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The Milk of Human Triviality

This is interesting, not because it says anything about milk per se, but because it reveals how we, as a hunger-obsessed and pleasure fixated lot, are always in love with the idea of recreation and lost, or overlooked, value in what we chose to consume. Milk, for many years, was very much maligned by health advocates and a portion of the medical establishment because of its negative impact on the body (constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, chronic sinusitis and allergies being just some of the medical problems associated with milk consumption) and the milk industry (at least the industrial wing of that industry) was revealed to be less than wholesome with their deplorable standards and practices.

Chevy Chase on milk

In the 90s we got the Got Milk campaign, which did much to get people talking about milk (and the clever ad campaign) but didn’t really do much to counter the fear that milk did not, in fact, do a body good.

Got Milk?

Still, milk consumption in the U.S. has been on the decline for some time, and Americans rank about 15th in the world when it comes to milk consumption (we drink an average of around 20 gallons per person annually, whereas a country like Finland consumes at least twice that amount). Whether the adoption of milk as a sort of boutique ingredient does anything to raise its profile remains to be seen.

Does milk deserve another chance? And if so, should its appeal trickle down from the high-end of the culinary spectrum to drench us all in its milky splendor?

Read more: Cholesterol, Eating for Health, Following Food, Food, Raw, , , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

87 comments

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12:24AM PST on Jan 10, 2012

Minimal amount!

4:45AM PST on Nov 7, 2010

You can be as kind as you like really, there is no getting around how the milk industry functions. The fact is that bulls are 'milked' for their semen, cows are artificially inseminated and kept pregnant all their working lives (which is short before they get ground up into hamburger meat), their calves are taken away from them and male calves are of no use to the farmer, so they are raised for veal or the shish kebab trade and they die young and live cruelly. We have been indoctrinated and conditioned to use certain products, not because they are useful per se, but because we like the taste and thus we indulge in the habit regardless of the welfare of the animals. I do not use dairy at all and that is not because I don't love cheese and yoghurt, I do, but the price the animals have to pay, even from farms that have high welfare standards the basic facts remain the same...dairy farming can't function otherwise. There are excellent alternatives from the plant kingdom that taste wonderful. It's a small step that causes no pain for you to change from supporting a cruel industry to living a more constructive and caring life.

3:52AM PDT on Oct 16, 2010

I think if something has been found to be unhealthy, it does not matter how 'gourmet' it can get - it should not be consumed or at least be consumed in minimal amounts. Thanks for sharing.

7:08AM PDT on Oct 4, 2010

I don't think anybody who is concerned about health is going to drink dairy milk- raw or not. Obviously, raw is a step up, but milk is milk, and should not be drunk unless you are a baby and it is provided by your mother.

And why was this in the raw section? What raw foodist would ever drink dairy milk??

6:56AM PDT on Oct 2, 2010

Thank u, interesting...

1:17PM PDT on Oct 1, 2010

What kind of argument is that?? Just because an animal eats something, doesn´t mean it´s good for it. Some cats also love chocolate, and that´s toxic to them. Goats eat plastic, leather and almost anything, doesn´t mean it´s nutritional to them Animals do NOT naturally consume milk, only as babies. Animals that live with humans consume all kinds of rubbish, including the food that´s made for them. Strangely enough, many pets also die from cancer or tumours of some sort.
Anyway, here´s a cat link
http://www.professorshouse.com/pets/cats/should-cats-drink-milk.aspx

11:08AM PDT on Sep 29, 2010

thanks

4:57PM PDT on Sep 28, 2010

While the blog may have some valid points, there are a couple of things would like to point out, Milk in most of Europe and Canada have NO hormones and NO antibiotics. I will not argue the cruelty issue, though I know for certain some small dairy producers work VERY hard to be as kind and caring to their cows as possible, I know they are the exception.

I am confused by the suggestion on one hand that milk causes many health problems and that the USA is among the lowest consumers of milk. Should we assume by this that Americans are healthier than those Scandinavians who consume twice as much milk? I would be SHOCKED if that were proven to be the case.

12:53PM PDT on Sep 28, 2010

Dorota wrote: Curiously, we are the only species that drinks another species' milk.

That's simply not true. A few of my cats drink milk if I offer it to them. The only reason they're not in a barn milking cows is because they don't have thumbs. If they did have thumbs, you better believe they'd be drinking that milk whenever they could. As would the dogs. And pigs love milk too.

Don't confuse choice with biology.

12:03PM PDT on Sep 28, 2010

Curiously, we are the only species that drinks another species' milk. In addition to hurting us (antibiotics and growth hormones), the factory produced milk hurts cows and their calves. After all, the cow has to be lactating, i.e. has just given birth. They take the calf away to deprive it of iron (for meat) and take it's mother's milk. If we want to drink milk, it should definitely be human milk. Yet, many of you reading this may shudder at the thought. This is what is curious about humanity. As I read in another post, even Gandhi thought that our collective mind is not in the right place. Please, consider adopting a non-violent lifestyle and switch to a plant based diet. It is good for you, the environment and the animals.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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