We Need Policy Not Plates
by Jillian Michaels
Posted June 12, 2011

Michelle ObamaFirst Lady Michelle Obama recently announced a change from the food pyramid as our government’s primary food group symbol in favor of a simple plate icon, called MyPlate. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the new tool stresses which foods to add more of to your diet, such as fruits, vegetables, protein, and whole grains, while reducing others like sodium and sugary drinks.

The First Lady did admit the above is an issue: “It [MyPlate] can’t ensure our communities have access to affordable fruits and vegetables,” she said. “That’s still work we need to do.”While it’s great that she is encouraging those issues as part of the public discussion, they need to be an urgent priority, certainly before the USDA unveils an illustration that doesn’t really add anything new to the picture.

So what “work” is the current administration and USDA doing to combat that issue? Nothing. Wait, I take that back — worse than nothing. They are instrumental in perpetuating and even exacerbating the problem through our existing federal agribusiness policy. Our government essentially subsidizes soda, with literally billions of our tax dollars flowing to genetically modified corn in large part to produce high-fructose corn syrup. The message it sends to its citizens with MyPlate, however, is to “drink water instead of sugary drinks.” What’s also an infuriating contradiction is how the plate doesn’t want us to drink sugary drinks, yet the USDA has no problem with the fact that millions of children drink chocolate milk at schools on a daily basis. Unless the government plans on matching crop subsidies to the recommendations of MyPlate (that is, subsidizing fruits and vegetables, rather than corn and soy to make nutritionally inferior processed garbage), nothing will change. In fact, the problem will only continue to get worse. More…