Government Releases New "Dietary Guidelines for Americans"

Summary: Americans just need to eat less. But hidden beneath the scientific language, the government is actually calling for a food revolution.

This morning, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held a press conference to release the 2010 "Dietary Guidelines for Americans." The document represents the official federal advice on nutrition—which foods to eat, in what quantity, and which to avoid—and it is updated by law every 5 years. It's a pretty big deal, because its recommendations influence all government food programs, such as school meals, Meals on Wheels, regulatory decisions, and consumer tools, such as the ubiquitous food pyramid.

Overall, the biggest change in the new guidelines is the tone, which has become much more urgent and direct. For example, the 2005 guidelines were content to note that consumers should "follow a diet that does not provide excess calories," while today's version is straightforward about the fact that to be healthy most Americans just need to eat less and move more. The change in focus can even be seen in the "appropriate intake" chapter title: In 2005, the government organized its overall consumption advice under the heading "Adequate Nutrients Within Calorie Needs," while in 2010, the section is titled "Balancing Calories to Manage Weight."

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Experts Rank the Top Ten Global Weather Events of 2010

Heat waves and floods! A bunch of weather and climate experts have compiled an authoritative list of the "Top Ten global weather events of 2010."

Just before the New Year, we ran a "Year in Review" slideshow of the extreme weather events of 2010. The Christian Science Monitor one-upped us by actually polling a bunch of weather and climate experts to get a very authoritative list of the "Top Ten global weather events of 2010." The criteria:

Voters considered the scope and unusualness of the event, its immediate human and economic impact, and whether it is emblematic of climate trends or variability.

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2010 Is Officially the Hottest Year on Record 2010 the Hottest Year on Record, Say NASA and NOAA

2010 has tied 2005 for the title of warmest year on record, but don't expect it to hold the position atop the charts for long.

Well, it's a tie actually. The final tallies are in and 2010 is even with 2005 as the warmest year on record. NASA and NOAA independently released their own reports yesterday, confirming the improbable and remarkable statistical tie. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies explains:

The two years differed by less than 0.018 degrees Fahrenheit. The difference is smaller than the uncertainty in comparing the temperatures of recent years, putting them into a statistical tie.

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2000 to 2010: Charting How the World Has Changed

Stephanie Fox and io9 create a visual depiction of how the world changed from 2000 to 2010.

Stephanie Fox designed this handsome chart for i09. It examines the differences between life 2000 and life in 2010. Not only are there nearly a billion more people on the planet, but more people than ever currently live in cities (rather than rural areas). Technology, predictably, has continued to shrink and accelerate.

Check out the full size version of the image here.

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This Exemplary Embodiment: The Year in Food Patents

I think that patent applications—where human ingenuity meets dreams of profit, within the straitjacket of line diagrams and legal prose—might be...

I think that patent applications—where human ingenuity meets dreams of profit, within the straitjacket of line diagrams and legal prose—might be my favorite literary form.

A tour through the year in food patents reveals several understated gems, from this "Grater for Gratable Food Products" to ConAgra's "Proportional Length Food Slicing System." The consistent format creates an equalizing effect, as products of massive corporate investment in R&D, such as Sysco's "High Protein, Reduced Carbohydrate Bakery Product," are shelved alongside the inventions of a lone, obsessive-compulsive salad lover whose new container design ensures that no element of the salad touches any other element until such time as the salad lover is ready to eat.

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GOOD Voter Guide to California

We help you make sense of the crazy midterm election season (at least in our home state).

It’s crazy midterm election season, and this year is a doozy—especially here in California. This guide tries to make sense of the majority of state-wide races here, which include model/actress tea party members, socialists (real ones), a Columbine victim, career politicians, evil plots by oil companies, and the potential legalization of marijuana.

Over the course of the next two weeks, we will be publishing primers about the important items on the ballot in California, and linking the pages below. Bookmark this page and come back for daily updates. Here's the schedule:

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