Food Pyramid revised: the 4 Food Truth Food Groups

Although I love 70's fashion and music (think bell-bottoms and Tom Petty), not everything that went down in that decade worked out so well.

Let's face it, perms and the Food Pyramid were fails. The presumed concept behind the Food pyramid was good: eat a variety of foods in the right proportions. Too bad it was funded by industry and the proportions were off: too much grain and sugar and not enough nourishing fats.

We got fat and sick and the processed food companies got rich. 

Before that we had the popular "Basic 4" food groups:


The 4 Food Truth Food Groups are a revision of that tired old model and here they are for your consideration:


It's well documented and understood that plants are nourishing to us for their micronutrients and fiber. But consider how sustainable they are as well. If you leave some of the plant when you harvest, it will keep producing continually throughout the season and then produce seeds in order to grow more next year. 

This miraculous process is mentioned with the Divine endorsement of plants as food in the first chapter of the Bible (Genesis 1:29). "Then God said: "Here I have given to you every seed-bearing plant that is on the entire earth and every tree with seed-bearing fruit. Let them serve as food for you.""  There it is: immense variety and sustainability to keep our bodies running bright and beautiful. 


 Muscle tissue is fundamentally protein and thus needs the building blocks of protein to regenerate. While plants contain these essential amino acids in small quantities, animal proteins provide more bioavailable components. The same can be true of certain vitamins as well**. Although most cuts of meat are muscle tissue, the most nutritious parts of an animal may be the ones that get ignored these days. The nutrient-dense organs (named "offal") were traditionally considered the most desirable but in the last 100 years they have become very unpopular and are often regarded as "awful". However, there is compelling reason to eat the liver, heart, kidneys, even tongue and brains of healthy pastured or wild animals because of the rich stores of bioavailable vitamins and minerals they contain. Also, joint-strengthening glucosamine in broth made from the bones stimulates collagen production for healthy skin, hair, nails and arteries. 

Admittedly, these are not your mother's food groups... (most likely she would shriek at the FATS group) but the 4 food groups in this model are the most nutritious foods to seek out for optimal health. 


Healthy fats are crucial to skin and brain health, hormone production and absorption of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). And by the way, fat tastes really good too. Why? Perhaps it's the viscosity, the "mouthfeel" or that the fatty acids bind to the sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami receptors on your tongue, enhancing these flavors. Food doped with MSG will enhance your perception of flavor too and stimulate your appetite for more and more and more... (think Doritoes) but healthy fats satisfy your appetite while enhancing flavor naturally (think buttered vegetables).


Before the mass production and shipping of food, you would wait until the peach tree bore its succulent fruit in Summer or the apples turned red in the Fall before enjoying every last one until the following year. Nuts fell from trees once a year and plants produced seeds to gather up on occasion as well. You would have to compete with the squirrels to gather enough to store up for the months ahead. 

This scarcity and biodiversity was probably better for us nutritionally than our current pattern of eating where most things are amply available year round and we tend to eat the same things constantly. I've heard the argument that this type of eating is to blame for our foods sensitivities. It's plausible, though there are probably other reasons as well.

What I know for sure is that blueberries grown in hothouses under artificial lights in petroleum-based fertilizer and shipped thousands of miles in plastic containers to your supermarket cannot compare to the ones you pluck from the stem warm in July. That's the real argument for seasonal eating.

Here they are again, in short:


including the nutrient-dense leaves, shoots and roots. 


from pastured or wild animals and fish. 


nourishing natural fats, not hydrogenated man made fats.


the parts of a plant produced occasionally that should be eaten occasionally or in small quantities.


*This model omits the BREAD & CEREAL category altogether because grains have become problematic for many and are implicated in a number of issues like inflammation, the precursor to disease and weight gain leading to metabolic syndrome and obesity.

**For example, only animal products contain true vitamin A (retinol). Carotenoids and retinoids found in fruits and vegetables must be converted in the digestive tract. See the book "Deep Nutrition" by Catherine Shanahan, MD, p.140.