I wanted to mention in passing, since I was under the weather and unable to comment fully when it was released, that the USDA’s new Food Pyramid is the worst graphic design I’ve seen since the Kerry/Edwards campaign signs.

As wildly off-base as it may have been nutritionally, the old pyramid at least had the virtue of being, well, you know, a pyramid. That is to say that the graphical function of a pyramid is to represent greater amounts at the bottom and lesser amounts as it narrows toward the top. In other words, it makes sense because it replicates the real life shape of a pyramid’s design.

The new “pyramid” (more accurately described as a triangle) turns this notion on its head and slices things vertically which of course makes no sense whatsoever. They’ve also added a unisex silhouette climbing stairs on one side of this period to emphasize the nutritionally-unrelated fact that exercise is good for you. I’m surprised that they couldn’t work in a cigarette with a slash through it to indicate that smoking is bad.

This graphical catastrophe is accompanied by a semi-functioning, almost wholly useless web site called MyPyramid.gov. Here you’ll find little nuggets of wisdom like the current Tip of the Week: “Do it for you. Make one small change each day for a healthier you.” Also, you’ll discover that the USDA has created not one but 12 different vertically sliced triangles from which to choose. If you (or indeed anyone) is able to make heads or tails out of this stuff, congratulations, because I’m not sure it could be made much more difficult.