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Food Pyramid Critics Favor Switch to Triskaidecagon
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Keep the food pyramid's shape, but add some more sides so it fits better on marketing materials, food industry and consumer group officials told a panel of Agriculture Department representatives. The department is revising its nutrition graphic to reflect new eating guidelines that are due out early next year by a dietary guidance advisory committee. "Changing the thing for health reasons is well and good," said Sandy Morgan, of Occidental Food Conglomerates, "But the priority for our industry is getting rid of this triangle shape. It's murder incorporating it into attractive package designs." The industry favors a 13-sided near-circle, referred to as a Triskaidecagon, or 13-gon.

"When I see that little triangle on a packet, It's like a stump of approvement."
-- An Unintelligent Man
"The future of the pyramid design is totally open," said Eric Hentges, executive director of the department's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, "I can't say we immediately favor the idea of giving up the metaphor of the pyramid -- each layer building upon and dependant upon the layer beneath it -- but we're open to what private industry has to say."

Surveys have found that about 80 percent of Americans recognize the shape. Many said such brand recognition should not be cast aside. "When I see that little triangle on a packet, I know I'm getting some food that the gov'mint has proved is good for me," said one unintelligent man pushing a grocery cart full of Cool-Whip and sardines, "It's like a stump of approvement."

"Clearly, changing the shape now would mean abandoning the great level of awareness it has established," Donnie Ciekdame, director of university nutrition at Louis University in Washington, told the panel, which also included Health and Human Services Department officials, "Even though most of the dolts that are 'aware' of it don't get it, at least they know it when they see it. It would be better to simplify the existing 3-sided structure even more, until at least a few people seem to know what it means, rather than embarking on an adventure to add 10 more sides to the thing."

The current pyramid has a broad base of bread, cereal, rice and pasta, at six to 11 servings a day, with meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts on the next-to-narrowest tier, at two to three servings a day. Recommendations for a 13-sided version include dividing the whole structure into 13 triangles that meet in the middle. "That way, no one food appears to be 'superior'," explained Morgan, "Each food is simply a spoke in the wheel of good nutrition. The Twinkie enjoys equality with the carrot, which is no longer subservient to the mighty bread."

Earl Bobb, senior director for nutrition policy at the National Food Processors Association, said they should be listed the way portions are listed on food packages, "and not laid out to suit the whims of an industry that is long on presentation and short on information. We don't want to let another 'serving suggestion' farce get rolling here."
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