I know you all are waiting with baited breath to see the symbol that will replace the USDA Food Pyramid (try to think back to the posters in your school nurses’ office)-the government guide to nutrition that has been used for the last two decades.  USA Today reports:  

The government is replacing its food guide pyramid with a simpler everyday symbol: a plate. And many nutritionists are applauding the change.  The exact look of the new symbol, which is being unveiled Thursday by first lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, is under close wraps.  

Thank goodness they’re replacing that totally confusing pyramid with a much-easier-to-read dinner plate. And for heaven’s sake, I’m so glad they’re keeping the dinner plate “under close wraps.”  What would happen if this enormous government secret got out?  Oh the horror of a dinner plate leak!  

But USDA officials are super duper excited about the new dinner plate:  

What we looked for is a new simple icon that would inspire consumers to act on the dietary guidelines’ messages,” says Robert Post, deputy director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.  

Oh yes, that’s what’s going to do it!  A dinner plate, by golly. Why didn’t they come up with this before?  Millions of fat Americans are going to sit in awe at this new dinner plate and react by throwing out those chips and gallons of ice cream and commit to a life of sprouts and veggie burgers.  

I’m feeling slimmer and healthier just writing about the new dinner plate!

This whole thing reminds me of the chatter in Washington following Hurricane Katrina.  In the after-disaster congressional hearings, FEMA got a lot of the blame for the poor response.  Most of it was undeserved but FEMA was the obvious agency to kick around. 

And what was the solution thought up by the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee that oversaw FEMA operations?  Well…just rearrange the agency and give it a new name.  Yeah, that’s what we’ll do. We’ll rearrange these deck chairs and add a few letters to the acronym and that’ll fix everything. 

It never happened (thanks in large part to a brilliant Senator Tom Coburn complaining about the cost of repainting all those damned FEMA vehicles) but it was considered a valuable and much-needed solution to FEMA’s many management problems. 

Washington loves to switch things around, change the name of things, without digging deep into the details of why the problem exists in the first place. 

In 20 years, some whiz kid at the USDA (or another trim First Lady with perfect arms) will look at that plate and say “no, no, no!  The plate’s too complicated for fat people to understand….how about a pyramid?”