Magazine article Mother Jones

Milk Money

Magazine article Mother Jones

Milk Money

Article excerpt

EVER WONDER why school lunches are pushingsweetened milk? Or why fast-food restaurants suddenly offer concoctions like pizza with "40 percent more cheese"? You can thankthe dairy checkoff, a usDA-supervised system under which dairy producers pay into a kitty to promote their industry. The checkoffs marketing arm, Dairy Management Inc., runs "programs aimed at promoting dairy consumption and protecting the good image of dairy farmers, dairy products and the dairy industry." Sounds good for farmers and Americans, right? Well, not exactly: Dairy Management regularly helps create new menu items-many of which are a far cry from the usda's recommendations for a healthy diet.

Take chocolate milk: Most US schools now ban sodas and other sugary beverages, but flavored mi Ik usually gets a free pass. A single serving of chocolate milk contains between four and six teaspoons of sugar (the recommended daily limit for young children is three teaspoons)- and yet 70 percent of milk served in schools is flavored.

What gives? In a 2014 report, public-interest lawyer Michele Simon noted that sales of milk drop by 35 percent when schools replace flavored milk with plain varieties at cafeterias, and that schools make up 7to 8 percent oft he total market for fluid milk. "That's a sizable and important piece of business," Barbara O'Brien, senior executive vice president of Dairy Management, told a trade magazine in 2011. "Those sales are crucial to lifelong dairy consumption and keeping people positively indinedto our products and our industry. …

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