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Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegetarianism in the News

OCTOBER 1, 2015 -- Vegparadise News Bureau

Does Our Nation Need a Law
To Force Kids to Drink Milk?

How do you get kids to drink milk? Easy, you pass the School Milk Nutrition Act of 2015 that essentially says shove it down their throats. Does that sound too harsh? Read on.

Milk Since the 1970s milk consumption has cratered. Between the 1970s and 2000s the percentage of pre-adolescent children who did not drink milk on a given day rose from 12% to 24%. Those who drank milk three or more times a day decreased from 31% to 18%. Those statistics appeared in a US Department of Agriculture report in 2013 and had the dairy industry very worried.

Why are kids drinking less milk? Maybe they and their parents are realizing it's not the health food it's cracked up to be. Walk into any supermarket and look at the dairy case. The shelves are filled with non-dairy alternatives like soymilk, almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, and more despite the dairy industry's efforts to prevent the use of the word "milk" in any of these products.

Maybe, students' stomachs are sending a message. If they are Asian, Black, Latino, or even White, they may be lactose intolerant and are experiencing stomach distress and discomfort after drinking milk: gas, bloating, cramps, nausea, and diarrhea.

How can this nation remedy this supposed milk crisis? One solution is this Shove The Milk Down Their Throats Act of 2015. Unfortunately, the stench from this proposed law has traveled across the US from Washington where H.R. 2407 was introduced into the House of Representatives by two lackeys (or lactosers to us) of the dairy industry.

It's a rarity when a Republican and a Democrat work together on any legislation, but in this case they were highly motivated when each received a $20,000 donation from the agricultural services and products industry in 2014. Read this and other juicy information on the Open Secrets website.

Congressman Glenn Thompson Our heroes are Congressman Joe Courtney, Democrat from Connecticut, and Congressman Glenn Thompson, Republican from Pennsylvania. Thompson issued a press release stating the purpose of the bill is to "reverse declining milk consumption in schools."

Milk consumption--a national crisis?
Is the decline in milk consumption a national crisis worthy of the attention of the House of Representatives? For $40,000 it was worth congressional attention!

Courtney announced, "As our nation works to replace 'empty calorie' food in our children's school meals, one thing is clear--low-fat dairy is the opposite of 'empty.' It packs valuable nutrients including protein, potassium, and calcium--a solid foundation for building a healthy menu in America's schools."

Not only does the law pack "valuable nutrients" into school lunches, it also packs a large amount of valuable green stuff into both congressmen's campaign war chests.

The dairy industry lobbyists have inserted this choice statement into the law: "It is in the public interest to promote the health of the Nation's school-age population by encouraging and promoting consumption of milk in schools."

Quite disturbing to parents is that the law says schools "may offer students flavored and unflavored milk that contains no more than 150 calories per 8-ounce serving and lactose-free milk."

Sound innocent enough? Let's consider flavored milk. Many students won't drink plain, low-fat, or non-fat milk because they don't like the taste or the bloated feeling in their stomachs. But add a little sugar to that carton of milk, and it goes down easy.

According to Dietitian Cameron Wells, M.P.H., R.D., "Reduced-fat milk is the seventh highest source of calories for children and adolescents. Reduced-fat and nonfat milks get most of their calories from sugar--lactose--which is why one cup of skim milk has more sugar than a serving of Lucky Charms."

By the way, a serving of Lucky Charms (1 cup) weighs in at 142 calories and 14g of sugar (3 1/2 teaspoons). Add a cup of milk, and that's the beginning of a sugar-soaked day. No wonder kids are busting their britches.

Three teaspoons of sugar makes the milk go down
The calorie count and the sugar data that accompany milk don't seem to support the two congressmen's nutritional praise. Three varieties of milk (whole, reduced-fat, non-fat) have 12 grams of sugar (three teaspoons) in an 8-ounce container. Surprisingly, low-fat milk has 13 grams of sugar. The calories in one cup of milk are as follows:

Calories in Milk
whole milk 3.25% fat 149 calories
reduced-fat milk 2% fat 122 calories
low-fat milk 1% fat 102 calories
non-fat milk 0% fat 83 calories

If a kid doesn't like milk or is lactose intolerant, according to H.R. 2407, he has a "disability." The proposed law states the school "provide a substitute for fluid milk for students whose disability restricts their diet, on receipt of a written statement from a licensed physician that identifies the disability that restricts the student's diet and that specifies the substitute for fluid milk."

Imagine labeling a child "disabled" because he won't drink milk! Even more outrageous is that it requires a written statement from the child's physician to say the kid just doesn't like milk, so get off his back.

If a student would rather drink soy milk or rice milk, he/she had better display "a written statement of a medical authority or by a student's parent or legal guardian that identifies the medical or other special dietary need that restricts the student's diet, except the school shall not be required to provide beverages other than beverages the school has identified as acceptable substitutes." This is totally ridiculous!

The act stipulates that substitutes must "include fortification of calcium, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, and vitamin B-12 for students who cannot consume fluid milk because of a medical or other special dietary need."

What happened to allowing kids to make their own choices just like grown-ups do?
If the substitution exceeds the cost of milk, the federal government will not pay the cost; schools will have to make up the difference.

This Sugar My Milk Nutrition Act of 2015 would make a significant change in rules for flavored milks in school lunch programs. Where they were previously permitted to include only non-fat flavored milks, the schools now would be allowed to offer low-fat flavored milk if it contained no more than 150 calories per 8-ounce container. According to the Dairy Council of California, 1% chocolate milk has 158 calories and 25 grams of sugar (over six teaspoons).

Chocolate Milk What a great strategy! With those three teaspoons of sugar plus three more from added sugar, the milk is sure to get more kids hooked. That will surely reverse the milk consumption slide that occurred between 2012 and 2014 when schools served 187 million fewer half-pints of milk.

While many schools have worked diligently to remove sodas from campuses to battle childhood obesity, along comes the dairy industry and its bovine illiterates in Congress with an effort to legislate the addition of calories and sugar to young peoples' diets. How sweet that is!

In an effort to reduce the calories in milk, the dairy industry has petitioned the FDA to allow the addition of artificial sweeteners like aspartame to be added to the milk and not be labeled "reduced calorie" or "reduced sugar." The industry has learned that the label "reduced calorie" does not appeal to kids. Many parents are upset that a neurotoxic additive like aspartame could be added to milk to make the beverage more appealing to children.

The time has come to recognize that school lunch programs developed by the government are a joke because they can be purchased and/or influenced by the food industry.

Before the House of Representatives passes H.R. 2407 School Milk Nutrition Act of 2015, we suggest that parents write protest letters to their congressmen stating, "My child does not have a disability because he/she doesn't like milk. I'm upset that the schools are forced to participate in this effort to enrich the dairy industry."

If this information is making you angry, that's good. Let's give the dairy industry a kick in the udder by letting them know we're sick of their efforts to buy legislation.

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