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Stop subsidizing high-fructose farmers if caring about food pyramid

Armen Hareyan's picture
New Food Pyramid

Today the USDA announced - to great fanfare, including live streaming - their new nutritional symbol. The food pyramid - roasted (or perhaps even fried at times) - as confusing and misleading, will be retired.

This isn't the first time a nutritional guide has been put out to pasture. After all, the USDA has been at this persuasion game - trying to get Americans to eat healthier - since 1894. Back in the 30s there were 12 food groups (not sure how useful that was during the Depression). Then it was cut to seven groups in the 40s. In 1956 it was skinnied down to four systems - milk, veggies/fruits, meats and bread.

That endured till the pyramid was introduced in 1992. Of course, none of this matters:

• Everyone knows what to eat more of and what to eat less of. Educating people about food is like educating them about adultery.

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• Whether it's a pyramid, a circle, a rhombus or an hourglass doesn't matter

• This is an example of bureaucrats wasting time and money - $2MM - on a futile effort. In a time when people are mocking government waste and inefficiency, the government isn't doing itself any favors.

• This will be mocked from Leno to Letterman to Jon Stewart. Do the Nutritioncrats think that will get people to eat healthier?

• We know what works: incentives. Time and time again we've seen that there is a limit people will spend for stuff that's not healthy.

• If the government really cared, it would stop subsidizing farmers who produce the high-fructose corn syrup that is a leading contributor to the obesity epidemic. Don't waste time fixing the pyramid and fix the pyramid scheme that enriches Big Ag at our expense.

By Adam Hanft, CEO of Hanft Projects
Hanft is a consumer culture expert and branding strategist. He is a regular blogger for CNN, AOL News, The Huffington Post, FastCompany.com and The Daily Beast. He is also the co-author of Dictionary of the Future