New Building Blocks for Healthy Eating


USDA Alternative Food Groups

In 1994, the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) established the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion with a primary goal of improving nutrition throughout our country. After 19 years of promoting the age-old food pyramid for healthy eating, the USDA* sought to bring new life to the five (5) essential food groups. One of the Center's initial challenges was to create a new image that would take the USDA's health and wellness programs into the twenty-first century. In keeping with agency's goals, ChooseMyPlate.gov was launched to engage and educate consumers online.

Working within the USDA's assigned areas of responsibility, the Center began to focus on the applied research needed to redefine dietary guidelines for all ages. One of the first orders of business was to improve the graphic depiction used to promote healthy eating. Understanding the importance of portion control within the primary food groups, the agency decided on a logo that features a white plate and fork on a bright green place mat. Inside the plate, four of the food groups (fruits, grains, vegetables and protein) are featured as unequal pie-shaped sections representing the recommended portion sizes. The correct portion size for the more controversial dairy group is represented by a blue circular image.

Want to Become a MyPlate Master?

After eliminating unnecessary details, the simplified logo design for healthy eating makes it easier for consumers of all ages to see what an ideal meal looks like. In addition, the Center developed an interactive approach to educating Americans about each food group through creative online quizzes. To determine how much you know about the USDA food groups, answer ten questions for each category. ChooseMyPlate.gov will respond by providing the correct answers. If you score 100%, you are recognized as a "MyPlate Master" for that food group. The website is mobile friendly and provides an entertaining way of educating family members, church groups, school classes or anyone with Internet access. 

*NOTE: For over 100 years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided Americans with different types of food guides and pyramids to encourage healthy food choices. MyPlate Challenges encourage healthy eating and physical activity through fun & friendly competition.

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