Most foodies with an interest in food politics are aware of the revolving door appointments between agribusiness and government. The scenario is similar in other sectors of the economy where retired government officials are employed for companies they used to regulate, or where corporate officers receive government regulation jobs, while in both cases influencing government policy in favor of big business, compromising the public welfare and safety.
So does it come as any surprise that half the people who created the Food Pyramid had ties to agribusiness? The creator of the Food Pyramid concept, Luise Light, former team leader and Special Nutrition Assistant with the USDA, claims her original Food Pyramid was completely different from the pyramid that was distributed to the American public in 1992.
Light’s true pyramid did not have starch as the foundation; the base of the pyramid consisted of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, with 5 to 9 servings daily. And 2 to 4 daily servings were recommended for whole grain cereals and grains.
Light claimed an alteration to her Food Pyramid was made at the political level. “Instead of fruits and vegetables making up the base of the diet,” she wrote, “the cereals and wheat products were made the base of the pyramid, and the recommendation [for starchy foods] was no longer 2 to 4 as we had determined but switched 6 to 11 servings! We couldn’t believe it!
“What possible rationale could there be for such an unprecedented and unjustified switch? said Light. “In fact the health consequences of encouraging the public to eat so much refined grain, which the body processes like sugar, was frightening! But our exhortations to the political heads of the agency fell on deaf ears. The new food guide, replacing the ‘Basic Four,’ would be a promotional tool to get the public to buy and consume more calories, sugar and starch.”
The 1992 official USDA (corrupt) pyramid version reflects the above mentioned broad base section of 6 to 11 servings of food in the grains-and-carbohydrates group, followed upward to 3-5 servings of vegetables, and 2-4 servings of fruits, to fewer servings of meat, poultry, fish, milk yogurt, and so on. Finally, at the pyramid’s top are fats, oils and sweets, which consumers are advised to “eat sparingly”.
Prior the the overhaul of the Food Pyramid that was subsequently released as “MyPyramid” in April 2005, a potpourri of food companies fought for positioning on the Food Pyramid where — as the Wall Street Journal noted (2004) “The tiniest change to the guidelines or pyramid can swing food companies’ sales by millions of dollars, either way. Foreign interests are weighing in, too: A representative from the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, which oversees that nation’s palm-oil exports, braved one of the longest flights in the world for a meeting with the USDA official overseeing the pyramid overhaul.”
Jeff Nedelman, a food-industry consultant noted: “Every aisle of the supermarket has a lobbyist in town. The pyramid has crumbled. The industry groups are warily circling and eying one another.”