The nutritional guidelines raise and lower demand for specific foods by helping direct consumer choices, but more directly by setting the menus of federal, state and local food programs at schools, nutrition assistance programs for the poor, and the military.
Food service administrators at schools design their own menus, often with input from parents and students, but they can only receive federal reimbursement if they follow the nutritional guidelines.
"In tight budget times, school food service managers would clearly want to leverage their food choices to maximize their available resources, by choosing more of the recommended foods," Marsh said.
That's the practice followed by the Glendale Unified School District, which provides 12,000 lunches each school day, spending $8 million annually on food.
"We haven't had a chance to digest (the new pyramid) yet, but we follow what the USDA asks us to promote." said Agnes Lally, the district's food services director.
While most of the dairy farms have left L.A. County since the 1970s, much of the milk shipped to L.A.-area stores is processed, packaged, or manufactured into yogurt, cheese and other products locally at large plants such as Alta Dena Dairy and California Dairy Inc.'s plant in Artesia.
(Many of the farms are nearby in the Chino and Ontario area, where the state runs a 50-square-mile dairy preserve, considered the largest concentration of dairies in the world, with 300 dairies and more than 325,000 cows.)
Peacock Cheese Co. doesn't have any contracts with schools or other institutions, but it does distribute 1,000 varieties of cheese to stores and restaurants from a 30,000-square-foot warehouse in Vernon.
Sylvia Filipini, the company's president, said she expects the new guidelines should result in increased sales.
"This can be very helpful, or it can kill an industry," she said, noting how health warnings about cholesterol led to a dramatic decline in the egg consumption 30 years ago that is only now reversing as scientists amend their earlier precautions.
Fruit and produce companies were already benefiting from a trend of schools demanding more fresh fruit and vegetables as parents complained about their children's sugary snacks.
The Glendale Unified School District, for example, now has fresh fruit and salad bars at every one of its schools.
Art La Londe, co-owner of Valley Fruit & Produce Co., which supplies fresh produce to local universities, military bases and schools, said the government's recommendations to eat more fruit and vegetables would likely boost general demand for his products, though he admits it will be hard to track since he does not have direct institutional contracts.
"I am happy to see this," La Lone said. "I think this will increase business."
Matt McInerney, executive vice president of Western Growers Association, said the new guidelines were the result of more concentrated and coordinated lobbying and marketing efforts by the fruit and vegetable industry, which has lagged behind the aggressive promotion by dairy interests.
"It's only been in the last five years or so that the fruit and vegetable industry coalesced to be at the table and help drive the debate on how policymakers should be making dietary guidelines," he said.
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