You know what happened in 1917?!
Well, yes of course. World War I was underway… aaand Ernest Borgnine was born! And the food pyramid was conceptualized! It wasn’t a “pyramid” yet, but the nutritional curriculum was present.
One hundred years of government-controlled dietary guidelines! Yeah, USDA! The United States Department of Agriculture decided a century ago that Americans didn’t know how to feed themselves. Don’t tell ME what to eat! Well, maybe they were right…the screens fades out and then back again… amidst the fog curtain of coal smoke draped from the average depression-era street corner, your regular Joe chews on the day’s fourth cow hoof hoagie, as his children unwrap pig neck sandwiches at the schoolhouse.
Anyway, during the depression, the USDA expanded the compartmentalized dietary guidelines into 12 food groups (or at least divided produce and grains into sub-categories). This was to provide more accessible categories for the poor masses to plan balanced meals with. The “food dodecagon”. Come on USDA, it’s the depression, man. I’m not trying to keep track of twelve food groups, friend. Besides, which section are the pig necks in?
So, what started with five food groups expanded to twelve. Then apparently in the mid-20th century, dietary groupings were shaved down to seven, and then again to four. The “basic four”, they were called. The “food square”: milk, meat, grains, produce. Bang! Sounds good to us. What more do you need? Milk? Check. Meat? Check. Pasta? Check. Roughage? Okey doke.
You know what happened in the 1970’s? Yup – Nixon, ‘Nam, disco, aaaaand the food pyramid! For real, the food pyramid rose to power above the food square and food dodecagon before it. The pyramid stages a coup on the “milk, meat, grains, roughage” model. The square is overthrown, and put down. The rise of the pyramid begins. All hail now to fats and oils. Pledge allegiance to six basic food groups. And like the Egyptians of old, we live by the pyramid. Behold, your balanced daily nutritional intake guide…