America….Prepare to Fill Your Plate

On June 2, the Unites States Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled the new icon that aligns with the revised dietary guidelines released in January of this year.  The new icon, which replaces the Food Pyramid, is a dinner plate that can be used to provide a visual representation of the guidelines, examples, and how to tips that are part of the overall program. In order to combat our ever increasing rates of obesity and diabetes, the new program has been created to recapture America’s attention and provide simple, easy to follow guidelines and visual aids that will help people make healthier choices.

Perhaps the USDA’s My Plate took its cue from Arizona Farm Bureau‘s Fill Your Plate or at least we’d love to think so! Since 2007, Arizona Farm Bureau has been promoting healthy, fresh Arizona agriculture with its Fill Your Plate program.

The USDA realized that to make real progress in this area they have to do more than just provide people with information.  This led to the creation of a “how-to” behavioral component that hasn’t been part of previous campaigns.  The “how-to” tips aim to help people understand how to use the guidelines in their everyday lives.  This educational piece will reinforce how to make healthy choices in food selection and overall activity.   By providing practical ways that families and individuals can incorporate the food recommendations into their daily lives, the USDA seeks to help people make healthier choices.

The Dinner Plate icon will be accompanied by six different “how-to” messages.  The messages will be released one at a time over the coming months to allow adequate time for people to digest and apply one message before the next one becomes available.

In order to get the message out to as many Americans as possible, the new icon will be used by all government agencies and many private sector companies.   This partnership ensures that every time one of the messages is communicated, it is consistent.  This consistency will be critical to the success of the program, which is mean to be simple and easy to follow for all Americans.  Beginning this week, the new icon will be everywhere.  It will be used in your child’s school.  It may show up in your work place.  It will be on the TV, in the grocery store, and at restaurants of all types.

The first “how to” message, make half your plate fruits and vegetables, puts the spotlight on the dietary guideline calling for Americans to eat more plant foods.  By filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal, you can guarantee you will get the amount you need without having to count servings or this or the nutritional content of that.  The simplicity of the message is what makes the program so powerful.

Of course, the plate makes more sense than a pyramid but for a $2 million design cost they could have consulted us. We would have saved them a few dollars!  We can’t help but say… an icon, a few simple instructions and promotions from our First Lady won’t change our eating habits if we don’t want to change. Remember, we’re Americans; we’re independent and we love to make our own food choices!

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