(You may want to read my essays in order.)
April 26, 2010
Tipping Points 8
Drinking Real Milk
I started drinking real milk as an act of faith four years ago. I can still remember how shocked I was that anyone would risk drinking real milk when my neighbor casually said how lucky she felt to have been able to buy real milk locally for her children. I did not try it right away. I asked other friends if they drank “real milk,” began to read labels, and began to notice how much of our milk is now ultrapasteurized. I will confess that I am now addicted to raw milk.
I recently traveled to Norfolk, Virginia, which is a wasteland for the kind of quality food we enjoy in Maine. The best I could do for milk was organic whole milk that was homogenized and ultrapasteurized. To my surprise it tasted bitter, as does milk that has been allowed to boil. And, it had none of the silky smoothness or the energy, the feeling of life held in a living product, that I experience with real milk.
Ron Schmid, in THE UNTOLD STORY OF MILK (2009), notes that “milk in general—both pasteurized and raw—is a particularly safe food.” In 1997, “milk and milk products accounted for only two tenths of one percent of all reported cases of food-borne illness.” However, when an outbreak occurs, it “usually involves many individuals” (274).
But, does commercial milk supports human health? Schmid argues that commercial milk is a compromised product that can and does produce allergic reactions and chronic illness.
Schmid discusses two competing paradigms which emerged in France in the 1860s: Louis Pasteur’s germ theory, or the belief that germs cause illness, and Claude Bernard’s milieu interieur theory, or the belief that “illnesses are caused by a failure of the immune system to adequately cope with infectious agents” (43). Robert Koch’s discovery and isolation of the organisms causing tuberculosis and cholera (1880s) gave Pasteur’s germ theory broad acceptance. But, Schmid notes, this “mechanistic understanding of disease banished the individual’s power to prevent it and placed the mandate to cure squarely in the hands of the medical professionals” who became allies with the drug companies, since the belief arose also that disease germs could only be “overwhelmed and eliminated” by drugs (46-47).
Yet, Schmid notes, “ample evidence existed to support Bernard’s alternative theory” of the strong immune system (47). And recent studies by the Institute for Genomic Research (2008) demonstrate that a healthy human body carries about six pounds of beneficial bacteria which perform myriad tasks, to include creating conditions where pathogens cannot take hold (48).
Dr. J.E. Crewe, a Mayo Foundation founder, practiced milk cures in the 1920s and 1930s. White blood (real milk), fed exclusiverly to patients, built up resistance and produced results that Dr. Crewe claimed were so “ `uniformly excellent that one’s conception of disease and its alleviation is necessarily changed’ “ (83).
Dr. Francis M. Pottenger’s studies on hundreds of cats over 10 years showed that those fed raw milk “thrived with virtually no illness” and produced “generation after generation of healthy cats” (92). Cats fed pasteurized milk; evaporated milk; or condensed, sweetened milk became diseased and were “eventually unable to reproduce.” These cats, writes Schmid, were “highly susceptible to infectious and chronic illness and exhibited degenerative skeletal changes” (92).
Dr. Edward Howell, who died in 2000 at 102 years, was considered by many nutritionists to be “the world’s leading expert on enzymes” (10). Dr. Howell believed enzymes facilitate “ `every chemical reaction that occurs in our body’ “ (10). He believed that one is born with “ `a certain enzyme potential,’ “ and if we use up our supply of enzyme activity too quickly, we die. Thus, eating enzyme rich foods, among them real milk, helps our body preserve its enzyme potential, while eating refined foods uses up our enzyme potential.
Dr. Weston Price, a dentist, traveled the world in the 1930s to study healthy people. The archive he left gives invaluable testimony about the foods healthy people ate. Dr. Price demonstrated through biochemical analysis that native diets of healthy people were “rich in nutrients poorly supplied in modern diets” (139). Included in the list of foods commonly used by some of the healthy people Dr. Price studied are whole milk, cheese, and butter from grass-fed animals (141).
Numerous qualified observers in the early 1900s reported that cancer, diabetes, tuberculosis, and dental caries did not exist among Eskimos who ate a nutrient-dense, high protein, high-fat diet rich in fermented foods and kelp (110-115). Nomadic peoples, some of whom exist today, consumed meat; meat fat; organs; and whole, real milk from healthy pasture-fed animals and fermented and foraged foods (112).
Enzymes process human food. When we eat, food initially rests in the upper part of our stomachs for thirty to forty-five minutes where the enzymes in the food itself begin digestion. When the lower stomach opens, the body has to secrete enzymes and acids to process food. Thus, people eating enzyme-rich foods stress the body less (104-105).
Milk contains eight identifiable enzymes which facilitate the utilization and digestion of milk. Fermenting milk enhances these enzymes. Two of these enzymes destoy pathogens. Indeed, Schmid notes, lactoferrin was approved by the FDA in 2004 “for use as an anti-microbial spray to combat virulent E. coli contamination in the meat industry” (107). Pasteurization destroys these enzymes and most of the vitamins C, B6, and B12 and changes the “physical and chemical state of calcium and other minerals that affect absorption” (108).
Homogenization “crushes milk by forcing it under high pressure and temperature through holes in a die” (250). People used to judge the quality of their milk by the layer of cream on the top of the glass bottle (250, 262). The campaign to break down consumer resistence to homogenization took thirty years, but by the 1950s the milk industry “succeeded in convincing Americans to accept a product designed solely for the profit and convenience of manufacturers and distributors” (251).
After pasteurization and homogenization, milk can be “transported over long distances and stored for a long time” (250). And, ultrapasterized milk does not require refrigeration if stored in an airtight container.
Inside a milk factory, all milk is combined and then “separated in centrifuges into fat, protein and various other solids and liquids.” Then milk is reconstituted at standarized levels for whole, lowfat, and nonfat milk (240). Homogenization permitted the industry to standardize the cream levels to 3 ½ percent from the 4 to 8 percent butterfat levels of pasture-fed cows. The skimmed cream makes profitable products for the industry, like ice cream (262), where, as reading labels shows, the cream is further stretched with additives.
However, Schmid writes, “when fat is removed, it is replaced with protein-and-vitamin-rich skimmed milk powder or concentrate.” But, drying milk both produces nitrates, “which are potent carcinogens,” and causes “oxidation of the cholesterol in milk.” Oxidized cholesterol initiates “the process of injury and pathological plaque build-up in the arteries.” Finally, “the body needs vitamin A to assimilate protein,” so when we “consume foods rich in protein without the supporting fats,” the body “draws on the vitamin A stored in the liver”—a depletion which begins “ushering in a host of diseases.” Adding calcium and synthetic vitamins to milk, Schmid writes, is “unlikely to benefit consumers…since synthetic versions are poorly absorbed and may often have toxic effects” (217). Nonfat dried milk is not listed on the label since the FDA allows this practice as an industry standard (240-242).
So, cooking milk, fracturing its chemical components, and adding additives changes real milk drastically. Certainly the industrial process is introducing new and dangerous pathogens into milk.
Schmid cautions that anyone who has undergone chemotherapy should not drink raw milk as it is a living food. But, he notes also statistics from a 2003 USDA/FDA/CDC paper showing that “deli meats are ten times more likely to cause illness than raw milk” and that pasteurized milk is twenty-nine times more likely (320).
Here in Maine, we are so lucky. We can buy delicious, nutrient-dense raw milk from local farmers in our local markets. My children can and do buy real milk in South Carolina, too. Those of you who live elsewhere can go to the Real Milk website, www.realmilk.com, to locate real milk sources.
So, go ahead, refuse to let the milk industry and the government scare you. Buy local real milk!