It ain’t easy being cheesy

“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.”

While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales (

In typical bureaucratic style it seems one hand of the U.S. government is unaware of what the other hand is doing. Or at least funding.

According to the article in the New York Times plenty of time and money has gone into promoting the inclusion of cheese in America’s diet, despite the amount of time and money that has also gone into promoting healthier diet choices to combat the dangerous rate of obesity in the country. While one side of the Agriculture Department has been out fighting for less consumption of saturated fats and other diet no-nos, money has been pouring into an organization called Dairy Management through the same department.

“Every day, the nation’s cows produce an average of about 60 million gallons of raw milk, yet less than a third goes toward making milk that people drink. And the majority of that milk has fat removed to make the low-fat or nonfat milk that Americans prefer. A vast amount of leftover whole milk and extracted milk fat results.”

Of course, part of this split most likely comes from the government’s decision around the time of the depression to aid and support farmers in such things as dairy and corn production. Soon after the economy bounced back the government found itself with a large surplus of these products. So, they started turning up in our food and plenty of other places. It was not necessarily the healthiest thing to have these surpluses dumped into our food chain, but something had to be done with all of it.

Thus, we find organizations like Dairy Management helping companies like Domino’s come up with 101 ways to put more cheese in their products. Sadly, the results are working all too well. Probably better than the push by the other side to limit the intake of such things. It doesn’t help that they are also putting money into research that suggests a health benefit to eating cheese and milk.

“Meanwhile, Dairy Management, which allotted $12.4 million for nutrition research in 2008, has moved on to finance studies on promising opportunities, including the promotion of chocolate milk as a sports recovery drink and the use of cheese to entice children into eating healthy foods like string beans.”

In the world of advertising one simple study can lead to a whole campaign, whether or not that study ends up false years down the road. Sure, Dairy Management is not the only organization to use this technique, but doesn’t it seem counter-productive for one part of a department to fund research that is refuting the research funded by another part?

However, given that we’re talking about the American government here, maybe none of this should surprise me?

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