The USDA released its updated food guidelines today, and Martion Nestle at Food Politics is actually impressed.
I’m in shock. I never would have believed they could pull this off. The new guidelines recognize that obesity is the number one public health nutrition problem in America and actually give good advice about what to do about it: eat less and eat better. For the first time, the guidelines make it clear that eating less is as priority.
But Nestle revived a criticism she's had for a long time: that the guidelines only name specific foods when they're telling you to eat more of them -- like fruits and vegetables -- and then, when they warn about eating less, they switch to nutrients -- like salt. That's hard for people to understand and doesn't keep the message parallel. Nestle also says they're still more about personal responsibility and less about the food system that promotes American agricultural products and the companies that make food.
Which is why the Onion video is both hilarious and disturbing. On the one hand, it seems obvious to say, "Just eat a freaking carrot!" And there are some things Americans could change, easily, just by making better choices. But there's also a long-entrenched system in which Americans benefited from the growth of processed foods because, frankly, no one has the time or money they used to: We're overworked and get smaller paychecks for our effort. There's a reason premade pasta sauce and dried spaghetti from a box is the new version of a home-cooked meal, and a lack of personal responsibility didn't lead us there.
-- Monica Potts