Picturing the American Diet

WWII Poster of the Basic Food GroupsThe food pyramid, long an iconic part of an American education, was retired by the USDA in favor of MyPlate, a simplified icon to help us eat better at every meal. Coinciding with the announcement, The Foundation for the National Archives has curated an exhibit called “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” which takes an in-depth look at how the U.S. government has worked to guide the way its citizens eat.

The National Archive’s exhibit uncovered a fascinating poster from World War II (shown left). Perhaps the most surprising thing about this image that butter is its own food group, but it also gives a glimpse into a moment in American history when rationing threatened to leave those on the home front potentially underfed and malnourished.

Less than seventy years later, the country faces an epidemic of obesity, particularly among its children. MyPlate is offered to U.S. citizens as a tool to reduce calories, eat more fruits and vegetables and understand portion sizes.

In addition to written USDA dietary guidelines, the U.S. has illustrated its recommendations with a number of different images. The slide show below takes a look at how we got from the “The Basic 7” to MyPlate.

View A History of Nutrition in Images Slideshow

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