The new food pyramid is

by francine Hardaway on April 20, 2005

The new food pyramid is out — the first since the advent of the Internet. You can find it, I learned from the Wall Street Journal this morning, at No longer does the food pyramid belong to the government; it belongs to me.

So now we don’t get a poster, we get an interactive site on which we can custom tailor our nutrition program. The site is overwhelmed with visitors today, probably all of them press trying to cover the story. A just plain folk like myself can hardly get on; it takes forever to load past the first screen, where you enter your age, sex, and the amount of exercise you exaggerate about doing daily.

The next screen is supposed to produce the MyPyramid plan, personally tailored to me. After several gateway timeouts, I finally found out I’m supposed to eat 1800 calories a day, composed of five ounces of meat or beans, 1.5 cups of fruit, 2.5 cups of vegetables, 6 cups of grains, of which 3 should be whole — well, you get it. Then I was supposed to drill down to find out about portion sizes (I can click on “what is an ounce?”)and menus (Vary your veggies).

I did find out that you’re supposed to have 3 cups of green leafy vegetables a week, 2 cups of orange vegetables (you knew them as yellow), 3 cups of dry beans and peas, 3 cups of starchy vegetables (corn, green peas, lima beans and potatoes), and 6.5 cups of other vegetables: .
bean sprouts
Brussels sprouts
green beans
green or red peppers
iceberg (head) lettuce
tomato juice
vegetable juice
wax beans
These other vegetables, I suspect, are the least nutritious. They are also among my favorites. I really wanted to know why they had been consigned to “other.”

However, I could never get back in to do the research to write this blog, so I tried to enter the site another way.

Sure enough, I went to the part called MyPyramid Tracker, and I was able to sign up and sign on. Of course, I had to enter my date of birth, height and weight, which elminates half the journalists who believe in privacy and most of the general public, which should be ashamed of its height and weight.

This part of the site is accessible, but still buggy. Example:
Age: 63 <span id=”Requiredfieldvalidator2″ controltovalidate=”Age” errormessage=”Please enter an age.” display=”Dynamic” evaluationfunct.

Now what do I do? That’s my age! Should I make up one that the form will like better?

My theory: the USDA spent a fortune for this site, which will be busy for one day. By next week, it will have about six visitors a day, all schoolkids who have been assigned to go there for a class. However, those kids will leave very frustrated, because when I tried to come back as a returning user, I got <LINK href=”Styles.css” type=”text/css” rel=”sty.

When I did a refresh on my browser (and yes, it was IE, I wouldn’t even try it with Firefox or Safari), this was the result. <form name=”f

Did anyone in the USDA ever try to log in before launch?

I admire the government for trying to incorporate the latest nutrition into the latest technology. However, the same small subgroup of food faddists, cancer survivors, and triathletes who followed a nutrition program yesterday will follow one today, with or without the pyramid. Haven’t you ever been in a restaurant with someone who ordered fries with his/her meal and then turned to you and said “I know they’re not good for me, but…” Haven’t you ever been at Costco, where obese bargain hunters throng the hot dog counter and the pizza stand outside the checkout line, unable to make it home with their purchases before having a bite? Do you think any of those people are headed home to their computers to enter data into their PyramidTrackers?

I once had a friend who told me that he thought everyone ought to be allowed to smoke, drink and eat as they pleased, because they would then perish early and not be a drain on the health care system. That’s all well and good, except that fries-fanatics don’t just die; they get sick first, and consume millions of dollars in resources while we try to transplant things, bypass things, and ream out parts of their bodies.

Unfortunately, even if this site worked well, wasn’t busy, and wasn’t complicated, would not be the answer to spiralling health care costs and morbid obesity. Only personal responsibility works, and you can’t get that on the Internet.

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