USDA Dietary Guidelines and My 3 Step Food Philosophy


(photo: eat more real food like tomatoes, red onion, sardines packed in olive oil, fresh whole milk mozzarella, great bread, and red wine) 

The web is on fire with talk about the recently revised dietary guidelines from the USDA.  The USDA, which updates their food recommendations every five years, now suggests reducing the intake of sodium, eating less food, and consuming more fresh foods, however, and as the food pragmatist Mark Bittman suggests:

“…aside from salt, the agency buries mostly vague recommendations about what we should be eating less of: we’re admonished to drink “few or no” sodas — hooray for that — and “refined grains,” Solid Fats and Added Sugars.”
Michael Rhulman, yet another food critic whom I admire greatly, simply asserts if the government wants to regulate how we eat then why don’t they tax the mega-corporations making and selling crappy food and teach the US population how to “roast a chicken and make pasta carbonora?”

My food philosophy is similar to both Ruhlman and Bittman and is centered on three important pillars:
  1. Make Italian (or any other simple ethnic food) from scratch (with the best ingredients you can afford) and repeat the process.
  2. Avoid eating out and processed/prepackaged food.
  3. Derive happiness and quality of life from eating high quality food and pass the tradition on to your family and children (you’ll surprised how nice life is when you eat well).
So, my advice on the revised USDA guidelines: ignore them.  Eating well can never start with government intervention, rather it starts with individuals and families making a conscious decision to take ingredients and, in turn, the preparation of food seriously.
Immigrants and 1st generation Americans have a huge advantage when it comes to eating well, but all of us can, in Bittman’s words, begin to eat “real food” by trying new recipes, seeking out good ingredients, and moving away from the concept of consuming food that hasn’t been prepared by the consumer (viz., you)!


  1. Preach it! Well written.
    I think somewhere along the way, people decided that quantity > quality. Everything we do in between is just trying to fix the problems with the mindset, as opposed to changing the mindset in the first place.

  2. Totally agreed both with you, and the above comment. The US is *all* about quantity, and zero concern with quality! I dont know why the USDA even bothers, I mean the FDA allows anything, no matter how harmful, unless it would cause immediate death! (Hell even then, if the right person paid them the right amount… ugh.)
    I am so so thrilled to be living in Europe (I’m American), where even in packaged products there is not remotely the same concerns. Over here they actually do regulate, and don’t allow companies to put all that garbage into foods! But yes, we cook our dinner every night, and are very happy with it! Fresh & frozen veggies used, etc. I don’t always make tomato-based sauces myself, but again, unlike in the US where they are chock-full of all sorts of nastiness, here there is very little preservatives/extras in them. What bothers me a lot though, is even in cookbooks, the ingredients will be “Bisquick mix” “can condensed X soup” and even “can of mushrooms” WHAT?! Why on earth would I ever use canned mushrooms?! Ick! Corn is the only veggie I get in a can here, plus legumes (canned beans are soooo much simpler! haha). Anyway point being, this is the way people are “learning” to “cook” their own food! Agh! Fortunately I have the knowledge (and the internet ;)) to be able to replace these things with homemade “substitutes,” but it’s crazy!
    Erm, kay, no more rambling! =P Great blog! =D

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