Meatless Monday: Physicians urge US government to use unwanted cheese for potholes instead of feeding kids

Remember the controversy last month with the U.S. government had to buy a bunch of cheese to help the dairy industry?

The USDA announced on August 23 that it will buy up 11 million pounds of unwanted cheese at a cost of $20 million, in order to prop up sagging dairy industry revenues.

United States dairies have produced far more cheese than consumers are willing to buy, leading to a glut of more than 1 billion pounds of cheese currently in storage.

Now a group representing doctors called the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has another suggestion: forget kids who are in danger already of developing obesity and diabetes. The group instead recommends that cheese be used instead to fill potholes in Washington, D.C. (ed: we are not making this up)

Typical cheeses are 70 percent fat and are among the foods highest in cholesterol and sodium, according to the committee.

“The current administration has vowed to tackle childhood obesity and to fight for a healthier America. But dumping 11 million pounds of cheese on children and economically disadvantaged people will aggravate the problems they are already struggling with,” says Neal Barnard, M.D., president of the Physicians Committee. “Food assistance programs need healthful foods—fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.”
Potholes occur when water freezes in cracks in asphalt. In April, Washington’s Department of Transportation launched an aggressive pothole-filling program, called Potholepalooza. The first Potholepalozza was held in 2009, and since then, more than 64,000 potholes have been filled.
Cheese may make a surprisingly good pothole patch. As the Federal Highway Administration notes in its best practices for pothole repair, good binders are needed to fill the holes. Because cheese is mostly fat, it repels water, and, mixed with gravel, may make an excellent repair material.
Dr. Barnard acknowledged that further testing will be needed to see how well cheese works as a pothole-filler. In the meantime, he asked that the cheese remain in storage.

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Peg Fong is also in recovery from newspapers

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