Upcoming events

  • No upcoming events

Follow Us

Log in

Food Fight: Challenging the USDA Food Pyramid, 1991 Demo

Simplified Food Fight Game for Conference Play

Written by Andrew Goss Based on the game by Susan K. Henderson and David E. Henderson

The USDA wants you to eat less fat

This is an abbreviated, edited, and altered version of Food Fight: Challenging the USDA Food Pyramid, 1991 intended for use as a demo of Reacting to the Past pedagogy for faculty. It is meant to be used in a 45–90-minute session, where participants will spend an hour or so in gameplay. It is suitable for10-40 players.

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 10-40 students.

Class Time  
For this game, 75-90 minutes are recommended. The game can be played in 45-60 minutes with 30 minutes set aside after for reflection and discussion after the game is completed.

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:


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.

Instructor's Manual

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


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


Andrew Goss

Andrew Goss’ research examines the scientific and technological interactions that have contributed to creating the modern world, in particular in the context of empires and colonialism. His teaching interest extends to the political and cultural history of Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. He is a leading expert on the history of science in Indonesia, and has published about the history of science, empire, and medicine.


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


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software