Do as they say, not as they…say?

I know that goverment likes to talk out of both sides of its mouth, but a tidbit I read last week in the New York Times just really takes the cake. The cheesecake, that is.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard the official pleas to eat less saturated fat. It’s destroying our hearts, it’s killing us, stop, stop, please stop. (I personally think that not all sources of saturated fat are considered equal, but I’ll stick with the government line for the purposes of this discussion.)

Well, while we’re being told to put down the sat fat in one ear, we’re being told to eat more cheese in the other!

It turns out that while the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is fighting obesity with one fist, it’s shoving cheese into our mouths with the other. They’re working hard, via their marketing arm (called Dairy Management) to help national pizza and fast food chains cram more cheese into their products and thus down our gullets.

This is why I don’t put a lot of faith in the USDA’s food guide pyramid. The USDA’s interests, from all appearances, lie more with big food manufacturers and less with the health of the the people.

I read about this cheesy hypocrisy more than a week ago, and meant to comment on it then, but failed to (clearly). I don’t know why, because it really, really irritated me, and don’t we tend to be pretty free with our opinions when we are irritated? Yeah, usually.

I think if the government is going to help a national pizza chain develop pizzas with 40 percent more cheese, it should also put warning labels on them: “Your gut, now with 40% more cheese.” Or, for the ladies: “Your butt, now with 40% more cheese.” Have you see the proposed warning labels for cigarettes? Imagine what the government could do with “this is what you will look like if you eat this new extra-mega-cheesy pizza” warning labels. I’m thinking photos of clogged arteries and painfully tight waistbands, to start. Trust me, photos of clogged arteries are gross (it’s hard to try to read my anatomy textbook while eating lunch).

Not that I’m anti-cheese. I am anti-cheap, processed cheese, which is what you find in fast food tacos and big-chain pizzas. I personally adore cheese, in moderation.

I’m not a total cheese snob…my wallet doesn’t allow me to buy lovely selections of cheeses in free-standing cheese shops (I wish!). I usually get my feta, white cheddar, goat cheese and sometimes blue cheese from Costco. I buy small hunks of interesting cheeses from Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or natural foods markets, with an eye toward the middle road of finding pretty good cheeses at a pretty good price. These are not the cheeses that the USDA is pushing.

But all cheesiness aside, here’s what I really want to know? When are we going to see fruit and veggie subsidies? When is the USDA going to help fast food chains put more vegetables in their menu offerings? Seriously!

Pizza photo: © Marc Dietrich |
Cheese photo: © Anshuca |