A brief history of USDA nutrition advice

Or, You Can Give the People a Food Guide But You Can’t Make Them Eat Their Veggies

Chart by David Walbert, The Rooted Cook

Quantities listed are daily servings unless otherwise noted. See the notes (icon) for more information.

Year Guide or Model No. of food groups Protein-rich foods Bread & cereals Fruits & vegetables Other
Milk Meat Nuts & Beans Eggs Vegetables Fruit Fat Sweets Alcohol
1894
Principles of Nutrition

(See note)

1916 How to Select Foods and other buying guides 5
Meats and other protein-rich foods
10% of calories from  milk, 10% of calories other
Cereals and other starchy foods
20% of calories
Vegetables and fruit
30% of calories
Fatty foods (fatty meats, butter, oil)
20% of calories
Sweets
10% of calories
1930s Planning for Good Nutrition and other buying guides 12
Milk
2 c
Lean meat, poultry, and fish
9–10/wk
Dry beans, peas, and nuts
1/wk
Eggs
1
Flours, cereals
As desired
Leafy, green, yellow
11–12/wk
Potatoes and sweet potatoes
1
Other vegetables and fruit
3
Tomatoes and citrus
1
Butter
not specified
Other fats
not specified
Sweets
not specified
1943 Basic 7 foundation diet 7
Milk and milk products
2c or more
Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dried beans, peas, nuts
1–2
Bread, cereal
every day
Leafy, green, yellow
1 or more
Potatoes & other fruit & vegetables
2 or more
Citrus, tomato, cabbage, salad greens
1 or more
Butter or fortified margarine
some daily
1956 Basic Four foundation diet 4
Milk group
2 c or more
Meat group
2 or more
Bread-cereal group
4
Vegetable-fruit group
4
1979 Hassle-Free Guide to a Better Diet 5
Milk-cheese group
2
Meat, poultry, fish and beans group
2
Bread-cereal group
4
Vegetable-fruit group
4
Fats, sweets, alcohol group
use dependent on calorie needs
1992 Food Pyramid 6
Milk, yogurt, cheese
2–3
Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dry beans, nuts
2–3
Breads, cereals, rice, pasta
6–11
Vegetables
3–5
Fruit
2–4
Fats, oils, sweets
Fat not to exceed 30% of calories; sweets dependent on calorie needs
2010 Healthy Plate 6
Dairy
(amount varies)
Protein foods
(meat, poultry, eggs, beans and peas, processed soy products, nuts and seeds, seafood)
(amount varies)
Grains
(amount varies)
Vegetables
(half of plate should be fruits and vegetables)
Fruit
(half of plate should be fruits and vegetables)
Oils
(“Oils are NOT a food group, but they provide essential nutrients”)

Chart adapted from Carole Davis and Etta Saltos, “Dietary Recommendations and How They Have Changed Over Time,” in Elizabeth Frazao, America’s Eating Habits: Changes and Consequences (Agriculture Information Bulletin No. (AIB-750), May 1999) and based on additional information in various food guides listed in the notes.