Notes On the Official Pyramid(s)

Not surprisingly the new USDA dietary guidelines, as promoted in the latest pyramid, do get at least some things right.

Why is it then that our presumably well-intentioned officials so relentlessly persist in getting a whole lot of VERY important things SO OUTRAGEOUSLY WRONG? Could it possibly be that the main purpose of the USDA lies in the promotion of agriculture (or more accurately agribusiness), and by neccessary extension the various close allies (and partners in crime) of agribusiness - which include the giant chemical and processed food industries?

This "partnership" between the USDA, agribusiness and assorted allies are obviously good for business but potentially disasterous for us.  

Make no mistake: WHAT YOU EAT is of paramount importance to a whole panoply of special interests that have sprouted up around the business of diet, health and nutrition. It would be one thing if this meant improved health for you. Unfortunately, too many of these special interests have relied upon generations worth of myth and half-truths layered atop still more half truths - with most of it produced and perpetuated by decades of business-sponsored propaganda and spin. Even worse - and by getting swept up in one or more of these USDA-spawned "spins" - veritable armies of hard-working, highly dedicated health professionals and holistic groups unwittingly contribute to what amounts to a massive disinfo campaign

The truth, as revealed by an honest evaluation of the real facts, is in there somewhere - but only if you choose to look very hard, and look to the historical record.

So, what's so wrong with the new (and old) guidelines?

First, and maybe the most telling, the new (and old) guidelines do not address nor emphasize the importance of food quality, as represented by natural, whole, unrefined foods properly grown and prepared. You know . . . the kind of foods produced by responsible, sustainable, mostly local, small family farmers. The kind of foods which are then wisely, carefully prepared by someone a little closer to home than SaraLee or General Mills - or for that matter, any other source that depends on the chemical plants off the New Jersey turnpike. (To borrow a phrase from Eric Schlosser.)

As one example of what is so wrong with the new/old guidelines is the fact that they recommend AGAINST raw  whole milk, and FOR fat-reduced or fat- free commercial, highly processed milk.  Commercial milk is in reality little more than junk food and removing the fat makes the calcium and many other nutrients not destroyed by pasteurization and homogenization more difficult to absorb.

If you drink pasturized milk, make it whole fat, make it organic, and if possible make it non-homogenized. Best choice for building health is to locate a source for certified, fresh, raw whole milk from humanely treated, pastured cows (or goats). Include the cheese, yogurt, kefir and other products associated with such milk - or learn to make some of it yourself.  If you are not familiar with the many health benefits of raw milk and dairy, the place to start for high quality information is with the Campaign for Real Milk.

Another example of the many problems with the new/old guidelines centers on grains. The guidelines recommend whole grains IN ADDITION TO ENRICHED GRAIN PRODUCTS. Hmmm, maybe General Mills had something to do with this, as they have been promoting the new pyramid along with their new ersatz "whole grain" cereals. Sad to say this may actually be an improvement, meaningless though it is, over the "enriched" products which of course include the ubiquitous white breads and other products made from enriched flour

Who among us now regards white bread or white flour products as good, health-giving nutrition, even when we are subtly encouraged to do just that by such "scientific" guidelines? As a result of said encouragement however and the ready availabilty of "enriched' products, how many of us allow ourselves to displace precious nutrient-rich foods with such obvious junk food?  This of course does not even allude to the many problems with commerical grain products in our food supply, nor the healthiest ways to prepare them. (For more information see our grains and mycotoxins page.)

Although we could go on with more problems with the new/old guidelines, last on this particular list of examples has to do with "F" word: FAT!  Yet once again, throughout these and previous guidelines, we are warned about fat intake, especially saturated fat. Don't these guys ever read anything?

You can check out a few sources and information regarding fat on our Cholesterol: Myths and Facts page. In addtion, in September of 2004, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition printed the results of a "meta-analysis" of studies that examined saturated fat intake. This "meta-analysis" was conducted by researchers of the Department of Food Science and Technology, at the University of California, Davis.  Here is a recap of what they found, as cited from a Health Science e-letter:

As we have said many times in other pages, the Weston A. Price Foundation provides some of the best, most well-documented food and nutrition information that we have found on the web - or anywhere. The Price Foundation submitted written testimony on several occasions to the USDA "Guidelines Advisory Committee", and had the opportunity to speak before the Committee in public hearings. We include a selection of their very enlightening comments below (together with our own modifications in brackets). The full text is here.

Maybe now  our Top 14 Foods page makes more sense?

The conclusion of this "Food Pyramid" article sums the situation up well:

"The very name MyPyramid tells us the government is squarely placing all responsibility for eating right with you and me. Never mind those pesky government subsidies and tax breaks to big agribusiness and food manufacturers that make unhealthy food so cheap and ubiquitous. Thank goodness Uncle Sam has now created a website to counter all that. . . Now that the pyramid has been completely hijacked by the food industry and promises to be as useless an educational tool as it ever was, it’s time to hang up the effort altogether. Just think of all the money government could save in addition to $2.5 million if it really wanted to improve America’s eating habits: no more paying for expensive PR firms, corporate welfare, high healthcare costs, or fitness bimbos."