Thursday, June 2, 2011

So Much Easier Than the Food Pyramid

What a thrilling day for artists! What a thrilling day for foodies! Today, the famous Food Pyramid has been replaced with the MyPlate!

What a thrilling day for clean eating! We have finally pried Wonder Bread and other pseudo-foods posing as the cornerstone of dietary health out from under the foundation of the Most Stable (and boring) of all artistic compositions: the Pyramid. So long, farewell, auf weidersoehn, good-bye! Those of us who have struggled long and hard against the domination of refined wheat-based food producers in the interest of clean eating are happier tonight.

Something to consider: What ancient structure has endured longer than any other human-built piece of architecture? The PYRAMIDS. What compositional shape forms the most visually static framework for a picture (and we see it in even some of the most famous paintings of history like the Mona Lisa) What also happens to be the most boring form in which to organize a painting? A PYRAMID. And how unhelpful and unhealthy we now know it to be as a model for eating today.

The great thing that has replaced it is the MyPlate. You will notice MyPlate's circular composition, the circle being synonomous with eternity. It is balanced; yet suggests an internal assymmetry. The colored divisions selected remind us of the basic building blocks of all the best paintings-namely, the color wheel. Even the little blue circle representing dairy off to the right reminds us of that lasting modern graphic icon, the mouse who lives in Orlando and Anaheim. (You know I'm right about this-so it's just one ear. No analogy is perfect.)

As much fun as I can find to poke at both of these models, I am grateful for the movement in our country to try to bring awareness to the state of the American diet. As we retire the pyramid, we admit the shortcomings of a diet based heavily on overprocessed grains and accept the salubrious effects of a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, as represented by the plate.

Eating clean fits smack into the MyPlate model-there is no "wiggle room" as there once was on the bottom tier of the pyramid to hide a Twinkie or a slice of cheesecake unnoticed amid 7 or 8 camouflaging "bread and cereal" products. So in keeping with the eating clean thread for the month, can we see the beauty in the bowl (er, plate) of the beholder? Can we get excited about lean and clean foods, foods that come more directly from field, stream, garden, or tree? Can we say we won't subsidize trash foods with tax exemptions?

I certainly hope we can. Our lives and the lives of our children and grandchildren hang in the balance.

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