Getting Milked Out of Money and Health?
Got Milk? Of course you do ... if you're a typical American. National Public Radio reports that the average American consumes 630 pounds of dairy a year according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics. In fact, the same statistics tell us that in total food consumption, Americans are eating 1,996 pounds of food each year, which means that over one third of our intake by weight comes from dairy products. It works out to over 1.7 pounds of milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, and yogurt per person each day. That's hard to swallow!
How Milk Became a Mulitmillion Dollar Industry
Considering the many responsibilities of a farm wife from yesteryear, even those of us whose grandparents were dairy farmers have trouble imagining a scenario where grandma had time to milk, churn, or culture that much dairy daily in order to feed her large family. So how did we, as a country, get here? The following video explains the history of milk in the United States. Interestingly enough, after showing the history of American milk consumption, the money and power influences behind the marketing of milk, and exposing some of the erroneous beliefs about the benefits of dairy, the video's narrator states, "Milk and other dairy products can be part of a healthy diet." Watch for this contradiction at the 3:52 mark — and don't believe it.
Marketing Milk to a New Generation
For the past twenty years, we've watched as parade of celebrities line up with milk mustaches to market milk to us. Apparently, we're not as impressed as we used to be. After all, more and more of us are learning that milk does NOT "do a body good." Rates of osteoporosis are highest in the countries with the highest dairy consumption and lowest in the countries where dairy consumption is lowest. And multiple research studies link dairy products with heart disease, diabetes, and increased rates of cancer. So what's a milk marketer to do if they want our millions of dollars? It's time for a new campaign.
"Milk Life" is the tag line for the new advertising campaign which seeks to position milk as the needed source of protein and energy to fuel an active day. According to Garth Davis, MD, author of Proteinaholic, many Americans are already consuming twice the RDA's inflated recommendations for daily protein. Yet because the American public is mistakenly convinced that it needs more protein, milk marketers will be exploiting that erroneous belief in order to boost declining sales.
The Federal Government Follows Suit
Not to fear, the federal government is poised to do their part to improve milk sales by making sure that Americans form the dairy habit early. The School Milk Nutrition Act of 2015 was introduced to the House with the stated purpose of getting children to consume more milk and dairy products in accordance with the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans published by the federal government. Writing for TheHill.com, the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine counters the bill's assertions by telling the truth about the detrimental effects of dairy on children's health.
In January, 2016, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NFPF) trumpeted their approval of the Senate Agriculture Committee's passage of new bipartisan legislation to reauthorize child nutrition programs. Along with promoting incorrect beliefs about the value of milk for children's health, the press release stated that the legislation included "provisions that would help reverse the decline of milk consumption in schools ... IDFA and NMPF support the nutrition bill because almost all age groups consume less dairy than recommended by the newly-released 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), and this legislation offers the opportunity to improve dairy intake among the nation’s youth." Apparently our tax dollars are hard at work to ensure that Americans remain confused and bamboozled into consuming more disease-promoting dairy.
Knowledge is Power
The good news in all of this is that information is powerful. As we learn the history of how Americans became heavy consumers of dairy products, as we learn how marketers are manipulating us, as we discover how the federal government and industry team up to promote economic interests, we can fight back against the influences pushing their way into our lives. Education on the dangers of dairy coupled with information on the power of whole plant foods to deter disease will allow us to choose health despite the tide of cultural trends.
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