A pretty good article on milk came from the NY Times last week, that probably ended up hurting the credibility of the USDA as much as it did milk’s. Our government’s food police, as I’ve pointed out before, are the veritable Keystone Cops when it comes to overseeing the nation’s health. But you probably knew that, so let’s get into the scam over milk’s place in your diet.
Mark Bittman’s blog post titled Got Milk? You Don’t Need It, begins by informing us,
“Americans were encouraged not only by the lobbying group called the American Dairy Association but by parents, doctors and teachers to drink four 8-ounce glasses of milk, ‘nature’s perfect food,’ every day. That’s two pounds! We don’t consume two pounds a day of anything else; even our per capita soda consumption is ‘only’ a pound a day.”
He then proceeds down the sordid history of milk recommendations while citing some interesting nutritional facts such as “Sugar — in the form of lactose — contributes about 55 percent of skim milk’s calories, giving it ounce for ounce the same calorie load as soda.”
The post then moves into storytelling, with his own history of growing up with an upset stomach that never really went away until he gave up milk. This anecdote is common. I’ve long ago given up keeping track of those I’ve worked with who’ve seen their health improve sans milk.
Then he comes back to our government, quoting the book Milk that explains how difficult it’s become to make money selling it, “The exceptions are the very largest dairy farms, factory operations with anything from 10,000 to 30,000 cows, which can exploit the system, and the few small farmers who can opt out of it and sell directly to an assured market, and who can afford the luxury of treating the animals decently.”
In fact, if you follow health news you’ve heard that it’s even worse, the FDA has actually targeted small dairy farms and collectives very aggressively over the last few years, spending millions of dollars trying to shut down the dairy farms that actually care about your health.
He closes, most appropriately, with the lobbying scam about milk, schools and osteoporosis, adding, “In fact, the rate of fractures is highest in milk-drinking countries, and it turns out that the keys to bone strength are lifelong exercise and vitamin D, which you can get from sunshine…”
“…The federal government not only supports the milk industry by spending more money on dairy than any other item in the school lunch program, but by contributing free propaganda as well as subsidies amounting to well over $4 billion in the last 10 years.”
It’s all pretty thorough and damning to an industry that’s continues to take well-deserved hits lately. He doesn’t get into the nefarious world of pasteurization, which has both ruined the would-be nutritional value of milk (it’s not really nature’s food anymore, much less “perfect”) as well as making it easy for Big Dairy to dominate the industry by using abhorrent animal raising and health practices, but it makes sense to keep the story targeted and there’s plenty of ammo.
As for the USDA, well, before you put any stock in any of their guidelines consider this line.
“To its credit, it now counts soy milk as ‘dairy.’”
Which, to me, confirms the USDA has no credit. How does soy count as dairy? The only similarity they share is a strong lobby. A soy bean is a legume. A cow is, well, a cow. Lumping the two together makes about as much sense as calling a French fry a vegetable. And who in their right mind would ever do that? Oh, wait…
I’ll shut up now.