The Food Pyramid as we know it has officially disappeared.

Since 1958, The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Guide has been telling Americans how we should eat. At first, the USDA utilized a rectangle depicting the four major food groups (dairy, meat, fruits and vegetables, and grains).

The Food Pyramids

Then, in 1992, they released a Food Guide Pyramid in an effort to offer a clearer visual example of what we should be eating. The 1992 pyramid indicated that grains should make up the largest part of our diet, followed by fruits and vegetables, then meat and dairy, and finally a small amount of fats, oils, and sweets.

But the pyramid was controversial, and was replaced again in 2005 by MyPyramid. Apparently, no one liked that one either, because the pyramid design has now been abandoned completely in favor of, get this, an actual plate.

A novel idea, huh, using a plate to show people what types of food they should be putting on...their plates?

New Food Plate Is Meant to Be Easier to Understand

Compared to the older pyramids, the new food plate, known as MyPlate, is meant to be simple and easy to understand.

In article for The Washington Post, Robb MacKie, head of the American Bakers Association, is quoted as saying:

"It's brilliant in its simplicity. It's something the average American can look at and get a visual feel for how they can fill up a plate at a meal."

MacKie is right. MyPlate is simple. The circular plate (which you can learn more about at the USDA's ChooseMyPlate website) is covered by fruits and vegetables on one half, while grains and proteins occupy the other half. A small portion of dairy rests to the side.

Is MyPlate Really a Step in the Right Direction?

First Lady Michelle Obama was heavily involved in the launch of the new MyPlate program, and many nutritionists are excited to see a design that promotes fruits and vegetables as such a large part of every meal.

The new plate design is not without it's critics, though. Some are questioning why dairy is considered a necessary part of a healthy diet (and believe that the dairy industry has contributed substantial amounts of money to ensure its inclusion), while others are disappointed that the new plate fails to mention the importance of organic produce, whole grains, or meat that is free from antibiotics.

Still, most seem to believe that the USDA's new plate is a step in the right direction when it comes to encouraging healthier eating habits. It certainly seems like a better teaching tool than the confusing pyramids, and you've got to admit that it's definitely a step up from the old days when we learned in school that the four food groups were all created equal.

What do you think? Do you like the new MyPlate? Will it affect your food choices?

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