To Drink or not to Drink

milk

Broach the subject of milk with 5 of your friends and you could have 5 differing opinions (each being delivered passionately?). It can get quite complicated. Many folks harbor some degree of paranoia toward raw milk, others prefer raw milk. Some say milk is designed for baby cows and not for humans, others consider it a super-food and lose weight on the milk diet. Organizations like PETA constantly portray dairy operations as being almost criminal, while other individuals love cows, love milk (and cheese, yogurt, kefir, etc.), and… love baby calves.

Maybe I’m disqualified to address this topic, because I admittedly place myself in the latter category. I love cows, love milk and other dairy foods, and love calves. I suggest these three loves can co-exist, and that liking milk does not indicate a hate—or abuse—of cows. PETA advocates are partially right, the dairy world harbors atrocious manipulation and exploitation of cows—turning them into grain-inhaling milk-producing machines that are subjected to the cruelest of unnatural treatment for a mere 2-3 years before becoming (cheap) lean meat for the fast food industry. And I don’t expect that side of dairy to improve with the advent in recent years of multi-thousand cow dairies taking place of smaller family-scale dairy farms.

So who’s right, and who’s wrong. Is it the milk guzzling cow lover, the vegan cow hugger, the occasional milk drinker who doesn’t have a clue, but “just knows” raw milk is dangerous? Or perhaps it’s not about the cows at all. Maybe it’s not about drinking milk or not drinking milk. What if the bigger issue is the “how”? How is the milk produced? How are the cows treated? Are they allowed to be cows, or made to be machines? Are they given the right to enjoy their natural habitat outdoors, or are they confined to concrete and steel? Are they on a man-made TMR (total mix ration) of fermented grains, soy, and antibiotics (among other ingredients), or are they allowed the age-old natural bovine relationship with perennial grasses?

I feel like modern society increasingly misses the point on not only the milk issue, but on many other life issues as well. It could be called FTD (failure to discern) syndrome—the swallowing of propaganda just because some “expert” said so, or perhaps because Google said so. Maybe we’ve listened too long to Big Food’s line concerning food; all milk is milk, no matter how it’s produced, all tomatoes are the same, all calories, all fats, all carbs are the same, all people should strictly adhere to the SAD (Standard American diet). One size fits all.

We are fortunate to be in an era that offers volumes of information that our grandparents could only dream of. But even in this world of information, discernment is paramount. While the internet has brought unprecedented intelligence to our fingertips of the common populace, it has also simplified the feeding of propaganda to the masses. However, the good news is that if you google raw milk, you now find not only the dire warnings posted by the CDC and FDA, you also find websites for advocacy groups like cornucopia.org and realmilk.com, as well as leads to farms that produce and sell it. This is good, and provides a much more balanced view of the issues at hand. It has been said that the worldwide web is a great playing field leveler. I can agree with that, but it’s also a gigantic rumor mill. And that’s the View from the Country.