Government dietary advice provides hilarious mixed message

If you love cheese, have you ever thought about why you love cheese? Maybe you’ve fallen under the hypnotic spell of Dairy Management.

Dairy Management is an organization that promotes dairy products in the U.S. And when it comes to boosting cheese consumption, nobody does it better. Over the past 40 years, Americans have nearly tripled their annual cheese intake. Each of us consumes, on average, about 33 pounds per year.

And you can thank Dairy Management marketing blitzes for much of that increase.

The mastermind behind this cheese-fest is Dairy Management CEO Thomas P. Gallagher. A former Domino’s executive told the New York Times that Gallagher is “a very creative guy” and “a big thinker.” Sort of the Don Draper of cheese.

Last year, Gallagher wrote in a trade magazine, “More cheese on pizza equals more cheese sales.”

And that’s the big thinking behind the Wisconsin–one of the new cheesier Domino’s pizzas promoted by Dairy Management.

The Wisconsin delivers a heaping mound of six cheeses, with two cheeses in the crust. To get any cheesier you’d have to go swimming in a Wisconsin cheese lake.

And Domino’s loves it.

A spokesperson for the company tells the Times that this is the perfect way to support U.S. dairy farmers. And it’s also a perfect way to support Domino’s, because Dairy Management isn’t being paid by Domino’s to promote the Wisconsin and their other new and cheesier pizzas. The $12 million promotion is being paid for by…Dairy Management.

Sound bizarre?

Here’s the kicker: Dairy Management is a division of the USDA. That’s right–a government agency is using your tax dollars to sell you cheese!

Eat it up!

To be fair, much of Dairy Management’s funding comes from levies the USDA imposes on dairy farmers. But all of Dairy Management’s budget ($136 million in 2009) comes from the USDA.

Now…what’s wrong (and hilarious) with this picture?

As caretaker of the famous nutrition pyramid, the USDA is the official U.S. dietary watchdog. In other words, their nutrition advice is deeply mainstream all the way. And needless to say, one of the core elements of that advice is to severely restrict saturated fat intake.

So the USDA gives us a big “NO” on saturated fats, then gives Dairy Management millions to boost the dairy business by promoting saturated fat consumption.

Seriously, you could not make this stuff up!

“While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales” Michael Moss, New York Times, 11/6/10,

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