An article called “While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales” was recently published in the New York Times. The article outlines what the USDA has been doing to bolster the dairy industry while at the same time trying to fight obesity. The USDA has created an agency called Dairy Management which functions to promote the sales of milk and cheese products in the US in an attempt to help the struggling dairy farmer.
Dairy Management has greatly intensified the attempts that the government had previously making to help the dairy industry. There are direct parallels to what the government has being doing to help stabilize the prices of wheat. The problem that has appeared is in the form of conflicting interests. The USDA is both putting out information that is supposed to help people make healthy nutrition decisions and trying to sell more dairy. While there is a huge market for low fat milk, the cheeses and higher fat milks and yogurts are suffering greatly. This has led the USDA to partner with places like Domino’s pizza to help them advertise cheesier pizzas and in turn buy more pizza. The USDA also start a campaign saying that 3 servings of dairy per day will help people lose weight, this information is highly contested and not considered valid.
Something different that can be seen in this article is an issue of deskilling. Many people rely on governments and even magazines to tell them how to eat to maintain their health or lose weight. Some people lack nutritional knowledge to the point that they need to be told that soda is not good for you. The USDA in this case is manipulating their position of power as the purveyors of knowledge by sending out controversial information to sell a product that they profit from. How much responsibility should we place on the government to give us truthful information about our own health? And how surprised should we be when they misuse the power they’re handed?