Got Hypocrisy?

The U.S. government spends millions of dollars studying how Americans’ crummy diets are making us all unhealthy and funding programs to try to get us all to straighten up and fly right.  So you’d think when we finally show some improvement– say, by cutting way back on our consumption of full-fat dairy products– the government would be thrilled, right?  Wrong.

I guess I really shouldn’t be all that surprised.  After all, this is the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  These are the people that brought us corn subsidies.  It’s old news by now that corn subsidies are a disaster from a public health standpoint because they make the unhealthiest foods also the cheapest foods to buy.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read something by Michael Pollan or put Food, Inc. on your Netflix list.  I hate to say it, but it would appear that all those crazies who think the government is trying to kill them really may be on to something.

Apparently we’ve been cutting back on full-fat dairy products, and this is unacceptable.  So the USDA figured out a way to put more cheese on a Domino’s pizza and then helped Domino’s market their pizza to us.   Here’s the New York Times article.  Read it and know that the department of the executive branch of government that oversees the food supply really doesn’t give a shit about your health.  And it is very happy to spend millions of dollars counteracting the millions of dollars spent by, say, the Department of Health and Human Services, which really wants you to cut back on your saturated fat.  Is it really any wonder that the government is flat broke?

Some quotes from the article:

Domino’s Pizza was hurting early last year. Domestic sales had fallen, and a survey of big pizza chain customers left the company tied for the worst tasting pies.

Then help arrived from an organization called Dairy Management. It teamed up with Domino’s to develop a new line of pizzas with 40 percent more cheese, and proceeded to devise and pay for a $12 million marketing campaign.

…one slice contains as much as two-thirds of a day’s maximum recommended amount of saturated fat, which has been linked to heart disease and is high in calories.

And Dairy Management, which has made cheese its cause, is not a private business consultant. It is a marketing creation of the United States Department of Agriculture — the same agency at the center of a federal anti-obesity drive that discourages over-consumption of some of the very foods Dairy Management is vigorously promoting.

Urged on by government warnings about saturated fat, Americans have been moving toward low-fat milk for decades, leaving a surplus of whole milk and milk fat. Yet the government, through Dairy Management, is engaged in an effort to find ways to get dairy back into Americans’ diets, primarily through cheese.

The organization’s activities, revealed through interviews and records, provide a stark example of inherent conflicts in the Agriculture Department’s historical roles as both marketer of agriculture products and America’s nutrition police.

Dr. Walter C. Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health and a former member of the federal government’s nutrition advisory committee, said: “The U.S.D.A. should not be involved in these programs that are promoting foods that we are consuming too much of already. A small amount of good-flavored cheese can be compatible with a healthy diet, but consumption in the U.S. is enormous and way beyond what is optimally healthy.”

In 1995, the government created Dairy Management Inc., a nonprofit corporation that has defined its mission as increasing dairy consumption by “offering the products consumers want, where and when they want them.”

Agriculture Department data show that cheese is a major reason the average American diet contains too much saturated fat.

The department’s nutrition committee issued a new standard this summer calling for saturated fat not to exceed 7 percent of total calories, about 15.6 grams in a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet. Yet the average intake has remained about 11 percent to 12 percent of total calories for at least 15 years.

The department issued nutritional hints in a brochure titled “Steps To A Healthier You!” It instructs pizza lovers: “Ask for whole wheat crust and half the cheese” — even as Dairy Management has worked with pizza chains like Domino’s to increase cheese.

Dairy Management runs the largest of 18 Agriculture Department programs that market beef, pork, potatoes and other commodities. Their budgets are largely paid by levies imposed on farmers, but Dairy Management, which reported expenditures of $136 million last year, also received $5.3 million that year from the Agriculture Department to promote dairy sales overseas.

By comparison, the department’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, which promotes healthy diets, has a total budget of $6.5 million.

Dairy Management’s longtime chief executive, Thomas P. Gallagher, received $633,475 in compensation in 2008, with first-class travel privileges, according to federal tax filings. Annual compensation for two other officials top $300,000 each.

According to contract records released through the Freedom of Information Act, Dairy Management’s role in helping to develop Domino’s pizzas included generating and testing new pizza concepts.

So basically, the USDA is out there pimping the very same substance the USDA itself is telling us to cut back on, and they’re doing it through Dominos Pizza, exactly the type of fast food place we keep hearing we should be avoiding.  If you read the whole article, you’ll also see that Dairy Management is marketing cheese to us through Taco Bell, Burger King, and Pizza Hut.

So the inescapable conclusion is this:  The USDA is completely FUBAR, it doesn’t actually want us to eat healthier, and it wastes millions of dollars cancelling out the activities of one of its branches with the activities of another.

Got milk?

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2 Responses to “Got Hypocrisy?”

  1. ThePowerofMyth Says:

    Oh man I swear that this whole “obesity epidemic” and health scare is just another way for everyone involved to make money. Seriously what logic does the above make absolutely none except it makes their money pocket bigger!

    Great post! and great find!

  2. Won’t Somebody Think of the Potatoes? « The Fat Chick Diaries Says:

    […] they actually help dairy farmers sell more full-fat dairy products by hiring marketing experts to design and advertise even-more-cheese-laden fast food items to sell us.  And of course, these are the people that brought you corn subsidies.  This time, […]

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