Four servings of design.

Health and medicine explained.
April 28 2005 12:53 PM

Four Servings of Design

Improving on the new food pyramid.

1_123125_123104_2112652_2116243_2117541_050427_me_launchmod

If the USDA's recommended diet helps people live long and prosper, it won't be thanks to the design of the agency's new food pyramid. The flaws are myriad. There are no icons or labels to indicate which food group is represented by each band of the pyramid's vertical rainbow of stripes. The color choices are less than intuitive. The varying widths of the stripes represent the relative amounts of each food group you should eat, but you can't grasp that information in a glance. And the yellow stripe representing fats is so narrow it almost disappears. The old pyramid wasn't without flaws, but at least it clearly showed a diet hierarchy.

In short, after spending four years and $4.2 million, the USDA has screwed up a relatively simple concept. We gave four design teams a few days to rethink the presentation of the USDA's diet. Click here for a slide show of what they produced, with alternatives ranging from an interactive bar graph to a warning label.

Jessie Scanlon is a freelance writer in New York City and a contributing editor at Wired.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.