MyPlate, which replaced the Food Pyramid, is pleasing and colorful. But it's a logo, not a chart—and that's a problem.
Simplicity is efficient when conveying complex information to we, the masses. So rather than serving up impenetrable charts and graphs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering new nutrition guidelines on a dinner plate, replacing the ubiquitous and often confounding Food Pyramid. The plate, known as MyPlate, is divided into four colored slices representing fruits, grains, protein, and vegetables, with dairy in a cup off to the side. It is more vibrant than the pyramid, but is it better?
The pyramid had been the chart-of-choice since 1992. Although uninspired, it did the job by recommending six to 11 servings of grains, three to five servings of veggies, two to four servings of fruit, and several servings of meat, dairy, or other protein. The plate is a simpler design but it is possibly too simplistic for the task.
Reporting on the new MyPlate, Sue Apfelbaum on the AIGA website notes, "MyPlate is far simpler to digest than MyPyramid was, and the plate is already somewhat ubiquitous as a symbol for what to eat [it is used by the National Diabetes Association, American Institute for Cancer Research, Canada's food guide, and Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine] so it should easily be accepted by the public. Exactly how much of each food type should be a part of each meal is not entirely clear from MyPlate, but each section is meant to suggest the ratio of food group on the plate, not actual portion size." The Associated Press says the USDA plate is "designed to be 'more artistic and attractive' and to serve as a visual cue for diners."