Vegetables on top of Flanders’ reconfigured food pyramid


The Flemish Institute for Healthy Living has turned the food pyramid upside-down, with the base at the top featuring fruit, veggies and other plant-based products

Bottom-down approach

The Flemish Institute for Healthy Living has developed a new food pyramid, which it has turned upside down, emphasising the value of vegetable and other unprocessed foods.

On top of the inverted pyramid is the guideline to drink plenty of water. Under this, the pyramid contains foods of plant origin, including vegetables, fruit, rice, bread and nuts. “These should form the basis of our meals,” said the institute in a statement, “with the addition of smaller amounts of food of animal origin, like fish, dairy products or meat.”

Dairy, eggs, fish and chicken come lower on the pyramid, while the smallest section contains butter and red meat. The institute also recommends considering alternatives to meat such as soy-based products or legumes, which it includes with vegetables at the top of the pyramid.

The smallest section of the previous version of the institute’s pyramid contained foods that are not nutritionally sound such as sweets and soft drinks. These are now placed in a separate circle next to the pyramid with the warning “as little as possible”. The circle also contains processed meats, salt, fried foods and alcohol.

“We want to make it clear that we don’t need these products,” Loes Neven of the institute told VRT. “We don’t forbid them, but they should be rather an exception than rule.” According to the institute, average consumption of these foods is currently much too high.

The institute has added a second pyramid for physical activity. Among its recommendations are getting up from your seat every half an hour and taking part in exercise at least once a week that increases your heart rate, such as aerobics or jogging.
Photo: Ingimage

Flemish agriculture and horticulture

Flanders is an important global food exporter. The main agricultural activities differ from region to region – with pig, cow, vegetable and dairy-farming the most important. In recent years, the sector has been heavily affected by the economic downturn and falling global food prices.
Green - Organic farming accounts for just a fraction of Flemish agriculture, but the sector has slowly been growing in recent years.
Greenhouse - Flanders has been a trailblazer in mapping the carbon footprint of agriculture.
Forgotten - Flemish horticulture’s “Bel’Orta” label aims to promote lesser-known vegetables like parsnip, parsley root and kohlrabi.

percent of Belgium’s fruit harvest comes from Flanders

25 982

agriculture businesses in Flanders in 2011

51 530

people employed in Flemish agriculture and horticulture in 2011