Updated on February 23, 2017
In 1993, Oldways created the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid to deliver a scientific but unofficial answer to the USDA one.
Oldways is a nonprofit organization whose mission is health, food, nutrition and education. It collaborated with the WHO (World Health Organization) and the HSPH (Harvard School of Public Health).
The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid was an alternative to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) food pyramid, that was very much questioned.
The USDA released its Food Guide Pyramid in 1992, in the middle of a big controversy. The model did not appear for almost twelve years. The scientific area and industry leaders had different and opposed opinions against My Pyramid. The first ones insisted that the Guide should be brought out as it had been created. The food sector ruling people, on the contrary, believed that the model would harm severely their commercial interest, promoting restrictions in carbohydrates and fat. Finally, a corrected and amended version came to light, but the project was at this point mortally wounded.
Luise Light, one insider designer of the original version of the Food Guide Pyramid reported that the original one was much higher in fruit and vegetables than the released one.
Until 1979, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) nutrition guide was just a rectangle depicting four food groups: breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables, dairy and meat. This year, USDA presented a new design that turn to be highly questionable. The groups of food stood one in top of the others. The vegetables and fruits groups were at the top with the animal ones at the bottom (something that the producers and manufacturers of these foods did not like at all).
In 1980, the USDA directed a wide research project. They wanted to design a new nutrition symbol—the “eat right pyramid”—which appeared in 1991. It disappeared right away due to pressure from meat and dairy producers.
In 1992, after a year of intense debate USDA published the Food Guide Pyramid. The reason of this controversy was that the food industry complained that the Pyramid suggested that the Government tried to influence people to eat more foods from those found at the bottom of the pyramid than the ones at the top (which, of course, was the true).
Nutritionists opposed that the Pyramid encouraged eating too many portions of grains and, therefore, boosted obesity.
1993 was the year of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.
And from the part of USDA, they replaced 1992 Pyramid in 2005 with the more “acceptable” My Pyramid, a sort of “shamefaced non-understandable travesty” as some people said. Anyway, the food industry liked it because it did not show hierarchies. But most nutritionists argued that it was hardly understandable and very difficult to teach. My Pyramid lasted sis years.
IN 2011 MyPlate replaced My Pyramid , the2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Mediterranean Diet Pyramid and the USDA Food Pyramid
If you compare the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid with the USDA Food Pyramid, we can find the following differences:
In the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, the king is OIL, explicitly extra virgin olive oil.
The amounts of dairy products are smaller in the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid than in the USDA pyramid.
Fish and different meats (poultry, red meat, etc) are separated in the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid. The amount of red meat is very small. And sweets are scarce.
And finally, the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid recommends intakes on temporary basis: monthly, weekly and daily. The USDA sticks to the daily intake.
Mediterranean Diet Pyramid