Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Milk-based Rant

I'm a fan of don't ask don't tell, when it comes to the military's poilcy, because I believe that all people should have equal opportunities.  What can I say?  I'm a people lover.  Where I'm not a fan of this policy is when it comes to the food I eat and serve my family.  You see, I have this crazy notion that if I am eating 3 meals, plus a snack or two a day, putting things into my body, that those things affect my body.  And I'd like to control that.  But if things like additives and chemicals aren't included on the labels, how am I supposed to know that they are there?  Oh...I'm not supposed to question that?  Silly me.

I'm pretty even-keel, for the most part.  This morning, I am livid.  I'm livid over this petition to the FDA from two of the biggest dairy conglomerates to change the definition of "milk" to be able to include additives, including aspartame, in milk without noting that on the label.  It would merely become what is considered milk.  You can read the proposal yourself, and I'm not going to pick it apart too much here, but it infuriates me.

Their reasoning?  To combat childhood obesity.

You see, according to these groups, our kids are much more likely to choose flavored milk at school than plain milk.  I get that.  I mean, flavored milk tastes like melted ice cream...go figure that kids would choose that without any guidance or guidelines.  That's like saying, "would you like broccoli or a lollipop?".  No matter how much the kid likes broccoli, they're going to go for the lollipop.  To me, the solution would be to get that ****ing flavored milk out of the schools and just offer plain milk.  Oh, the kids would opt to buy water instead?  How is that worse for them than the sugar and artificial colors and flavors in flavored milk?  My kids have flavored milk as an option in their schools, and here's how they handle it, with no more prompting from me than the everyday standards for food than they have grown up with in my home: they don't buy it.  They have the ability to, and I have no control over their choices in the cafeteria, but they choose not to.  At the beginning of the year, they did.  Everyday for a few weeks.  And then, they stopped.  Both girls have mentioned to me that it's really more of a treat than an everyday food, and they don't really want it.  These days, they drink the water from their water bottles, or once in a while, get the plain milk.  No lectures from me, no guilt.  Just them being aware of what real food is, what milk in it's natural form is like, and that anything overly sweet and pink is not milk.  But no, instead of encouraging true healthy habits, the industry seems to want to trick us by making the attractive flavored milks lower calorie by adding more artificial crap.

So, here's what really pisses me off, as a parent: now these businesses want to adulterate even that plain milk that I have taught my kids is the healthy option.  Without telling consumers, because consumers are to dumb to understand.  And they want permission for that to be okay.  Read this quote from the petition:   "IDFA and NMPF argue that nutrient content claims such as “reduced calorie” are not attractive to children, and maintain that consumers can more easily identify the overall nutritional value of milk products that are flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners if the labels do not include such claims. Further, the petitioners assert that consumers do not recognize milk—including flavored milk—as necessarily containing sugar. Accordingly, the petitioners state that milk flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners should be labeled as milk without further claims so that consumers can “more easily identify its overall nutritional value.”"   So, because our kids don't like being fed food branded as "diet", and because too many big words might confuse us, it's better to just not tell us at all.  Chew on that for a while.

This opens up all kinds of questions for me.  If you look at the footnotes, it appears that this practice is already approved and in use for ice cream.  So what else isn't what I think it is?  What's already in our "milk"?  What about "flour", and "sugar", or other foods that I think of as being single-ingredient items?  If you can change the definition of what a food is, what real control is there?  And forget about the organics...if the definition of the item changes, it is only the companies' morals that keep them from using the same additives, because there's no regulation of something allowed in the product by its' definition.  

I pray that the FDA doesn't pass this through.

Maybe I'm overreacting.  Maybe I'm thinking too much.  Maybe I'm crazy.  But I'm pissed off.

As a parent, one of my main jobs is protecting my kids.  Another is providing for them.  Now I'm realizing that things that I do to provide for them, like feeding them healthy foods like milk, might be undermining my role in protecting them.  Aspartame is a carcinogen.  It causes cancer.  And they want to put it in our milk.  Thanks, dairy industry, but I already have cancer.  I have micro-cancer spots on the half of my thyroid that hasn't been taken out yet, and I sure as hell don't need anything else adding to it.  I'd also like to avoid any of my kids having to go through what I have, or worse.  I want to stop losing people I care about to cancer as well.  How is is that people can just overlook the fact that with all these diet products and additives on the market, obesity and cancer and diabetes and other diseases are exponentially increasing????  

All of this blows my mind.  I want to move to a farm and have my own cow and goat and chickens.  But my suburban life won't allow that right now.  So I'll just continue to work on knowing the people my food comes from, and buying from people I trust.  And hoping that that is the best thing for my family.  And maybe crying a little, because the system is so out of whack, and I have no answers.  It affects people I care about.  It affects people you care about.  And they think we won't even notice.

I'd say that I'm sorry for venting, but I'm not.  I want more people to notice.  I want more people to care about this.  I want more people to rant to their friends and make them aware of how we're having the wool pulled over our eyes.  And I want the world to change.  That's all.  Just change it.