The government wants kids to eat more cheese. Why are children eating so much pizza, burgers, fries, grilled cheese sandwiches, or corn dogs in school? One slice of pizza contains as much as two-thirds of a day’s maximum recommended amount of saturated fat, according to the latest Federal Nutrition Campaign. The four most addictive foods are sugar, chocolate, cheese, and meat. Why the big push to eat more cheese?
A few months ago, a group of pizza chains including Domino’s, Papa John’s, Little Caesars, Godfather’s Pizza and Pizza Hut joined to fight a proposed menu labeling plan that would require them to update and pay for in-store menu boards with nutritional information, arguing that the majority of their customers order over the phone or online, according to the article, “Pizza chains band together over proposed menu-labeling plan.”
Check out an older front page of the Sacramento Bee reprinted from a NY Times article by Michael Moss, “U.S. pushes cheese while warning of fat: federal nutrition cop backs a calorie-loaded campaign.” Also see the NY Times article, November 6, 2010, “Why the Government is Promoting Cheese,” and also see the Food Health News article on why the government is promoting sales of cheese.
The expanding U.S. dairy industry produces more milk and other dairy products than it can sell. Dairy Management’s program has a $140 million budget, financed largely by a government-mandated fee on dairy producers. What will the farmers do with all the excess milk and cheese to make use of it? Why they’ll put the gusto for dairy into a push to have more cheese in restaurant foods, such as pizza and even tacos. U.S. Farmers with more milk than they can sell have to push that cheese and milk somewhere.
Remember when people on welfare sometimes complained about the government giving poor people so-called “government cheese?” Today’s Sacramento Bee article, November 7, 2010 noted that one quarter of a six-cheese pizza (Domino American Legends Wisconsin pizza) contains 12 grams of saturated fat, which is 77% of the recommended daily maximum, 430 calories, representing 22% of recommended daily maximum, and a whopping 990 mg of salt (sodium), which amounts to 66% of recommended daily maximum.
And that maximum is for healthy people without high blood pressure, not for kids with high blood pressure or any other age group, and not for the salt sensitive who may have a variant kidney gene whereby their blood pressure may rise upon eating too much salt. So you first have to find out whether you’re the 30% of the American population with high blood pressure, or the 60% of the population with high blood pressure who also are salt-sensitive.
Saturated fats and kids favorite foods
That leaves you with the saturated fat with which to contend, let alone the calories. Pizza sales are great. They’re rising, and the government wants sales of cheese to continue rising. Consumers ate more pizza when the pizza contained more cheese.
The November 7, 2010 Sacramento Bee article “U.S. pushes cheese while warning of fat,” reports that a group called Dairy Management teamed up with Domino’s to develop a line of pizzas with 40% more cheese, followed by a $12 million marketing campaign, according to that article. Sales went up by double digits. At the Dairy Management website, also is a link where scholarships are offered to those interested in dairy-related careers. Scholarship applications will be available Jan. 2, 2011.
Would anyone like to develop a healthy pizza without dairy, cheese, or salt? How about those vegan restaurants serving vegan pizzas made from raw foods and perhaps rice or nut-based nondairy ‘cheese’? You can make cheese lookalikes from nuts or grains.
Legumes or pizza for kids?
Our family traditionally eats home-made pizza topped with vegetables and hummos instead of dairy products. We use soy ‘cheese’ or vegan ‘cheese’, rice ‘cheese’, almond ‘cheese’ or simply pureed chick peas mixed with two or three tablespoons of sesame seed paste (tahini). Not all pizza toppings have to be dairy-derived. Some pizzas are topped with pineapple slices or various roasted vegetables that taste good on a thin whole-grain or sprouted lentil-derived crust.
There’s even raw foods-based pizzas in some vegan restaurants. What multi-ethnic varieties of baked or toasted flat bread can Sacramento chefs serve in the way of pizza, open-faced sandwiches, or ‘mezza’?
Some people like to top pizzas with baked fish, onions, zucchini, and red bell peppers or ‘cheese’ made from ground nuts and various sauces, whether tomato-paste based or from layers of hummos (ground garbanzo bean paste and pureed sesame paste) and vegetables, fruits, or even chunks of cooked fish–salmon, cod, or sardine balls with pitted olives and onions.
Problems with a diet top-heavy in saturated fats
The problem with saturated fats is that it has been linked to heart disease, whereas what looks like cheese that’s made from ground up nuts and juices is good for the heart, for example almond cheese, if only it didn’t contain so much salt in the commercial varieties. It’s time to make your own cheese from nuts and seeds without adding salt.
Did you know that Dairy Management which helps to market cheese is a marketing creation of the US Department of Agriculture? That’s right. The government wants you to buy all that cheese. But at the same time, the federal government is on an anti-obesity drive discouraging the eating of too much, well–excess cheese and other saturated fats.
