Pyramids, Wheels and Three Squares a Day: How Government Shapes Our Diet
In our story Food Fight, we took a look at the ongoing battle in Los Angeles Unified School District over what constitutes a good school lunch and who is ultimately responsible for students' health. Some say it is up to parents to teach children healthy eating habits, while others say schools should take on that duty. Ultimately, the federal government guidelines are what dictate public school lunches.
In January 2012, first lady Michelle Obama won a victory in her ongoing crusade against childhood obesity in America. School lunches must now follow the federal dietary USDA guidelines, which means more fruits and vegetables and fewer unhealthy meal options will be served.
This is just the latest instance in a more than century-long series of government campaigns to get Americans fit. As the slideshow above demonstrates, Uncle Sam has long wanted you to take his food recommendations, especially during times of national crisis. The federal government mandated that Americans eat fish and butter, but said to pass on wheat bread. Each of these developments is part of (or maybe contributed to) this country's schizophrenic relationship with food. And while what passes for "healthy" has changed in the past 100 years, at a time when over one-third of Americans are obese and childhood diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions, some would argue the nation is embroiled in its biggest health crisis yet.
Take a brief tour through the history of the United States' gastronomical governance.