The Reality Behind the USDA Dietary Guidelines

The reality behind the health claims made by food corporations and the USDA dietary guidelines reveals there is more at steak here than just our taste buds. A bowl of kale and beans just isn’t as sexy as a juicy bacon cheese burger and a milkshake. But motivation to eat healthy isn’t something you can pick up in the drive thru.

We are bombarded daily with marketing images designed to present themselves as education, and manifest themselves as dollars in corporate (and individual) accounts. The logo above makes me feel warm, fuzzy and cared about while simultaneously inducing a craving for a Happy Meal. McDonalds loves my kids, and my kids love McDonalds. Win/win.

We live in a country where our food supply is highly regulated. Everyone knows the Board of Health is not to be messed with. They will Shut. You. Down. So the reality is that our food is not only safe, but exemplary.

Is it?

Consider the USDA dietary guidelines. The guidelines appear to be presented in service to the public health. They are written, however, for the promotion of agricultural commodities.


Promoting the food industries simply translates into a multi-billion dollar PR machine for private corporations designed only to make a profit.

How can the USDA dietary guidelines actually offer unbiased education in diet composition and optimal nutrition, when their true purpose is to market food products?

They can’t. And they don’t.

The reality boils down to “simple” government logic. One sub-agency, discretely named the Agricultural Marketing Service coordinates with the National School Lunch Program to allocate more than $500 million tax dollars to the dairy, beef, egg and poultry industries, to provide animal products for our children.

Interestingly, only $161 million is offered to buy fruits and vegetables.

The dairy industry spends $190 million each year on the “milk mustache” advertisements. Millions more are spent on award-winning campaigns such as “” and “Milk! It Does a Body Good”. The USDA  is funding these money-makers with federal tax dollars, granting over 10 billion in subsidies to the dairy industry in the last 10 years. And yet the ONLY research that even begins to suggest that the consumption of dairy products might be helpful in strengthening bones and preventing osteoporosis has been PAID FOR by the National Dairy Council.

Countries that consume the most dairy products also have the highest rates of osteoporosis. Dairy consumption correlates to diabetes, leukemia, ovarian and prostate cancer, not to mention that 75 percent of the population is lactose intolerant to some degree, resulting in bloating, gas, heartburn, allergies, acne, ear infections and more. And non-organic dairy contains antibiotics and growth hormones, resulting in “super-bug” evolution, premature puberty in females and a host of hormone and metabolic disorders.

National Cattleman’s Beef Association spent 25.5 million on promotional efforts in 2005, and the National Pork Board invested

10 million in advertising. When you add that to McDonald’s yearly advertising budget of $2 billion, is it any wonder we all believe meat to be an essential part of our diet, culture and health?

The non-for profit National Chicken Council spends millions each year on programs like it’s National Chicken Month (coming in September!), the National Chicken Cooking contest and to ‘help’ consumers increase their chicken ‘awareness’ that it is “easy to prepare, tastes good, is healthy and nutritious, reasonably priced and consistent in quality.” (Please note: this is a marketing campaign not a health promotion.)

These reality is that these national non-profits are in business to influence the USDA dietary guidelines. They provide the “information” for articles we all read in our magazines, from Cooking Light to Shape and Oprah; they lobby for legislative support both financial and legal.   My guess is that the 5,000 Americans sickened by Campylobacter poisoning EACH DAY are not featured in the glossy brochure. And I’ll bet the fact that 90 percent of US chickens are infected with leukosis (cancer) at the time of slaughter isn’t mentioned at all.

The chickens we eat are not the same animals we envision on our grandparents farms. Todays chickens are bred to reach slaughter weight in a 6 week life span, instead of the 4 month growth period of the ‘natural’ chicken. CHICK-CHING! Factory chickens get so big so fast that most of them can’t walk because their bone structure can’t support their weight.(maybe there really are ‘boneless’ chickens…) They are pumped full of growth hormones to maximize meat harvest.

These same hormones allow dairy cows to produce more than 10 times the milk they are biologically built for. And by the time they are slaughtered (4-5 years), 40 percent of these milkers are lame due to intensive confinement, filth, and the strain of constant pregnancy and milking. Mmmmm…What’s wrong with the beef?

Chickens, pigs and cows are also pumped full of antibiotics. Why? Well, when you have 20,000 chickens housed in a football field-sized, artificially lit shed for their 40 days of ‘life’, the reality is crowded and stressful. Their sit and breathe their own shit, as it’s never picked up.These conditions promote the growth and mutation of pathogens and increase the global risk of super viruses and bacteria. The poultry industry has convinced the USDA to reclassify feces as a ‘cosmetic blemish’, and consequently, millions of chickens leaking yellow pus, green feces, marred by lung and heart infections, cancerous tumors and skin conditions are shipped for sale to consumers. Good thing we bathe the chicken in breading, mayo and lettuce and hide it under that McBun…

Is it any surprise that the CDC estimates there are 76 million cases of food borne-illness each year? We always say we’ve ‘caught’ a bug. No…we probably ate the bug. When the flesh we are putting in our mouth is full of disease, it doesn’t require a huge leap of logic to wonder why our society is so sick.

And don’t think you can switch worry-free to turkey meat. The demand for turkey is quickly producing the same factory, assembly line conditions. 90 percent of turkeys are contaminated with enough campylobacter at the time of slaughter to cause illness in humans. Turkeys are really the least suitable animal for factory conditions (because we haven’t been altering their genetics long enough…), and the natural insectivores are fed a diet of bad meat, sawdust and leather tannery by-products. They require the most antibiotic therapy of all farmed animals.

About 89 percent of US beef patties contain traces of deadly E. coli even though there are over 80 different antibiotics present in cows milk…. and even with all the drug therapy, 30 to 50 percent of dairy cows suffer from mastitis. Got milk?

I visited the CDC websites for various diseases, and the following information is 2010. Consider this: 34.1 million Americans have Asthma…nearly 9 percent are school children. 25.8 million children and adults have diabetes, and another 79 million have ‘pre-diabetes’. And 81.1 million adults have some sort of cardiovascular disease. 23.5 million Americans suffer from chronic and life-threatening autoimmune diseases. And over 11.1 million Americans have had some type of cancer, 1.5 million of whom will die this year.

We can heal our bodies, our nation and our planet. But for now, we are what we eat. The USDA dietary guidelines promote illness.

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