The USDA's food pyramid guide for healthy eating is overseen by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. They decide what Americans should eat for optimal well being. A recent investigation by the PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) into the DGAC proved quite interesting.

Even though respected nutritionists and doctors all over the country have been criticizing the food pyramid for a while, the USDA doesn't seem to care. The heavy emphasis on meat and dairy products as a necessity for good health is greatly exaggerated.

But, you ask, "Why would the committee put things on the food pyramid that aren't good for us if their job has the sole purpose of determining the healthiest diet?" Well, here's why. The committee is made up of eleven people. Six of those people have major ties to, none other, than the meat and dairy industry! Now, who's wondering if these people are actually recommending the foods in the food pyramid on health merit, or more on their economic ties to those same industries?

It also turns out that what is happening at the DGAC is illegal under federal law. Congress passed a law in 1972 which prohibited people who would use special interest influence to be on any advisory board. To bring this issue to light, the PCRM filed a lawsuit against the USDA in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. in 1999.

It would appear that the immense pressure imposed by members of the meat and dairy industry has had little effect on the USDA's Food Guide Pyramid. There is no heavy emphasis on meat and dairy products. In fact, other than the "Fats, Oils, and Sweets" category, meats and dairy products are the least heavily emphasized groups in the pyramid. Here's a poorly-drawn representation of the Food Guide Pyramid:

                          /  \
                         /    \
                        /      \
                       / Fats,  \
                      /  Oils,   \
                     /   Sweets   \
                    /              \
                   / Use Sparingly  \
                  /                  \
                /          |           \
               /  Milk     | Meat, Fish \
              /  Yogurt    | Eggs, Nuts  \
             /   Cheese    | Poultry, &   \
            /   Dairy      | Dry Beans     \
           /  2-3 Servings | 2-3 Servings   \
          /                |                 \
        /                   |                  \
       /   Vegetables       |  Fruits           \
      /   3-5 Serv.         |  3-5 Serv.         \
     /                      |                     \
   /                                                \
  /           Bread, Cereal, Rice, & Pasta           \
 /                  6 - 11 Servings                   \
I think a far better conspiracy theory involving the Food Guide Pyramid is that when it was first introduced during the Bush Administration, people swore that if you looked at is crossed-eyed (like a 3D-Stereogram), you could see a portrait of President Bush. Since the Food Guide Pyramid was distributed widely to public schools, people claimed that Bush was subliminally trying to make kids more comfortable with his image.

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