The United States Department of Agriculture released the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, a little bit late–on January 31, 2011. And according to the Harvard School of Public Health, the recommendations are behind the times as well. The new USDA guidelines emphasize a diet rich in plants and fish, and replacing some of the high-fat protein like red meat with plant-based proteins like legumes. But the pyramid still allows low-fat dairy products, and up to half of carbohydrate intake can include refined grains like white flour. Even potatoes raise the level of blood sugar more quickly than whole grains.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz published a detailed analysis of the debate between the Harvard School of Public Health and the USDA, which is accused of having too strong a connection with the American dairy and beef industries. The article pointed out that Israel’s own food pyramid still shows pita, made with refined flour. Updated in 2008 but ignoring 2008 USDA updates, it gives equal nutritional weight to meat and legumes. Soda and candy appear at the top of the Israeli pyramid, as a food recommended in small quantities.
Harvard’s version of the food pyramid, pictured below, focuses on exercise, weight control, healthy fats and whole grains. The Healthy Eating Pyramid is more environmentally friendly, recommending avoiding processed foods and limiting the amount of meat, dairy and egg products. The cattle and poultry industry introduce large amounts of amounts of antibiotics and hormones in the environment. Meat and dairy products are less efficient as a food source than vegetables, although animal manure is important for agriculture.