So…. this popped up on my radar, and I must say… it all sounds awfully familiar:

[…]So, three months ago, I decided to give up dairy products as a test. Twenty-four hours later, my heartburn was gone. Never, it seems, to return. In fact, I can devour linguine puttanesca (with anchovies) and go to bed an hour later; fellow heartburn sufferers will be impressed. Perhaps equally impressive is that I mentioned this to a friend who had the same problem, tried the same approach, and had the same results. Presto! No dairy, no heartburn! (A third had no success. Hey, it’s not a controlled double-blind experiment, but there is no downside to trying it.)

Conditions like mine are barely on the radar. Although treating heartburn is a business worth more than $10 billion a year, the solution may be as simple as laying off dairy. (Which, need I point out, is free.) What’s clear is that the widespread existence of lactose intolerance, says Dr. Baker, is “a pretty good sign that we’ve evolved to drink human milk when we’re babies but have no need for the milk of any animals. And no matter what you call a chronic dairy problem — milk allergy, milk intolerance, lactose intolerance — the action is the same: avoid all foods derived from milk for at least five days and see what happens.”

Adds Dr. Barnard, “It’s worth noting that milk and other dairy products are our biggest source of saturated fat, and there are very credible links between dairy consumption and both Type 1 diabetes and the most dangerous form of prostate cancer.” Then, of course, there are our 9 million dairy cows, most of whom live tortured, miserable lives while making a significant contribution to greenhouse gases.

But what about the bucolic cow on the family farm? What about bone density and osteoporosis? What about Mom, and apple pie?

Mom: Don’t know about yours, but mine’s doing pretty well. Apple pie (best made with one crust, plenty of apples) will be fine.

But the bucolic cow and family farm barely exist: “Given the Kafkaesque federal milk marketing order system, it’s impossible for anyone to make a living producing and selling milk,” says Anne Mendelson, author of “Milk.” “The exceptions are the very largest dairy farms, factory operations with anything from 10,000 to 30,000 cows, which can exploit the system, and the few small farmers who can opt out of it and sell directly to an assured market, and who can afford the luxury of treating the animals decently.”

Osteoporosis? You don’t need milk, or large amounts of calcium, for bone integrity. In fact, the rate of fractures is highest in milk-drinking countries, and it turns out that the keys to bone strength are lifelong exercise and vitamin D, which you can get from sunshine. Most humans never tasted fresh milk from any source other than their mother for almost all of human history, and fresh cow’s milk could not be routinely available to urbanites without industrial production. The federal government not only supports the milk industry by spending more money on dairy than any other item in the school lunch program, but by contributing free propaganda as well as subsidies amounting to well over $4 billion in the last 10 years.

There’s nothing un-American about re-evaluating those commitments with an eye toward sensibility. Meanwhile, pass the water. [source]

Bittman made a pretty spurious comparison in the beginning of the essay that I couldn’t rock with, and quotes an organization that gives me a bit of the heebie jeebies… so I cropped the first part out. Besides, I need to stop quoting whole articles, anyway.

He also talks about “getting vitamin D from sunshine,” which isn’t entirely accurate for those of us of the more melanin-infused persuasion… which is complicated since lots of versions of milk do, in fact, come “fortified” with vitamin D. But then again, the “Blacks and Vitamin D” argument isn’t solid, anyway, because I also know that air pollution – most prevalent in inner cities/urban environments, the places where most Blacks are located – can inhibit one’s ability to produce vitamin D from the sun, and this may have more to do with it and not some sort of inability that comes attached to being Black.

Moving right along… Fooducate, always awesome, followed that up with this:

Milk was in the news last week, following an opinion piece by well respected cookbook author and journalist Mark Bittman. Got Milk? Don’t Need It generated a lively discussion on the interwebs, and we thought we’d chime in with some of our thoughts as well.

1. Milk Allergy: Bittman recently stopped drinking milk and eating any dairy products because of a health problem he has had for years. Overnight his symptoms disappeared. Bittman concludes that everyone should follow course.

Our take: Lactose intolerance does affect certain ethnic groups and populations, but many Americans don’t have any problem breaking down dairy in the body. Statistics based on N=1 (me, you, your aunt, her neighbor, etc…) are meaningless.

2. Saturated Fat: Dairy is a major source of saturated fat, which should be limited. Hence we should not consume as many milk products as we do, especially cheese.

Our take: The same can be said of meat products as well. When it comes to milk and yogurt, we recommend low or non fat products. As for cheese, it should be consumed as a condiment. Buy the good stuff.

3. Factory Farms: Dairy cows are treated poorly says Bittman, so we shouldn’t be a part of that.

Our take: True. The entire food chain in modern society is not geared for animal welfare. So potentially any animal product is going to come from a mistreated being. If this is a concern to you, opt for organic milk or products from small local farms. Of course there is the growing vegetarian and vegan trend. If you don’t want to fully commit, you can try going plant based just one or two days a week.

4. Calcium and Vitamin D Scaremongering: The dairy industry claims dairy is a must because of our calcium and vitamin D needs. Without them, we’d all be developing osteoporosis and breaking bones. Bittman: “the rate of fractures is highest in milk-drinking countries, and it turns out that the keys to bone strength are lifelong exercise and vitamin D, which you can get from sunshine.”

Our take: Milk is definitely not the only source of calcium in a diet, and vitamin D is actually added to milk, not naturally present. Sunshine is not always available, so some people may need to supplement vitamin D, or eat certain types of seafood. There are entire countries where dairy is not a part of the culture and people seem to have strong bones. The calcium argument may not be as strong as the milk industry would like us to believe.

*******

Bottom line: Milk and dairy products have been a part of human diets for generations. They obviously work at sustaining entire populations. But a large portion of humanity never consumed milk or dairy products and somehow managed to thrive. Each family needs to figure out for itself if dairy does it good or not. The nutrients from milk are available elsewhere.

Ahhh… I love the smell of vindication in the morning. Thoughts?