Check out this cool new take on the food pyramid!

Here’s a quick look at what it tells us.

A new food pyramid model proposed by the Barilla Group, the Italian multinational food company, is two pyramids in one—one for our health, one for the climate.

The Health Pyramid arranges food into 18 groups and 7 layers. For good health, foods we should eat the most are on the bottom. Foods we should eat the least are on top.

The Climate Pyramid shows us the impact of our food choices in terms of carbon footprint. Animal products make the most significant contribution to climate change. Plant products have a lower environmental impact. 

But wait a second … 

This is great for those of us in the United States. But what about all the millions of people in the world with different cultures?

The Barilla Foundation adapted the double pyramid for seven different food cultures. The goal is to promote awareness of healthy and sustainable diets in different geographic regions. Check out the recipes of the diverse cultures represented with this new model:

Are there flaws in this double pyramid system?

Yes, potentially there are. Not all foods produced on the “good” end are sustainable, and not all those on the “bad” end are not. This is simply a tool to help illustrate the connection between food, diet, and carbon footprint. As we learn more, the double pyramid model can change. It is a fluid tool for our times.

Bottom Line—give up nothing, change everything.

By adopting a varied and balanced diet, we can promote our own health while reducing our contribution to climate change. All foods can be part of a healthy and sustainable diet! Win-win, I’d say!

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Ken Davis

Ken Davis is the Co-op's senior copywriter. Email him at