Sugar, eggs, and trust

On February 3, 2023, the Biden administration’s USDA (US Department of Agriculture) issued new nutrition guidance for our nation’s school lunch programs — less sugar!

Why? To cut childhood obesity, a huge challenge in our nation. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that about a fifth of US children are considered obese. OMG.

As I read about this latest development, undoubtedly welcome, I can’t help but think back to my own childhood, growing up on a chicken farm, and wondering about what is happening to trust in our nation’s health policies.

Here’s my sugar, carbs, and eggs (proteins) story.

From fourth grade until I went to college, I grew up on a chicken farm in Flemington, New Jersey. It was called the Ideal Poultry Farm. I wonder if anyone reading this blog remembers that farm, which was on the edge of town on Bonnell Street. My mother had remarried, and that is what George was doing. Flemington was a wonderful place to grow up.

But, the chicken farm business in the 1950’s and 60’s was hard. Despite my parents’ best efforts — and they worked super hard on that farm — it continued to lose money. Many other small chicken farms in New Jersey found themselves in the same dire situation.

What was happening? Besides what these farmers could actually do on their small farms, larger forces were at work. What killed chicken farming in New Jersey? Probably many causes, but let’s see what some of them might have been.

Was it overproduction of eggs in the all-inclusive “chicken factories” of the Midwest? Or the rise in real estate prices in New Jersey? Or farmers’ children heading to college and away from farm life? Or the cholesterol scare that had been building for years and reached new heights in the 1960s? I’ll focus on the last of these possibilities — the cholesterol scare of the 1960s and 70s.

In 1968, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommended that, given the level of cholesterol in eggs, people consume no more than three eggs a week to reduce cardiovascular disease. Later, the USDA, joined by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), created their own policy which emphasized, besides, the basic food groups to eat, the foods to avoid (or eat in moderation). Sadly, these latter

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, JD, MA

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, JD, MA, is a reformer, thought leader, lawyer, and author. Check out her book, Special Education 2.0 and her medicine bottle art!

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