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Grab Your Fork and Travel Back in Time With These Old USDA Dietary Guidelines

Wheels, pyramids and plates—dietary recommendations have come a long way in the last century

(USDA/Public Domain)

What should you eat today? If it's up to the USDA, you'll fill your plate with fruits, vegetables and whole grains, cut your sugar to fewer than ten percent of the calories you consume, and limit saturated fat. The agency just released its 2015 guidelines, following its tradition of updating dietary recommendations every five years.

While experts chew on what the new recommendations mean, why not take a look at the recommended plates of yesteryear? Here's how USDA dietary advice has changed over the years:

1894: Farmer's Bulletin

The USDA first got into the food recommendation game in 1894, when it published a farmer's bulletin, which layed out general considerations for how food should be thought about and consumed. The guide touted milk as coming "nearest to being a perfect food" and noted that "a man might live on beef alone, but it would be a very one-sided and imperfect diet." It made recommendations based on a person's profession—for example, a "man at moderate work" should consume 3,160 calories per day, while an "adult in full health" should consume 3,140 calories per day.


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