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Challenging the Sacred Cow

From John's Journal
Americans probably eat more dairy products than any other food items except meat and refined sugar products. Millions of dollars are spent each year extolling the virtues of milk. It ranks right up there with Mom and apple pie. In some instances, though, milk itself can be harmful, and in others, problems arise from excessive intake or from the way in which it is processed.

For infants, cow's milk is a poor substitute for mother's milk. It has the wrong fat-to-protein ratio and lacks hundreds of key nutrients, enzymes, and antibodies that infants need for development. Many adults, especially those of Asian or African origin, lack the enzyme used to digest the lactose present in milk, so milk ferments in their intestines rather than being absorbed as a nutrient. The amount of phosphorus present in milk is so great that it may prevent the absorption of other minerals, such as magnesium, zinc, and copper. The milk protein, casein, binds up much of the iron in other foods that may be in the digestive tract (milk itself has little iron), causing iron deficiencies.

Beyond these problems inherent in the use of cow's milk, let's look at what happens when we alter the milk. First, we pasteurize it, destroying vitamins and helpful bacteria in order to enable it to sit longer on the shelf without spoiling and to ensure that no harmful bacteria have infected it. Then, it is usually homogenized, a process whereby the large fat molecules of the cream are smashed up into a smaller size so they will stay in the solution rather than rising to the top. This causes biochemical changes in milk that are poorly understood. Also, the fluid is bombarded with ultraviolet radiation, which converts some of the naturally-occurring ergosterol into vitamin D to make up for the vitamin D we don't get from the sun. This source of vitamin D has been a very useful crutch for our indoor society in recent years.

We process much of our milk into cheese, butter, ice cream, or yogurt. In its natural form, yogurt is one of the best dairy products we can eat because the lactose is predigested in the yogurt culture. However, what is actually chemically added as it is processed, we can only begin to tell from reading the labels, because the dairy industry has special exemptions from many of the labeling disclosure laws. The yogurt you eat may contain so much gelatin, sugar, cornstarch, and preservatives that they cancel out any of the beneficial effects of the acidophilus culture. As for ice cream, do you know what's in it besides petrochemicals and air? Certainly little ice and no cream! (with a few notable exceptions becoming available).

I realize that challenging the dairy industry and the sacred institution of milk-drinking - contradicting those wholesome, milk-mustached lads and lassies who extol the virtues of this wonder" food - will be considered un-American by some, but the facts don't support their claims. —John

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