We’ve done quite a bit of ranting and issued endless criticisms of the FDA and the food pyramid. There, I said it. We did it here, and here, and talked about what you should be eating here. I’ve even offered up my own food pyramid (for carbs).
But whose food pyramid is it, anyway?
Though I regularly rail against the government’s grain-based, dairy-laden, sugar-rich recommendations, I have to wonder if anybody’s really following it anyway. Does the food pyramid make a hill of beans in the nutrition wars? We know the standard American diet is high in grain, dairy and sugar, but is this because those things are on the pyramid refrigerator magnet? Seems the other way around to me: Big Agra has an express interest in promoting cheap, unhealthy foods such as cereal and bread, and the government is simply the acquiescent mouthpiece. Marketing and advertising overwhelm the average American; the food pyramid merely reinforces the barrage.
You can make a reasonable libertarian argument that the government should not interfere with nutritional recommendations. I’m not saying I necessarily agree with that. You can also make a pretty good case that ensuring better health of the citizenry is in the government’s “interest” (not sure I like the sound of that, either). But the truth is that the government is too hamstrung bureaucratically to make sound scientific recommendations. Any recommendation the FDA or Uncle Sam makes will inevitably warrant investigation into possible political and special interest biases. And any recommendation is going to have significant detractors from the scientific community.
Who gets to say what is right and what is wrong? “Evidence” can be found for just about anything, and is. While I often get riled up about the food pyramid, I wonder if anyone even lives their lives by it – rightly or wrongly.
And should the government even be involved?