Dairy Management, according to the Sacramento Bee article, has an annual $140 million budget and is largely financed by a “government-mandated fee on the dairy industry.” But it also gets several million dollars each year from the Agriculture Department, which “appoints some of its board members.”
Maybe it’s time for you to make your own pizza
How about a cheese-free Eastern Mediterranean pizza popular in the Levant called “Biblical Pizza.” Here’s what goes onto the whole-grain crust instead of cheese: First you take a thin-crust pizza that you make not from white flour but from ground sprouted lentils. Buy yourself a dry grinder such as a Vita-Mix dry grinder or use a coffee grinder. And grind lentils into flour. Then make a thin pizza crust from sprouted lentils. Go ahead and sprout lentils overnight or for two days in a jar of a little water until they start to sprout. Grind them into meal or grain.
Or use garbanzo beans ground into flour. You can buy garbanzo bean flour at most health food stores or natural food stores here in Sacramento. For example, Elliot’s on El Camino Avenue has packages of garbanzo bean flour. Or use your own whole grain flours or your favorite bean flours.
Make your pizza crust with or without added yeast following any recipe for pizza crust. When you top your pizza before baking it, top it with a mixture of groun sesame seed paste (tahini) and ground garbanzo beans (chick peas). You can buy this ready-made hummus in any Sacramento supermarket. But if you make it yourself, adding a quarter cup of lemon juice, a pinch of pepper, salt if desired, or other herbs and spices, some chopped garlic, chopped parsley and chopped mint or pitted olives in the amount you prefer from a pinch to a quarter cup, and olive oil or sesame seed oil.
Add two or three tablespoons of tahini sauce which you can buy or make yourself by turning sesame seeds, a little water, a little lemon juice, a little oil into a puree in your blender. Basically it’s a mix of a little ground sesame seed paste to each cup of pureed cooked or raw, soaked chick peas (garbanzo beans). When you mix ground sesame seed paste with ground chick peas (garbanzos) it’s called hummus, popular all over the Middle East, North Africa, and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Whole legume, gluten-free pizza
What you’re going to do is top your whole grain or whole legume or whole bean flourless pizza crust with circles of hummus. The hummus takes the place of cheese. If you need that cheesy sensation, you could add almond cheese that you make from nuts or buy in various Sacramento health food stores. For example, Elliot’s carries almond cheese. Or make your pizza without cheese.
All you have to do is wipe the hummos all over your pizza crust. Then top the hummos instead of cheese with all types of herbs and chopped or sliced vegetables such as thin slices of zucchini or eggplant, tomato or red bell pepper, slices of yellow squash, cucumber, mint, parsley, thinly sliced red onion, and any other pizza toppings you like from shiitake or maitake mushrooms to spinach. Then sprinkle a handful of pine nuts, sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts, or pumpkin seeds and pistachio nuts on top.
If you like fish, top the pizza with pieces of wild caught canned salmon or cooked pieces of cod. If you want a vegan pizza, sprinkle nori seaweed on top or a pinch of dulce. Pick the vegetables you enjoy most and top your pizza with slices of your favorite vegetables. Then bake your crust until it’s crisp, but not for too long.
Use tomato paste if you like the taste of tomato as the first layer and put the hummos on top of the tomato. Or skip the tomato and use hummos topped with zucchini or eggplant thinly sliced and other vegetables of your choice such as sliced tomatoes, red bell peppers, and thinly sliced red onions, parsley, and mint. Add garlic and spices such as thyme, oregano, or your favorite fresh herbs.
Cheese-heavy restaurant meals
Make your own pizza, your way. In the Sacramento Bee article, you’ll find a subtitle on page 20, “Dairy: Ag agency touts cheese-heavy restaurant meals.” You’ll also see reference to ‘disputed’ studies and research. For example, the clinical study that showed “people on a reduced-calorie diet who consume three servings of milk, cheese, or yogurt each day can lose significantly more weight and more body fat than those who just cut calories.”
The Sacramento Bee article notes that milk consumption is in decline. The article examines how Dairy Management “hit on a fresh marketing strategy,” with its weight loss campaign. Check out the book on which the campaign has been based, according to the NY Times article by Michael Moss, reprinted in today’s Sacramento Bee. That book is, The Calcium Key: The Revolutionary Diet Discovery That Will Help You Lose Weight Faster.
Your job as a consumer to to find out whether further research says whether there was weight loss. What’s the continuting research saying about weight loss and eating cheese? Read the NY Times article. It’s online also as well as reprinted in today’s Sacramento Bee. The article also appears in yesterday’s news releases in a variety of other newspapers online. Read online the full report, “While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales.”
