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When Did Milk Become Bad for You?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Last week, as I entered Union Station Metro station in Washington, I saw ads for what appeared to be First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign. It was a series of three ads, the first said: “Let’s move hot dogs out of school lunch.” Okay, fine, because, let’s face it, while hot dogs may be scrumptious and all-beef, they look like small batons of questionable meat.

The second ad said: “Let’s move cheese out of school lunch.” I mean, I guess. Cheese, while a good source of calcium (and delicious), is not necessarily the healthiest thing in the world. I don’t think it should be removed from children’s lunches, but I just chalked it up to liberal nanny-state policies.

It was the third ad that really got my goat. Hidden in the corner, the least noticeable sign read: “Let’s move milk out of school lunch.” Really? Milk? Arguably one of the best sources of calcium, which, as I’ve been told since I was old enough to remember, makes bones strong?

When did milk become unhealthy? Rather, when did milk become so bad for you that it should be banned from school lunches and put on the same level as the hot dog?

Curious about the reasoning behind the sudden “war on milk,” I visited the website mentioned on the ad. To my surprise, it was not, in fact, Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” website, but was a separate organization called “Let’s Really Move!” – an apparent response to the failure of the First Lady’s core initiative:

“The stalled ‘Let’s Move’ campaign needs to get back in gear. The ‘Let’s Move’ campaign has abandoned any major effort to improve the nation’s nutrition, focusing instead on noncontroversial recommendations about exercise. That strategy will not combat skyrocketing rates of childhood obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol.”

As for the organization’s crusade against milk (even skim milk), they claim it does not actually promote bone health or protect against osteoporosis and is high in fat, cholesterol and sugar. Instead of milk, they suggest beans, broccoli, kale, tofu and whole grains. Mmmm! That’s sure to get the kids excited about healthy eating!

Conversely, Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” suggests fat-free milk is okay.

Perhaps you’ve noticed, as I have, that it’s nearly impossible these days to keep track of what foods are good for you and which ones aren’t. I grew up thinking milk was great, now it’s apparently as bad for you as what’s sold at sporting events.

Advocacy groups and nanny-state politicians have for decades tried to control us through our diets. But they don’t just try to control us by telling us what we should or should not eat, they also control the very supply of food.

For milk, the government subsidizes the dairy industry and sets production limits, which means taxpayers and consumers are paying more for a gallon of milk than they should be.

And the current version of the farm bill will make such market distortions even worse. The new Dairy Management Supply Program will set milk prices and effectively tax dairy farmers if prices fall
below those price controls. The government will then use that tax money to purchase products, controlling the supply.

Dairy farmers are not happy about this, and are meeting with members of Congress this month in order to discuss their issues with the farm bill. Wonderful. We know what that will mean: dairy farmers will receive special consideration and carve-outs within the farm bill, further muddling the bill and promoting corporate welfare.

With this kind of control over something so basic to our diets, it’s no wonder the farm bill has stalled in Congress. Now, lawmakers need to work to remove these kinds of market-distorting special handouts, not just because they promote cronyism, but because, seriously, “milk does a body good.”

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