While I know dairy isn’t good for my children due to their allergy to it, I speculated it wasn’t great for those of us who are not allergic to it either--isn’t it meant for calves? After my second grade son came home from school last week asking about his “food pyramid” lesson with respect to the importance of dairy, we laughed as its silliness and turned it into a game of, “Why do people eat cow’s milk? We don’t eat horse’s milk, or kangaroo’s milk, or giraffe’s milk…” It was fun.
After our conversation, I recalled that the USDA was originally involved in the creation of the food pyramid. Now, decades later, the USDA is still involved in promoting dairy, even though they fully admit it causes health problems such as obesity. This weekend The New York Times came out with an article that discusses the government’s findings that dairy causes obesity due to the high saturated fat content. But the hypocrisy is in the fact that another branch of the government is spending millions promoting supposed health benefits of dairy to unsuspecting Americans and even those over seas.
Specifically, there is a branch in the government that collects money from farmers and also uses tax payers' money to promote dairy. This Dairy Management Agency spends roughly $140 million each year managing dairy. For instance, they recently entered into a contract with Dominos to promote cheese and spent $12 million in doing so. Even overseas isn’t safe from the promotion--$5.3 million was spent on that marketplace.
The promotion and advertising is working. "'These efforts,' the department reported, 'helped generate a cheese sales growth of nearly 30 million pounds." Dairy consumption is way up, "Americans now eat an average of 33 pounds of cheese a year, nearly triple the 1970 rate."
But those marketing jingles (Got Milk?) and claims (weight loss and improved health) aren’t in our best interest. “Having dismissed the weight-loss claim in 2005, the federal nutrition advisory committee this summer again found the underlying science “not convincing.” The campaign lasted until 2007, when the Federal Trade Commission acted on a two-year-old petition by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, an advocacy group that challenged the campaign’s claims. “If you want to look at why people are fat today, it’s pretty hard to identify a contributor more significant than this meteoric rise in cheese consumption,” Dr. Neal D. Barnard, president of the physicians’ group, said in an interview.”
I can't help but wonder if our health insurance costs are so high due to our enormous consumption of dairy and the probable trickle down diseases it causes.
The above quotes were taken from: "While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales," by Micheal Moss, The New York Times, November 6, 2010 < http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/07/us/07fat.html?_r=3&pagewanted=all>