Monday, September 19, 2016

Five Ways You Are Subsidizing Big Meat Without Knowing It

Many people think of the USDA as a kind of FDA for farm products—dedicated to protecting the public’s health against sloppy or even sleazy practices. But actually the USDA, created when America was agrarian, primarily serves rural America and food producers not consumers. Its mission is “helping rural America to thrive; to promote agriculture production that better nourishes Americans while also helping feed others throughout the world; and to preserve our Nation’s natural resources through conservation, restored forests, improved watersheds, and healthy private working lands.” Key word private. More than one hundred and twelve of the USDA’s yearly budget of $139.7 billion goes to Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly “food stamps”) which “support American agriculture by providing an outlet for surplus products and encouraging consumption of domestically-produced foods” at schools, food banks and needy households, stabilizing prices. But more than $20 billion of the yearly USDA budget unashamedly serves private food producers with Federal Crop Insurance, animal and crop research, wildlife services/predator elimination and even aggressive food product marketing, sometimes in conjunction with unhealthy fast food operations. Here are some of the ways you are involuntarily supporting Big Meat.  1. Pushing More Cheese The USDA and its food pyramids may caution people about eating too many high-fat foods that contribute to obesity but that did not stop it from helping Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Burger King, Wendy’s and Domino’s to conspire to sell more high-fat foods that contribute to obesity. In fact, the USDA created an entity called Dairy Management, with 162 employees to help fast food giants “cheesify” their menus says the New York Times. “If every pizza included one more ounce of cheese, we would sell an additional 250 million pounds of cheese annually,” rhapsodized the Dairy Management chief executive in a trade publication. Dairy Management, while mostly funded by farmers, received $5.3 million of our tax dollars from the USDA during one year observes the Times—almost equal to the whole $6.5 million budget of USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion which tells the public to avoid fatty foods… like cheese....more

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