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Food Fight: Challenging the USDA Food Pyramid,

by Susan K. Henderson and David E. Henderson

The USDA wants you to eat less fat

Food Fight is set during a 1991 Congressional hearing that evaluated the USDA’s development of the Food Pyramid, a document that angered various agribusiness groups and some nutrition experts. This Open Access Reacting Game can be used in food and nutrition general education science courses and introductory chemistry and biology courses. Food Fight has also been used in courses that explore graphic representations of data and in public policy courses because it deals with conflicts of interest in government policy and the role of lobbyists and the press in those debates.



Cultural and Social History; Economics and Economic History; History of Medicine and Health; History of Science and Technology; Political Science and Government; Psychology; STEM


20th Century; Contemporary Era

In a Few Words

What to eat

North America

Player Interactions 

Factional, Competitive, Collaborative, Coalition-Building

Sample Class Titles
Science for Non-Majors; FY Seminar

Level 5 Published OER game (what's that mean?)

Notable Roles

Edward Madigan, Louis W. Sullivan, John Vanderveen

Secret Voting, Rolling Dice, Differentiated Voting

Chaos and Demand on Instructor 
This game is minimally chaotic and minimally demanding on the instructor.

Primary Source Highlights 
McGinnis and Nestle "Surgeon General's Report.." Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 1989 and Welsh et al., Development of Food Pyramid..." Nutrition Today 1992

Using the Game

Class Size and Scalability 
This game is recommended for classes with 11-35 students.

Class Time  
For this game, 1 to 2 setup sessions and 2 to 3 game sessions are recommended. Larger classes may require more game sessions.

Possible Reacting Game Pairings
This game can be used on its own, or with other games. These pairings are meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive or prescriptive. Food Fight may pair well with:

You can adjust the assignments based on the desired learning outcomes of your class. This game can include traditional paper/research/thesis-driven writing, science writing, and journalism. Not all roles are required to give formal speeches.


Confirmed instructors who are not yet members can access basic instructor materials. Reacting Consortium members can access all downloadable materials (including expanded and updated materials) below. You will be asked to sign in before downloading.


Students need a Gamebook, which includes directions, resources, and historical content.

A paperback version is available through UNC Press. You can also buy and download the digital version straight from the Reacting Consortium website for $10.

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6174-2

Role Sheets and Name Tents

Students also need a Role Sheet, which contains biographical information, role-specific resources or assignments, and their character's secret victory objectives. 

.zip file of .pdf files.

VERSIONS 4.6 and 4.6a. .zip file of .docx files.

Instructor's Manual

The Instructor's Manual includes guidance for assigning roles, presenting historical context, assignments, activities and discussion topics, and more.  

VERSION 4.7c. .docx file.
,zip folder of .docx files.

Additional Resources 

Resources for Introduction and/or Debrief


Susan K. Henderson

Susan K. Henderson is Professor Emeritus at Quinnipiac University. She is author of several Reacting game modules on science and public policy.

David E. Henderson


Members can contact game authors directly

We invite instructors join our Facebook Faculty Lounge, where you'll find a wonderful community eager to help and answer questions. We also encourage you to submit your question for the forthcoming FAQ, and to check out our upcoming events


Diet and Killer Disease
Diet and the Killer Diseases: McGovern Committee Hearings, 1976

Congressional AIDS Hearings
After a Long Battle: Congressional Response to the AIDS Epidemic, 1982-1985

Food or Famine
Food or Famine, 2002: The Debate over Genetically Modified Crops in Southern Africa


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