If the Tea Party folks are looking for something to chew on…

by Karen Topakian

I’ve got an issue for them. Cheese subsidies.

Sunday’s New York Times reported that, Dairy Management, a mostly government (US Department of Agriculture) funded and supported non-profit with a $140 million dollar budget, spends its time supporting the marketing of dairy products. In this case, cheese.

Why, you ask? To increase dairy consumption. Because (drum roll) the dairy industry increased productivity through artificial insemination, hormones and lighting that keeps cows more active while we were actually consuming more low-fat and nonfat milk products, creating a problem of leftover whole milk. So says the NYT.

Dairy Management, the very people behind the catchy and much copied Got Milk campaign, can take the blame or receive the credit for infusing the mega-pizza business with more cheese. Pizza Hut. Burger King. Taco Bell. Domino’s Pizza. All benefited from Dairy Management’s efforts to increase the amount of cheese in their products.

Cheese in the crust. Extra cheese on top. Cheesy bites. Cheesy Angus Bacon Cheeseburgers. Cheese in the cardboard box!

This promotional campaign contributed to extra pounds and increased cholesterol for everyone that consumed these products. Pounds that we, as a nation, can’t afford to gain. According to the their reports to Congress, cheese sales growth of nearly 30 million pounds!

Cheese surely plays a role in the diet and nutrition plan of all but vegans and the lactose intolerant. But we are now eating more than ever before. According to the NYT story, “Americans now eat an average of 33 pounds of cheese a year, nearly triple the 1970 rate. Cheese has become the largest source of saturated fat…”

I know I don’t need to point out the obvious, that First Lady Michelle Obama works hand in hand with the USDA to promote low-fat food, healthier eating and more exercise while the same USDA pushes high fat dairy onto our plates.

{I know I don’t have to point out the simple solution: Reduce milk production so we won’t need Dairy Management’s efforts to push the extra cheese down our throats.}

Back to the Tea Party.

Doesn’t this sound like an excellent rallying cry for the Tea Party/small government/lower taxes/get the government off my back people? Subsidies. Government giveaways. Pork.

Speaking of pork.  The Agriculture Department runs other programs that promote commodities such as beef, pork and potatoes…

If the Tea Party mission of cutting government spending truly resides in the belief that government does too much and our taxes are too high. Then how about putting their money where their mouth is and calling for the dissolution of these government sponsored food councils?

Seriously, the next time you talk with or meet a Tea Party advocate, which might just happen around the holiday table, ask them about these government programs. And whether these might be the ones they are willing to cut.


  1. Linda Cameron says:

    As Uncle Mark would say, “cheese is a 3rd rate protein”–not worth eating.

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