Photo courtesy of New York Times

Like cheese? Then you might appreciate an article that appeared in the New York Times this weekend about an organization called the Dairy Management and how it has helped various food chains such as Dominos, Wendy’s and Taco Bell boost their sales by pushing cheese.

While campaigns like Pizza Hut’s 2002 “Summer of Cheese” have been great for the food companies and chains, the extra calories and saturated fat cheese contributes can be not-so-healthy for consumers. It’s estimated that American consumption of cheese has tripled since the 1970s, despite various campaigns to make known the health issues associated with high fat intake. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to at least acknowledge a possible association with the sharp increase in obesity rates over the same time period.

It actually made me really happy to see the Times run something like this and point out how absurd it is that an organization that’s essentially “a marketing creation” of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) —the same  federal agency promoting anti-obesity agendas—is pushing a product Americans have been advised to avoid over-consumption of.

I thought the author did a great job summing it up: “The organization’s activities, revealed through interviews and records, provide a stark example of inherent conflicts in the Agriculture Department’s historical roles as both marketer of agriculture products and America’s nutrition police.”

No kidding. This article is really worth reading, as it highlights some of the policies and practices that contribute to and perpetuate the discord as well as the powerful effects of aggressive food marketing. It’s pretty scary, in my opinion.

Yes, cheese, when enjoyed in small amounts in the context of a balanced diet can be a great source of calcium and protein—not to mention flavor—but when pumped into every crevice and dumped on top of practically any kind of dish you can imagine, it can actually have harmful effects that offset any benefit you might get otherwise.

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