Organic Milk

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Personally, if it weren’t for cheese pizza, I’m for dropping dairy from our lives altogether. Cow’s milk is for nourishing calves, period. We’ve been sold an amazing bill of goods from the National Dairy Council, variations of (remember this?) “you’ll never outgrow your need for milk.”

I clearly recall how virtually all the nutrition information we learned in grammar school consisted of posters and handouts from the Dairy Council. How they finagled dairy into an “important food group” and you needed five (or was it six?) servings as day. Whole milk, butter, cheese, and ice cream. All that ice cream!

The original warnings about dairy were pretty much focused on the fat content. Those were the days when our dads were dropping dead of heart attacks in their fifties. They’d just finished that thick steak, washed down with a tall glass of milk, an ice cream sundae for dessert, and were relaxing with a Lucky Strike on the patio.

Fortunately, we’re smoking less. But we still pack away that dairy.

And thanks to the chemical giant Monsanto, developer of Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), we have dairy coming out of our ears. As you’re probably aware, giving cows rBGH dramatically increases milk production. However, rBGH increases infection in the breast tissue of cows, and causes cows digestive disorders and more multiple births.

The cow infections require antibiotic treatment, so ultimately your glass of milk becomes a less-than-appetizing chemical swill.

Any cancer risks? The rBGH increases cows’ levels of the pituitary hormone IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor). This hormone actually protects certain cancer cells (breast, ovary, prostate) from dying off, but whether or not it enters our bodies through dairy is uncertain. Monsanto unsurprisingly says rBGH is perfectly safe. Researchers without dollar signs for eyeballs are not so certain.

In fact, so uncertain is the data that both Europe and Canada have banned all rBGH use. In the US, Monsanto has successfully convinced the FDA that milk products need not be labeled with rBGH risks.

Here’s where consumer protesting is paying off. Despite dead silence from Monsanto, more and more farmers are weaning their herds from rBGH. More and more dairies are now offering organic milk and labeling their products “rBGH-free.”

Organic milk is quite expensive, so the burden of unhealthful dairy falls especially hard on lower-income families. That unfair disparity would come to an immediate halt were we to ban rBGH altogether, and everybody’s dairy was chemical free.

For that dream to become reality, you’ll have to write to your congressperson.

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