USDA Provides Millions To The Food Industry To Lobby Us To Eat Unhealthy Food

From Kiera Butler at Mother Jones:

You know the Environmental Working Group's super-helpful list of the most-pesticide-laden fruits and veggies? Well, there's a Big Ag lobby group called the Alliance for Food and Farming that's trying to debunk it. And the USDA just gave the lobbyists $180,000 to aid their smear campaign, reports The Atlantic.

So exactly who's behind the Alliance for Food and Farming? According to SourceWatch its board of directors includes honchos from the California Strawberry Commission, the California Tomato Farmers, the Produce Marketing Association, and the California Association of Pest Control Advisors, among other industry groups. The AFF's main argument: "Promotion of the 'Dirty Dozen' list actually makes the work of improving the diets of Americans more difficult because it scares consumers away from the affordable fruits and vegetables that they enjoy."

Riiiight. Considering that the EPA freely admits that pesticides can cause "birth defects, nerve damage, cancer, and other effects," it's totally boneheaded to suggest that raising consumer awareness about pesticides is making Americans less healthy. What's more, it's not like the Environmental Working Group is suggesting you give up on produce entirely and stock your fridge with Mountain Dew instead. In fact, EWG explicitly states that the list isn't meant to discourage people from eating their veggies.

From The Atlantic by Barry Estabrook:

The White House garden may be green and unsullied by agricultural chemicals, but Obama's United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) just forked over $180,000 to fund an agribusiness-backed smear campaign against the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) "Shopper's Guide to Pesticides," which includes the "Dirty Dozen," a list of the foods most commonly found to have pesticide residue.

In July, a website called SafeFruitsandVeggies.com was launched with the sole purpose of debunking the EWG's guide. The website, with the headline, "The Real Dangers of the Dirty Dozen List," was started by the Alliance for Food and Farming,(http://www.foodandfarming.info/) a California-based group that bills itself as a non-profit organization made up of farmers and farm groups who want to "communicate their commitment to food safety and care for the land."

In fact, the alliance is little more than a PR front whose directors include executives from corporate agricultural interests such as Sunkist, Western Growers, California Strawberry Commission, California Tomato Farmers, and the California Association of Pest Control Advisors.

On top of this story we also have the USDA spending huge amounts of money to combat obesity while their marketing group, Dairy Management, spends tax payer dollars to help companies promote and sell more cheese. Now, the main argument against this so far has been that cheese is full of fat, therefore unhealthy and causes weight gain. While I agree that eating a lot of fat causes weight gain there is considerable evidence now that fat may not be the real cause of heart disease and low fat milk may actually be rather unhealthy. My main problem with this is the tax payers being charged for advertising for corporations by a government agency that should be in charge of protecting us from the food corporations.

The main health problems with dairy products are the hormones dairy cows are given and then the antibiotics they are given due to the infections of their udders secondary to the hormones. BTW, these infections cause pus in the milk millions of Americans are drinking. Yummy, drink up. We have a surplus of milk in this country so there is no reason whatsoever to give cows hormones to increase milk production. The other problem with dairy products is the cows are fed GMO corn and other crap, cows are supposed to mainly eat grass. When animals don’t eat the foods they are adapted to they become unhealthy. They are also kept in horrible conditions making them unhealthy in many ways. I only eat organic dairy products and that includes regular cheese which is not low in fat and some milk, which is often whole milk. I eat an extremely healthy diet. All of my choices are based on extensive research. The amount of fat has to be balanced and some fats are healthier than others. If we eat a lot of fat we will become fat ourselves due to the dense calories it contains.

Remember when they had everyone sold on the story that eggs were unhealthy? Chickens which are not fed the right foods and allowed to wander about outside eating the things they instinctively know they need will be unhealthy. The eggs produced in filthy, chemical environments in inhumane and crowded conditions do not have the right mix of omegas (and many other problems). Just like cows, chickens need to eat grass, they also need to eat bugs for protein. That is why free ranging chickens is so important. Chickens are mainly fed cheap GMO corn and this causes high levels of Omega 6 with lower levels of Omega 3 in their proteins. We need those levels to be more equal or it causes an imbalance of our so called “good” and “bad” cholesterol. In other words if we eat protein from animals that are allowed to eat what they are supposed to the food is generally healthy for us. Eggs from healthy chickens are healthy for humans, but most of the eggs we have been eating in the U.S. are not healthy. We evolved to eat protein from animals who evolved to eat the foods in their natural environments, our bodies are engineered to process them. The food industry is changing the delicate balance of our food and this is one of the major reasons for obesity and health problems in the United States.
The USDA should have long ago forced the food industry to make healthy foods the cheapest things to buy in the grocery store. Instead, people with little money to buy food have to eat unhealthy or go hungry. Healthy food is expensive and the food in grocery stores has sat in warehouses often for weeks before making it to the store shelves. By the time we get produce in Alaska it has often already started to go moldy or rot. The fructose or corn syrup filled foods have contributed greatly to the obesity epidemic. Fructose blocks a hormone that tells us we are full as well as supplying large amounts of empty calories. The USDA should have emphasized the maintenance of health by teaching the public to eat a wide variety of healthy foods. The money should be spent on educating the public, not given to corporations to indoctrinate the public so they can sell their products.

David Gardner at Mail Online:

Daily Management spent $136 million last year, compared to a budget of $5.6 million for the Agriculture Department’s Centre for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.


Food Market Report said...

Organic food contains high no. of nutrients like vitamins and minerals.so,it beneficial for human health than eating conventional food.Due to this,demand of organic food goes on increasing day by day.It is expensive because farmers getting lower yield per acre due to non use of pesticide and fertilizer..very informative post shared here,It focused on USAD program whose main aim is to create awareness about healthy food..

Celia Harrison said...

@Food Market Report, If the USDA's "main aim is to create awareness about healthy food" they would be doing things very differently. Their main purpose is to promote corporations. This is true with both USDA housing and agriculture.