Wednesday, June 15, 2011

USDA Demonizes Starch, While Promoting Meat, Dairy, and Disease

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the government agency responsible for the health of Americans, has recently enacted two national nutrition policies that limit the consumption of starchy grains and starchy vegetables, two traditional food groups that have provided the bulk of human diets for all of recordable history.

The first policy will radically change the diets of school children. In the January 2011 report School Meals: Building Blocks for Healthy Children, the USDA Committee on Nutrition Standards for National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs recommended a reduction in starchy vegetables, such as white potatoes and corn, to one cup (total) per school week. Children, however, are encouraged to eat turkey sausages, egg patties, cheese omelets, chicken quesadillas, beef eggrolls, hot dogs, hamburgers, pepperoni pizza, roast beef, deli ham, chocolate milk, and margarine.

The second policy prevents needy families from getting financial assistance to buy potatoes. Currently, the USDA provides vouchers through the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program for fresh fruits and vegetables. However, fresh potatoes are now specifically excluded from the list of allowable vegetables. In other words, under this second wide-reaching nutritional policy, a WIC recipient can receive butter, cheese, whole milk, and eggs through the program, but not a single white potato.
Both reports indicate that the primary reason for limiting starches, including the most popular of all vegetable foods, the potato, is to encourage people to choose more green, yellow, and orange vegetables. The net effect of both “anti-starch policies”—encouraging more nutrient-dense, low-calorie vegetables to be eaten—will be to harm the lives of women and children by causing them, by necessity, to get more of their daily sustenance from disease-causing animal foods.

Less Starch Means More Meat and Dairy

Green, yellow, and orange vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and green peppers, because of their high nutrient density, are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and other important phytochemicals; but they lack sufficient calories to support life. Focusing on nutrient density reflects a “supplementation mentality” that suggests that our health problems are somehow due to deficiencies (such as those causing scurvy, beriberi, and pellagra) and the answer is to get more nutrients. However, the opposite is actually true; the health problems of Americans are due to excesses—as in too many calories, and too much fat, sodium, cholesterol, protein, and contamination. Focusing on deficiencies will not solve problems of excesses.

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