06.01.2011 1

A $2 Million Dinner Plate

By Rebekah Rast – Roughly 46 million Americans, 14 percent of the U.S. population, rely on the federal government’s food stamps program.

This is an 11 percent increase from one year ago and nearly 61 percent higher than the same time four years ago.

More than half of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s budget is nutrition assistance programs.

Despite the fact that the government is having to support more people than ever before on its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the possibility of a cut fiscal year 2012 budget by Congress, the Department of Ag is revamping an old marketing symbol.

The price tag on this symbol’s makeover: $2 million.

It has been decided that after two decades the food pyramid has not done its job.  The new symbol, designed to resemble a dinner plate, contains wedges representing each food group.  Much of the plate is taken up by food groups consisting of vegetables and fruits.  A small round circle off to the side of the plate is said to represent dairy—a glass of low-fat milk possibly.

The New York Times writes that the food pyramid was dismissed because it was “too confusing and deeply flawed.” Maybe this is why Americans continue to eat fast food and other wallet-friendly items—they couldn’t follow the logic of the food pyramid.

Never mind that those dependent upon the government’s food stamp program could feed a family of four for less than $20 at any fast-food restaurant.  With the rising costs of fuel and food and a deepening recession, this is a more viable option for many Americans on a tight budget.

The government’s focus should be getting the 14 percent of Americans dependent on food stamps off the program and providing for themselves.

Americans know how to eat. No diagram, whether a pyramid or dinner plate, is going to make a difference in eating habits.

What will make a difference is a healthy economy, giving people the means to shop and cook a healthy meal at home.

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG).  You can follower her on twitter at @RebekahRast.

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