The USDA's dueling mandates: promoting good nutrition and making good farm policy.
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|Tue, 11-30-2010 - 1:16pm|
This week on The Watch List: Why would an agency launch a campaign to get Americans to eat less saturated fat, and — at the same time — promote one of the single greatest sources of it?
Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that an organization called Dairy Management — which reports to the U.S. Department of Agriculture — gave Domino’s Pizza millions of dollars to develop and market a new line of extra-cheesy pizzas. Nutrition experts howled that the new pies were nearly the opposite of the low-fat food that the USDA usually promotes.
We wanted to know whether there are other examples of the USDA working at cross purposes with … the USDA. Sure enough, Need to Know correspondent Rick Karr found that the example cited by The Times isn’t the only case of the government sending mixed messages when it comes to the food we eat.Leaning toward fat
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This week on our Karr on Culture podcast: Former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman discussed the tug-of-war between good nutrition and good farm policy.
On the most recent Need to Know, we followed up on a New York Times report on agricultural promotion programs whose messages sometimes undercut efforts by the USDA – and First Lady Michelle Obama — to combat obesity and encourage Americans to eat healthy foods. Our reporting uncovered 17 such programs, promoting commodities from milk to peanuts, several of which have partnered with fast-food chains to promote menu items that nutritionists say are unhealthy. Dan Glickman says there’s nothing surprising in the tension between those messages, given the USDA’s multiple mandates. He says information is Americans’ best weapon against the advertising of unhealthy foods.