The USDA, cheese, and the fattening of America

Ever wonder whose idea it was to stuff cheese into the crust of a pizza?  How about three different cheeses plus cheese sauce on a taco?  Or, who thought that it would be great to fill a burger with cheese (topped with cheese of course)?  If you said Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Wendy's, you're wrong.

The brains behind the push to stuff, slather, and douse just about everything with cheese is an organization called Dairy Management. And while the actions of Dairy Management aren't unusual (partnering with businesses, marketing campaigns, etc.) the fact that it is a creation of our own USDA is.

Yup, the same USDA that urges us to switch to low-fat options, to cut calories, and to fight obesity is also taking all that leftover fat, calories, and obesity and shoving it right back down our throats.  And they've been rather successful too.  Since the 1970's, American's consumption of cheese has more than tripled to 33 pounds a year.

Dairy Management was also behind the recent campaign urging people to "milk" their diet in order to lose weight.  The campaign was based on the findings of a University of Tennessee researcher whose results could never be substantiated.  The bogus ads continued in spite of contrary findings in studies sponsored by Dairy Management itself.  Two years of complaints by The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine finally deep-sixed the campaign with the FTC finding that the research did not support the claim.

Dairy Managements doesn't just work with restaurants, they also have partnered with supermarkets to redesign way we buy cheese.  Their focus is on "cheese snacking fanatics", families whose consumption of cheese overrides their concerns about health.  Which is great idea if you think that the health care costs associated with obesity (currently topping 147 billion dollars a year) are no big deal and that a little more cheese never hurt anybody (recent figures put the obesity rate at 42% by 2050.)  

The fact that the USDA is actively pursuing an agenda such as this is appalling but not surprising.  Today, especially, I am reminded that Abraham Lincoln's words (from the Gettysburg Address) that government be "... of the people, by the people, for the people," sound especially cheesy.
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About Unknown

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
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  1. Tony,

    This post kind of reminds me of the documentary film "Food, Inc." If you haven't seen that yet, I encourage you to watch it. It's very interesting. I think it's on Netflix Watch Instantly if you have an account with them.


  2. First off, I checked out your blog and I think that stating your intention to be happy, to get fit, and to make it semi-public is great. I think of my blog as an online journal and whether or not people read it is inconsequential as it helps me immensely.

    Second, I definitely saw Food Inc; great movie! Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (Omnivore's Dilemma) are shedding light on a system that thrives in darkness.

    Learning about our industrialized food system doesn't mean that we have to stop eating, rather it informs our decision making process so that we are no longer on auto-pilot. If I really want to eat a taco from taco bell, I'll do it, but if I'm just feeling lazy, is it worth it? Probably not.