Alan’s been critical of USDA’s old food pyramid—particularly because it appears to promote a diet filled with starch and low in oils. Recent research suggests that plant oils can be good for you, while over-consumption of refined carbohydrates may be contributing to rising levels of obesity and diabetes.

Responding to his concerns (ha!) USDA just released its new food pyramid.  Behold:

Oh my. Talk about incomprehensible.  This thing is worse than useless. The only clear message I get out of it is that, when making choices about my diet, I should be sure to avoid eating things that aren’t food.

To be fair, the USDA website does give custom-tailored dietary guidelines, based on your sex and age. (I’m obviously not qualified to comment on the quality of those recommendations, but wouldn’t be surprised if they were of similar, er, quality to the pyramid itself.)

But to the extent that the food pyramid is supposed to be a handy memory aid to remind you of what sort of things you should be eating, it fails. Miserably.

You have to wonder about the political process that creates something like this. No, wait; actually, you don’t.

Update:  I’m just sitting here getting angrier and angrier about this thing.  Why?  Bad diets are KILLING PEOPLE. Giving people some useful & accurate information about healthy eating is the easiest & least intrusive thing the government could possibly do to change that.  But this thing is neither useful nor accurate—which makes it both a waste of money and a wasted opportunity.  And that makes me think that it’s mostly a sop to the food industries that were unhappy about being at the skinny end of the old pyramid.  Facts and cash collided; the facts bounced off, and cash stood firm.