Do we need Dairy?

Mark Bittman, for those unfamiliar, is a New York Times Opinion columnist, Time's magazine food columnist, author of How to Cook Everything, and was, for good reason, recently named one of Greatist's Top 15 Crusaders for Health in the Food Industry

His latest Opinion piece?  We don't need dairy.  This article is sure to spark controversy in our milk-calcium-obsessed culture, but we're humans. We don't need cow's milk.  It's made to make baby cows grow, and so human adults don't need to be drinking or eating it.

In Got Milk?  You Don't Need It, Bittman targets America's beloved milk [and the USDA, which recommends 3 (three?!) cups daily] as...
- a major source of sugar (as much as soda?!)
- harmful to the 50 million people in America who are lactose intolerant
- the source of heartburn.

In the article (read it!), Bittman shares his own story, like so many others', of weaning off his Prevacid medication by simply eliminating dairy from his diet.  This has repeatedly been an effective preventative treatment, but in a country where the heartburn-treating industry makes $50 million annually, doctors, drug companies, and our own government are unlikely to be promoting the dairy-free solution anytime soon.

Forget about "Got Milk?" -->  Better questions to ask include: why is the government heavily promoting the milk of an animal that is not human?  that so many people are intolerant of or allergic to?  that could, and should, be replaced with a sugar-free, hydrating drink like water?


I stopped drinking milk a while ago.  I can't remember exactly when, but it was probably around the time I watched Food, Inc. or Got the facts on Milk? The Milk Documentary.  But I, like Bittman, have noticed links between my dairy intake and acid and inflammation.  I still love my Greek yogurt and continued eating it even when I went paleo, but even that sometimes makes me burp (excuse me!).  Whether or not you've been formally diagnosed, could it hurt to give up dairy for 24 hours, a week, or a month?  No!  We're human.  It may have nutrients, but we don't need cow's milk.  Don't worry; there are plenty of natural, non-dairy sources of calcium out there.  (Diane of Balanced Bites lists calcium sources.) You'll be fine.  (Reminder that I'm NOT a doctor! Just sharing what I believe based on what I've learned and experienced.)  

Go without it.  See how you do.  If you notice improvements in your health, congrats!  Keep it up!  No more Prevacid or antacids!  If not, then do what you like. I'm not your mother.


If you're going to continue drinking milk and eating dairy...

  • Be sure that it's rGBH-free and certified organic.  
  • Consider finding dairy that is fermented (Greek yogurt!) and from grass-fed cows
  • Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms reminds us in his 2012 Real Food Summit "Real Food Defined" presentation that cows are HERBIVORES and should not be eating the things (dead cows, dead chickens, corn, grains) that many industrial farmers still feed them; they should be eating grass.  He advises looking for "grass-finished."  This means that the cows were only fed their nature-given grass, not just fed grass SOME point in their life (as the "grass-fed" label allows--to be fed grains in the end!).  
  • Further, Mark Sisson recommends raw, fermented, full-fat dairy and avoiding non-organic and homogenized dairy at all costs.  Stick to organic, hormone- and antibiotic-free!

This is a reminder to me, just as much as you.  Although I don't drink regular milk, I do consume Greek yogurt, butters, and cheeses.  I try to stick with goat cheese, because it doesn't affect me like others do (and I'm not alone in this; goat dairy and some aged cheeses lead to fewer digestive issues.) .  however, I have not paid as much attention as I KNOW I should to the source of my dairy.

DARE YOU TO... Be aware of the adverse effects of dairy, and if you're lucky enough not to experience them, then make sure you know where your milk is coming from, how the cows were fed and treated, and what else is in your dairy.

Do you consume dairy?  Why or why not?  

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