Simply put, yes. Through subsidizing crops that get turned into high calorie processed foods, and marketing commodities like beef, cheese, and pork, the government is at the very least contributing to the obesity epidemic. What’s their latest gig? Marketing cheese in the fast food industry.
When Domino’s Pizza sales were recently plummeting, an organization called Dairy Management came to their rescue by helping them create a pizza with 40% more cheese, and then creating and paying for a $12 million marketing campaign to market this new pizza. What makes this so scandalous is that Dairy Management receives direct funding from the USDA and from a government-mandated fee on the dairy industry. So the same agency who encourages Americans to limit saturated fat and switch to skim milk is also actively marketing saturated fat and milk fat to us. And this Domino’s campaign is just one example. Among the others:
- The Dairy Board helped Wendy’s create and market the Wild Mountain Chicken Sandwich and the Wild Mountain Bacon Cheeseburger, both of which included Colby jack cheese and a cheesy Southwestern sauce (2004).
- Dairy Board collaborated with Pizza Hut to promote a 3-cheese stuffed crust pizza, one slice of which contains 35% of the daily limit of saturated fat and 40% of the daily limit for sodium. The Dairy Board then featured this pizza on the front page of it’s website: www.ilovecheese.com.
- Dairy Board created the motto “Ahh, the power of cheese,” in an effort to target “cheese lovers” with an emphasis on “cheese enhancers” (people who cook with cheese) and “cheese cravers” (people who eat cheese on it’s own).
And there are plenty of other examples of how the government actively markets commodities through it’s check-off programs (Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner. Pork: The Other White Meat. Got Milk? — to name just a few), regardless of the nutritional value of these products.
For more information and a fascinating read on how Dairy Management is currently working so hard to market full-fat cheese to Americans, read Michael Moss’s New York Times article here.
If this outrages you like it outrages me (because keep in mind, the USDA gets their marketing money from OUR TAX DOLLARS via the Farm Bill), take action and write to your congressperson. I’ll write a standardized letter and post it this week so that you can just copy and paste it into an email.
For more valuable information on checkoff programs, visit one of my favorite blogs: U.S. Food Policy.
*image above taken from While Warning Us About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales*