New USDA Guidelines With Tons of Seafood..

The blogosphere is buzzing with the latest iteration of the Food Pyramid – now the Food Plate – put out from the USDA. While I sit rather on pins and needles waiting to hear commentary from Michael Pollan and folk (really, I want to know how they see it) I have to notice one major thing about this new “icon” of healthy eating guidelines:  The USDA really thinks you should be eating a lot of seafood.  A lot.

From their website:

Vary your protein choices.

Choose seafood at least twice a week as the main protein food. Look for seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout, and herring. Some ideas are:

  • Salmon steak or filet
  • Salmon loaf
  • Grilled or baked trout

Note that there is no mention of wild caught or farmed, a major distinction, and you have to scroll all the way to the bottom to get a hint of the problems associated with consuming mercury alongside the trout, swordfish, or scallops.

I know, I know.. hoping that the USDA will put up links from their guideline site (a starting point) to say Monterey Bay’s Seafood Watch advisories or Blue Ocean Institute’s similar resource would be breathtakingly proactive and farsighted.  But isn’t that the sort of thinking we wanted from our elected officials?  I know it’s what I wanted.

I am waving the flag of celebration tonight that the guide seems to be quite the leap forward from the old food pyramids I used to puzzle over while reading cereal boxes on Sunday mornings at the breakfast table in the 1990s.  (Truly, I can remember wondering how I would eat 10-12 bowls of cereal every day for my pyramid-bottom-grains.)   But I wouldn’t say this is much of a victory.  Not until the seafood selections mention side-by-side the issues with mercury contamination for everyone in the population, not just expectant mothers and very small children, as well as the problems that come with consuming a wild resource and a particular species’ sustainability.


2 Responses to “New USDA Guidelines With Tons of Seafood..”

  1. You are right, its good that they have changed the old, inaccurate, picture of what we should eat, but its disturbing that the new “food plate” is still too simplistic. Not only do we have a resource problem, but a health problem with this notion of sea food twice a week. I am also concerned about mercury and heavy metals, especially in children and pregnant women.