You are browsing the archive for american diet Archives - Food from East.

USDA New Food Plate

Categories: Articles, Food Culture, Food Education, Nutritional Information

Discussion of other food plate concepts

Against the wishes of some knee-jerk conservatives, the USDA food pyramid is now a thing of the past. Good riddance. That construct was a terror on our nation. With that, First Lady Michelle Obama today revealed the USDA’s update on America’s visual guide — because Americans need a guide to eat, you see — which is a vast improvement over the former dietary image of sloth and ruin.

You like? The new food plate has seven key components:

– Enjoy your food, but eat less
– Avoid oversized portions
– Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
– Make at least half your grains whole grains
– Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
– Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers
– Drink water instead of sugary drinks

While we cannot get behind switching our milk to fat-free or low-fat — that’s just wrong, Michelle! — we love the new guide, especially the part about making your mealtime plate half fruits and vegetables. (Aside: if you’re over the age of 16 and still loathe vegetables, you should consider seeing a head doctor. That’s just odd behavior. And we want to help.)

Also, some sort of nationwide ban on walnuts should be prominently marked on there. Because walnuts are disgusting. Alas, we’re splitting hairs. We digress.

USDA spent $2 million to design and promote the new plate, notes the New York Times.


Patient Resources — books and movies

Categories: Articles

There have been a number of great books and movies in the past few years that connect the modern American diet and its concomitant issues with industrialized food production methods. I thought I’d recommend some of them here in case anyone treats a patient who is enthusiastic about the subject of diet and wants to learn more.

If you’ve read or seen other interesting books or movies about this subject, or about diet at all, please add them to this discussion. I’d love to hear what other people have found useful in their search for good information about food.


In Defense of Food
by Michael Pollan

Straightforward advice about how to navigate the modern supermarket knowing what we know about how we should eat. Well-written and accessible to a general audience, this book encapsulates Pollan’s other, longer books into a set of principles that should help the reader make good dietary decisions for themselves.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma
by Michael Pollan

An in-depth look at food production practices in the United States, from farm to table. Pollan traces the origins of three different meals back to their roots in this book, which is more detailed and longer than In Defense of Food. Maybe not where I’d start someone just getting interested in the subject, but if they want to know more, this is a great source of information about industrial farming, organic farming, foraging, and susatainable agriculture.

Fast Food Nation
by Eric Schlosser

A comprehensive investigation into the history and development of the fast food industry in the United States. Schlosser takes on all of the issues raised by fast food’s industrial processes: health issues, animal cruelty, abuse of meat packing workers, fast-food marketing to children. If someone really wants to know where fast food comes from, and is ready to never eat it again, then this is the book they should read.


“Fast Food Nation” has also been made into a movie, but in terms of a compelling story about fast food overload, “Super-Size Me” wins the prize. Morgan Spurlock eats only at McDonald’s for 30 days to the horror of his doctors and his vegan-chef girlfriend, and he seriously endangers his health in the process. Entertaining, disturbing, and a little gross, this movie is definitely fun to watch; and it’s full of interesting fast-food factoids.

“King Corn” is the story of two guys who plant an acre of corn in Iowa and then trace its journey from farm to processing plant to make animal feed and high-fructose corn syrup. An interesting picture of Iowa farms, and an unsettling story about how corn became the #1 crop in the U.S. and the most prevalent ingredient in the modern American diet.

“Food, Inc.” covers very similar ground to the Pollan and Schlosser books above — in fact, it heavily features both men and is co-produced by Schlosser. A good, brief introduction to the problems created by current industrial methods of farming, from diabetes to unfair immigration laws.