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Fruits and veggies player bigger role in new food guidelines
food guide pic1
Mary, Sarah and Alexandra Wright pick out produce at the Turlock Farmers Market on Friday. Fruits and vegetables now make up the majority of the USDAs recommended food guidelines, and their new icon MyPlate. - photo by ANDREA GOODWIN/ The Journal

The USDA announced Friday that it has replaced the familiar Food Guide Pyramid with the more modern, and more nutritious, MyPlate icon. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled the new icon and urged Americans to follow the new, simplified nutritional guidelines.

The new logo is shaped like a dinner plate with colored sections representing fruits, vegetables, grains and protein. The new USDA guidelines suggest that at least half of every meal should be comprised of fruits and vegetables. The new guideline for grains includes a recommendation that at least half of every American’s daily grains should be whole grains.

“I encourage all Americans to follow the new dietary guidelines and become familiar with the new icon because it will serve as a compass to a healthy and fit nation,” said Benjamin.

Sugars and oils, formerly the top of the Food Guide Pyramid, are now absent from the new MyPlate icon. Information on the USDA’s website includes guidelines for avoiding “empty calories.” The new guidelines say to enjoy food, but eat less. MyPlate also urges consumers to eat lower sodium foods, drink water instead of sugary drinks, and avoid oversized portions. There are no specific portion sizes mentioned on the new MyPlate icon.

"What we have learned over the years is that consumers are bombarded by so many nutrition messages that it makes it difficult to focus on changes that are necessary to improve their diet," said Vilsack.

Turlock residents were well on their way to following the MyPlate guidelines at the Turlock Farmers’ Market on Friday. Local vendors at the weekly market sell fresh fruits and vegetables, the basis for the new MyPlate guidelines.

Yvette Mcintyre and her son Justus Mcintyre were shopping for produce at the market on Friday afternoon. Justus learned about the food guide pyramid in his third grade class, but Yvette said that she agrees more with the new guidelines. She likes to make fruits and vegetables, rather than grains, the basis of her meals.

“That’s kind of how we eat anyway,” Yvette Mcintyre said.

The full MyPlate food guidelines are available at

To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.