Globe last week where she defended healthier dairy choices like skim milk and low-fat yogurt.  I would add they should both be organic too.

The Harvard plate says to go easy on fruit juices (higher in sugar than the actual fruit) and to choose the healthiest choices for protein from vegan beans and nuts to leaner cuts of animal protein.  It also says to ditched processed meats like bacon and deli.

I feel defensive about the sweet potato; they’re very healthy and I eat them regularly.  I’ll also have just a plain baked potato with salsa for lunch every once in a while and I think that’s okay.   I’m surprised that they banned potatoes but not soda.  They only caution “go easy on sugary drinks.”

What do you think about this alterna-version of the Food Plate?  Does the extra information help clarify a few things for you?  Do you think it’s easier to follow?  Will you follow it?

Here are my original thoughts on the USDA Plate.  I’d love to hear yours too.