Where to find information on food myths
According to the International Food Information Council (IFIC) nutrition/food safety staff, while there are nutrition controversies almost too numerous to mention, a couple stand out – food ‘myths’ (or misinformation) concerning the safety/health benefits of consuming fish and seafood, especially canned tuna; and continuing misinformation about the safety of low-calorie sweeteners, such as Aspartame.
On the site you can click on links to several IFIC-produced resources examining these controversies in greater depth. If you’re a journalist or other media representative, the current IFIC Foundation Media Guide on Food Safety and Nutrition is available free to credentialed journalists (members of the media). It contains valuable material on the history of nutrition and is a comprehensive resource on a variety of food safety and nutrition topics.
The print edition contains backgrounders, contact information for almost 300 independent, scientific experts, and links to reference materials found on the International Food Information Council (IFIC) site. The new edition brings together, in an easy-to-use reference guide, information journalists need to sort out increasingly complex food safety and nutrition issues.
The controversy asks the question: “Is science better or worse than nature?” What is meant by ‘science’ actually refers to technology—the chemical and mechanical solutions to problems or states found in ‘nature.’
Another question arises: Isn’t science really nature, and isn’t nature science? Three such topics related to the history of nutrition as well as its current state are about the psychology, anthropology, and sociology of eating.
The psychology of eating forms the basis of most historical nutrition issues. One area of nutrition called “the psychology of eating” historically has focused on topics such as the study of slow eating, fad diets, and why people eat by habit.
Let’s first take obesity as a nutrition issue. Childhood obesity is the biggest topic facing health professionals. If the most critical issue facing health professionals including nutrition educators is obesity among children and adults in this country. The connection between nutrition and health trends is an area ready for debate.
How do health professionals show consumers how to reverse the trend of increasing overweight? Many obese adolescents become obese adults with a complement of chronic disease risk factors.
Halting obesity rates in children is crucial to the long term health of this country What about the rest of the undernourished world? The proliferation of nutrition information changing daily is overwhelming, and that is the biggest issue of keeping up with the times.
What research path do consumers take when a new study appears saying that any given food has specific genetic, lifestyle, or health benefits? What happens when then soon after, another study is released noting that the same food, supplement, herb, or neutracetical has negative health consequences?
How would someone with no background in judging research studies know whether a study had been flawed or the study’s sample of participants was too small? Without experience in the field, few people would be able to say with confidence whether more research is needed or whether conclusions were valid. The result is debate or controversy over possible food misinformation in the news.
This type controversy about food as medicine has opened the field of nutrition to debate. For example, what health issues surround studies of soy products, homogenized milk, and margarine? And what studies can you go to looking for validation in the field of food as medicine?
One good source you might look at online is the Journal of Medicinal Food. This publication is the scientific journal for leaders of the nutraceutical and functional food revolutions. The Journal of Medicinal Food provides the latest scientific research on this topic.
On the opposite side would be some physicians who argue that they don’t know whether medicinal foods or foods used as medicine is controlled. The question remains who controls standardizations of the neutraceutical industry? That’s where the debate comes between food as medicine versus pharmaceuticals. Consumers want standardization with supplements.
How does the average consumer with no science training make informed decisions about what foods are healthy for each person or for all individuals? Would the average consumer benefit by a costly test to determine whether one’s genetic signature is helped or harmed by ingestion of a specific food or medicine? Are those tests accurate? Such topics are ripe for debate.
One of the hottest controversies in nutrition today is food misinformation appearing in various popular media—newspapers, general consumer magazines, and the tabloid press. However, three equally important controversies in nutrition actually are science versus nature, childhood obesity, and the ever-increasing type 2 diabetes epidemic in children and adults. Are medicinal foods based on validated research, for example treating certain gallbladder problems with lecithin?
And where can you find studies about foods, including herbs, food and drug interactions, supplements, and neutraceuticals that are not called ‘weak’ by other scientists or physicians if the Internet is still called The Wild West by some doctors? If you’re looking for some validated medical and health news sites you can trust, also check out my other Examiner article, What are some of the best validated holistic family health news sites online.
Last year, eighty percent of American internet users, or some 113 million adults, have searched for health information on the internet, according to the ebizMBA site (the e-business knowledge base). Yet only 15% of health seekers actually check the source and date of the health information to see who else has validated the information and whether the sites are reliable, credible, and accurate. See the links to last year’s 20 most popular health sites and read the article at that site, “Top 20 Most Popular Health Websites.”
Around 10% of internet health information searchers check the sources or do any amount of fact-checking most of the time. Do you check out the studies and other information or compare doctor’s opinions online against facts? How do you separate the opinions from the facts? You look for validation, credibility, and reliability in the informational site.