Are Donuts the Next Fruit?November 20th, 2011 by MorganDowney Leave a reply »
No doubt by now you have heard that House Republicans attached a provision to the government funding bill to un-do a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulation calling for more nutritious school lunches, paid for by the USDA. The politics of pizza (and ketchup, too) – Charleston Charleston Democrat | Examiner.com
There is more than enough shock and outrage to go around following this decision. See the clip from NBC News’ Brian Williams below.
The predictable story line is that special interest groups, in this case the pizza/French fries industry has overcome the USDA and the Obama Administration by campaign donations and lobbying. Fair enough but only part of the story.
The facts are that Congress has established, and USDA continues to support, agricultural commodity groups whose sole purpose is to increase consumption of their product, usually by creating ‘partnerships’ with fast food industry. These groups are funded by ‘assessments’ imposed on almost all producers and enforced as federal taxes. The money is given to private industry groups with little to no accountability to the public or even within the government. And while we can all smirk that Congress declaring pizza a vegetable, millions of dollars are spent by such groups. For example, the National Dairy Council (NDC) (the people who brought you the milk moustache ads) promote the use of cheese on pizzas. According to NDC, 25% of all cheese manufactured in the U.S. is used on pizza. Their 2010 report to Congress states, “Research showed that negative pizza cheese volume trends were having an impact on the dairy industry. As a result, dairy producers partnered with Domino’s to reinvigorate the pizza category and launch American Legends, a line of six specialty pizzas that use up to 40% more cheese than a regular Domino’s pizza.” Agricultural Marketing Service – Report to Congress at page 8.
The U.S. Potato Board promotes potato chips. To see the work of their “Chip Committee,” follow this link:United States Potato Board – Chip-Stock
While the nutrition folks at USDA sincerely want to use their resources to improve public health, the ‘other’ hand at USDA is doing everything it can to promote more and more human consumption of their commodity. Why, at this point in the obesity epidemic, do we have any governmental program ( even if not funded by taxpayers but using the federal government’s coercive power to collect funds from producers) to encourage people to eat more, not only in the United States but internationally?