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Building Food Plates Where the Food Pyramid Once Stood

Three food plates that made way for the new food pyramid's replacement.

Tomorrow morning, the United States Department of Agriculture plans to roll out its latest food icon (PDF). The new icon won’t resemble a stick figure mounting a rainbow-colored pyramid. The derided, underutilized food pyramid, released in 2005, is on the way out. Goodbye, food pyramid.

The new icon won’t resemble the ideas our readers sent in as part our Redesign the Food Pyramid contest, either. Nope, it’s going to be a plain old plateful of food. And the message in the icon should be obvious. As Margo Wootan, a nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, explained, “A plate is generally what people eat off of, rather than a take-out box.”

The design will be out in the morning. So, it’s worth looking back at some of the other plate icons out there. Here's the British Food Standards Agency's Eatwell Plate:

The American Institute for Cancer research put out the "New American Plate":

And the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine put out a vegetarian Power Plate:

It will be interesting to see how the new food plate resembles these designs, especially in terms of portion sizes, and if the USDA icon actually changes our food-buying behavior.

Most of our decisions, after all, are made in the cereal aisle, in the produce section, or in the drive-thru. We generally don't look at a chart with advice about overall diet when it comes to specific purchases. That's why, in addition to a mandatory calorie counts, it's time we redesigned the nutrition label for clearer, more concise, and easier to read guidance as well.

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