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Plate

Tag: whole grains

The Union of Concerned Scientists released a new infographic, Plant the Plate, this month. Their goal was to create a visual tool to help us understand what Americans are eating today and what we should be eating according to the USDA’s My Plate recommendations. Did you notice the very large section labeled, “Refined Grains?”

This is an interesting look at how much cropland is dedicated to fruits and veggies (which signify half of “My Plate”) and in contrast, how much money is spent on other crop subsidies. It’s a simple graphic that is easy to understand, yet begins to show the disparities of what is happening now and what needs to be done. Will anything change with the new 2012 Farm Bill? That is the question that we should all be pondering right now. Learn more about Farm Bill Basics in this paper by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

From the Union of Concerned Scientists:

We should eat more fruits and vegetables. Yet billions of taxpayer dollars are used to subsidize unhealthy, processed foods while fruit and vegetable farmers get little to no support. American farmers could grow the fruits and vegetables we need for a healthy diet but local food systems need increased public support to help make it happen. Our infographic, Plant the Plate, breaks it down.

Click on the image to see the full Infographic

The “Potato Chip Study,” published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, found interesting links between certain foods and weight gain. Researches from Harvard University looked at the long-term effects of diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes in a study that included over 120,000 men and women.

4-year weight change was most strongly associated with these foods (average weight gain/loss is shown in parentheses):
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This morning the USDA unveiled the new food guide for America titled MyPlate. This plate diagram replaces the old food pyramid that we’ve seen for years (see image below). If you visit choosemyplate.gov, in addition to this diagram, you will also see these dietary recommendations:

Balancing Calories
Enjoy your food, but eat less.
Avoid oversized portions.

Foods to Increase
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
Make at least half your grains whole grains.
Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

Foods to Reduce
Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals ― and choose the foods with lower numbers.
Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

MyPlate is an obvious improvement on the Food Pyramid which can be downright confusing at times. I also really like the bright, eye-catching colors and simplistic design. Here is my take on the diagram and accompanying recommendations:
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Have you ever sat down and watched a half hour of children’s programming? How many ads do you see marketed specifically towards children? Between Ronald McDonald, the Keebler Elves, Captain Crunch and Tony the Tiger, there is no shortage of cartoon mascots tantalizing our children with visions of sugary and colorful delights.

According to a newly formed inter-agency Working Group (FTC, FDA, CDC, USDA), the food industry spends more than $1.6 BILLION each year to promote junk foods to our kids (foods high in calories, low in nutrition). They find every possible way to reach your kids using TV, the internet, video games, social media, movies, and even marketing in schools. Here is a shocking statistic:

Cookies and cakes, pizza, and soda/energy/sports drinks are the top sources of calories in the diets of children 2 through 18. Chips and french fries comprise half of all the vegetables kids eat.

Since when are french fries and chips vegetables? It’s no wonder that one in three children will be overweight or obese putting them at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and other diseases.

Yesterday, this Working Group released a set of proposed principles for the food industry to use when marketing food to children. The proposal is designed to “encourage children, through advertising and marketing, to choose foods that make a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet; and contain limited amounts of nutrients that have a negative impact on health or weight…”

Overview of the Proposal:

The basic premise is our government is trying to get the food industry to market healthy foods to kids instead of junk food.

  • Applies to children ages 2-11 and adolescents 12-17
  • Defines what  “food marketing targeted to children” means
  • Sets separate guidelines for individual foods, main dishes and meals.
  • Gives the food industry 5 years to be in compliance with guidelines (by 2016)
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