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Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegetarianism in the News

MAY 1, 2013 -- Vegparadise News Bureau

Your Government Is Pushing the #1 Drug in America!

Asked to name the #1 addiction in the United States, one might guess cigarettes, marijuana, or alcohol. Wrong! It's cheesy pizza, the #1 drug in America. On any given day one out of every eight Americans eats pizza, and your government wants all of them to eat more of it.

Domino's Pizza Many of us don't realize the government is involved in a partnership with the dairy industry and Domino's Pizza along with other fast food chains to persuade us to eat more of this dangerous drug.

Dangerous? Pizza is responsible for 25% of the daily calorie intake for children and 29% for adults. Put simply, that's more than 1/4 of a day's calorie intake for the entire US population. Those statistics are not provided by a health organization trying to discourage pizza consumption. The information was compiled and released in a report by the United States Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Research Service (ARS) that also announced that an astonishing 13% of the US population ate pizza on any given day. These statistics are revealed in a study released by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

When it comes to saturated fat intake, 1/3 of the saturated fat gobbled by kids comes from pizza. For adults that number rises to 39%. That artery-clogging saturated fat isn't the only problem posed by this addictive drug.

National Health and Nutrition Exmination Survey Kid pizza eaters also get 1/3 of their daily dose of sodium from pizza. That number balloons to 38% for adults. Pizza ranks as one of the top three leading contributors of sodium to the American diet.

Doesn't the promotion of cheese cost a lot of money? You bet it does, but it's paid for by a USDA checkoff program. Dairy farmers must contribute 15 cents for every hundred pounds of milk that is sold for use as liquid milk or other dairy products. In 2011 that added up to $104 million for fluid milk and $98 million for other dairy products, especially cheese. That money, collected from the dairy farmers, is used to advertise and promote dairy products.

The ARS Report revealed, "For every dollar the checkoff program spends on increasing demand for cheese, farmers get $4.43 in increased revenue." That's a great return for their investment. From 1995 to 2011 per capita annual cheese consumption almost doubled with an increase from 5.4 pounds annually to 9.2 pounds. And most of that increase was from pizza sales.

Dairy Management, Inc Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI), an organization funded by approximately 49,000 dairy farmers, manages this checkoff program. DMI was created to help increase sales and demand for dairy products, and they've achieved their goal with the unintended consequence of contributing to the obesity crisis. The organization has spent more than $35 million over three years (2009 through 2011) in partnership with The Big Cheese--Domino's Pizza.

And what did DMI get for its money? The Wisconsin 6 Cheese Pizza has twice the cheese of a regular pizza. DMI helped fund the research and advertising for this unhealthy drug. Your government was indirectly paying Domino's Pizza to double the cheese used in pizza and to sell more cheese.

USDA Agriculture Research Service The ARS report to Congress detailed the extent of USDA's partnership with Domino's: "The promotional activities with Domino's included new product lines, use of more cheese than had been provided on similar items in the Domino's chain before the partnership, and the introduction of specialty cheeses into the company's recipes. In short, the assistance of dairy dollars was instrumental in positively affecting the pizza category, a category that is very important to the dairy industry."

David Pelzer, a DMI official, explained that by adding one additional ounce of cheese to a pizza, the dairy industry would sell 250 million additional pounds of cheese annually. That means 2.5 billion pounds of milk. According to him, Domino's slathers 10 million pounds of cheese on their pizzas every year.

Pizza Just in time for Super Bowl Sunday in 2009, Domino's launched Domino's American Legends, a line of six specialty pizzas featuring 40 percent more cheese than a regular pizza, cheesy crusts and combinations of premium toppings. One was even vegetarian with three kinds of cheese and vegetables piled onto that cheesy crust.

Domino's claims the sale of 11 million pizza slices on Super Bowl Sunday, nearly 80% more than a typical Sunday. They deliver 1 million whole pizzas a day around the world from the 10,566 stores in 70 countries to assist people on the road to obesity and high blood pressure.

Domino's is not the only pizza pusher to benefit from the national dairy checkoff program. Pizza Hut joined the action in the fall of 2013 with a new exciting special, 3-Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza, the first new pizza product to grace their menu in almost 20 years.

Taco Bell does not sell pizza, but that doesn't mean DMI can't partner with the company to push more cheese. The fast food chain introduced double steak quesadillas with fancy cheese shreds that led to a 4% increase in their dairy product use.

DMI efforts at McDonald's focused mostly on increasing dairy consumption with the chain offering 27 new dairy-friendly products. But they didn't ignore the cheese completely in their three burgers by including not one, but two slices of cheese on each burger.

At the same time DMI is pizza pushing, they have launched "Fuel Up to Play 60", a school health and wellness program in collaboration with the National Football League and the USDA. To counteract their responsibility, or possibility guilt, in contributing to the obesity crisis, DMI is taking action. "Make Your Move" is their campaign to encourage young people to participate in 60 minutes of exercise every day. Unfortunately, the kids will need more activity than that to work off the excess calories they ingest from all those pizza slices.

Fuel Up to Play 60 According to DMI, "Last year 14 million students ate better by adding nutritious foods such as low-fat and fat-free dairy products, fruits, vegetables and whole grains to their meals because of this program. Additionally, 14 million students were more physically active."

The low-fat and fat-free dairy products should not mean addictive pizza, a standard item served in many school cafeterias. For children, 44% of their pizza consumption occurs during lunch. Unfortunately, Congress resisted efforts by the USDA in 2011 to cut back on pizza served in school lunches. The USDA wanted to remove pizza from the vegetable classification, but strange as it seems, those addictive slices are still classified as a vegetable in the eyes of Congress.

Obviously, the USDA with its dairy checkoff program is suffering from a severe case of schizophrenia. On the one hand, the USDA's job is to promote farm products. On the other hand, the agency offers dietary guidance to all Americans to improve their health. By agreeing to these cheesy promotions, the USDA is directly undermining the health of Americans by promoting addictive, high-fat, high-calorie pizzas enhanced with excessive amounts of caloric, sodium-laden cheese.

The people who want less government and to trim the national debt may want to direct their attention to the USDA's monetary participation in all checkoff programs. The United States Government should not be a financial partner with DMI to promote dairy products, especially cheese.

It's time for the USDA to stop pushing cheese and pizza and making this big fat salty combo the #1 drug in America.

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