From the introduction:
This game is set in a 1991 hearing by the House Sub-Committee on Government Organization that examined the decisions by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) surrounding the Food Pyramid. The USDA had developed the material, made it public, then withdraw it under political pressure for additional study, and finally released essentially the same material a year later. Congress wants to know if the USDA has developed a scientifically valid recommendation on diet and to what extent political considerations were involved in the process.
There are two important intellectual ideas in this game, one scientific and one political. The scientific issue is encapsulated in the “eat more – eat less” controversy that is at the heart of the food pyramid debate. The game occurs during a period when the role of diet in health was being transformed by new research. The USDA, which had historically dealt primarily with malnutrition, was suddenly faced with evidence that certain foods could either cause or prevent serious illness. What should be the role of fat in the diet? Should we eat less fat, more fat? Or only certain kinds of fat? How much meat is needed for optimal health? Do adults need to drink milk? Should people eat more fresh vegetables and fruits?
The second issue has to do with the regulatory structure of the US government and whether a single agency can serve multiple, conflicting roles. In this case, the USDA has three different, roles. It is charged with promotion of all agriculture in the United States with particular emphasis on the meat and dairy industries. It also regulates most meat and most dairy products to insure safety. Finally, it is charged with educating the public about how much of these food should be eaten for good health. This creates a conflict when research suggests people should eat less of the foods that the USDA is charged with promoting.
Because the regulatory issues in the game are still very much in play today, this aspect of the game is directly relevant to public policy. Different aspects of food safety are covered by a number of different Federal agencies. An example of this fragmentation is that frozen cheese pizza is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration while frozen pepperoni pizza by the USDA.