Throw milk away? No thank you! I enjoy staying healthy, and America’s dairy farmers have worked far too hard for me throw their precious girls’ milk into the trash. Plus, my favorite cows would be so mad at me if they knew that I was wasting their milk! Your recently re-circulated anti-milk infographic is inaccurate on so many levels, as it uses deception and false statistics in order to encourage families to stop consuming America’s most nutrient-dense food. I’m not sure why you would provide innocent families with misinformation- potentially for some sad marketing excuse? Moms everywhere are being misguided right now, and this infographic is simply an unethical tactic.
This infographic is not new to the Internet; It circulated back in October 2012 through LearnStuff.com, but apparently you didn’t learn the first time how inaccurate these claims are. And quite frankly, I would be rather embarrassed if I were you for posting something like this. As an animal scientist, I see very little validity to this infographic. As a dairy expert, I see very little validity to this infographic. As a runner, I see very little validity to this infographic. And as an avid (more like obsessive) milk drinker, I see VERY LITTLE VALIDITY to this infographic. Let’s talk about why, and I think that it’s important to go through it statistic by statistic…
Claim: The USDA tells American kids to drink 3 servings of milk a day.
For optimal health and nutrition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends American adults to consume at least 3 servings of dairy each day- this can be in the form of fluid milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream (okaaaaay, so this last one isn’t the most nutritionally-sound option, but it’s obviously my personal favorite dairy product so I felt the need to include it- plus there are great low-fat ice cream options), whatever floats your boat. The dairy section at your local grocery store is packed with many different delicious options to fit your family’s needs! For fluid milk, this contains whole milk fat, low-fat, fat-free, and flavored options (YUM STRAWBERRY MILK!). The current USDA nutritional guideline chart is called “MyPlate.” I have included a description of the experts’ suggested nutritional guidelines for healthy living. Also, here is a great article to answer your questions about MyPlate and dairy. Or, if you would like to read an official USDA document.
Photo by MyPlate.gov
Claim: Per capita: The US drinks 9 times more milk than China
Did you know that there is currently a growing market demand for dairy products in China? My brother lives in China. He told me that if I want to get rich I need to increase U.S. dairy exports to China because everyone WANTS them. Dairy products used to be more popular there, but high prices, poor refrigeration, and limited production capacities made it difficult for the Chinese to have a consistent dairy supply. However, China has come a long way in advancing their technologies including improved pasteurization capabilities, better transportation and refrigeration methods, better feeding systems and management practices on the farm, and stronger genetics among the cows. In fact, milk production doubled from 1996 to 2002, and I expect that it will continue to increase exponentially over the next few decades.
Claim: Average dairy consumption: 593 lbs per year; Average vegetable consumption: 428 lbs per year
MyPlate recommends Americans to consume 2.5 cups of vegetables/day and 3 cups of milk/day. So, yes, it makes sense that we have a slightly higher consumption of dairy/year than we do vegetables/year. But did you know that many Americans are not getting enough calcium?
Claim: …but drinking milk is not natural
Says who? We have been drinking milk since the beginning of time. It’s referenced in the Bible many times. If you don’t believe that the Bible is real, fine; we still have been drinking milk for hundreds of years! We also choose to roast pumpkin seeds, pick coconuts off of trees, and sometimes we (NOT me) even suck the juices out of lobster antennae. We are humans. We are intelligent beings. We are far more intelligent than you may even realize. And we have learned, over many years, how to improve our genes and subsequently pass those genes on to future generations. It’s called “survival of the fittest,” and quite frankly, we wouldn’t still be drinking cow’s milk today if it wasn’t beneficial to our offspring.
Claim: Consider this: 4% of adults have food allergies.
Well, this sure is a vague statement! My best friend is allergic to peanuts. I bet she also fits into this 4% food allergy category? Oh, and another friend is allergic to chocolate. She must fit into that category as well! Some people are indeed lactose-intolerant, and many of your favorite dairy companies produce tasty low-lactose or lactose-free options just for you! Although it is important to mention that there are many misconceptions about what lactose intolerance really is.
Claim: Cow’s milk is also the number one cause of food allergies among infants and children
I’m sorry; why are we not feeding infants human breast milk or formula?! Of course, if you try to feed an infant ANYTHING other than human breast milk they may not react positively…their body is only used to human breast milk at this very young age. Just like baby calves can only be fed their mothers’ milk until they reach a certain age and their stomachs become more developed and ready to digest grasses. We need to wean them, just like we need to wean our children to any new foods. We can’t consume human breast milk or formula forever.
Unless we are talking about allergies in older children. In this case, realize that allergies in children can be outgrown. I was allergic to pollen and straw/hay/dust when I was a child. It was terrible! I couldn’t even go outside in the summer…and don’t even get me started about walking into the barn when straw was being thrown around! End point: I grew out of it. And now I can stuff my face with flowers, no problem.
Claim: And a whopping 33% of American adults are lactose intolerant
Many misconceptions are circulating about lactose intolerance, so I am going to help to clear those up. Lactose is the natural sugar in milk. Let me explain the difference between lactose intolerance and milk allergies. Intolerance means that after a person consumes dairy products with lactose amounts greater than his or her body is able to digest, sensitivity occurs. This is NOT an allergy, and low-lactose or lactose-free dairy products are available in many different brands and varieties for consumers with this need! Milk allergies are triggered by the immune system in reaction to milk protein. Also, can I please just point out the number of people who probably aren’t even mildly lactose intolerant but claim that they are? It’s for some reason a bizarre trend right now that I will never understand.
Claim: Lactose intolerant statistics
Some people DO have lactose intolerance. However, I personally find it low and racist that you use lactose intolerance statistics among ethnic groups to boost your anti-dairy agenda. I’m going to let the expert handle this one…Here are some words of wisdom from a pretty smart guy in the field: “Primary lactase deficiency is common. However, the incidence varies according to ethnicity and is related to the use of dairy products in the diet. In populations consuming a predominantly “dairy” diet, such as Northern Europeans, the incidence of primary lactase deficiency is low compared to that in Hispanic, Asian, or African American children. Even these children should be able to tolerate small amounts of milk or other dairy products, which is important for bone health and development” -Jatinder J.S. Bhatia, M.D., FAAP (Professor and Chief at Section of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics: Medical College of Georgia). If you have more questions about lactose intolerance, check out this article by the National Dairy Council.
You hear that? Everyone can digest dairy in small amounts. And we ALL need dairy to be healthy. Plus, don’t forget about low lactose and lactose free dairy options.
Claim: Only 13.1% of American adults don’t drink milk
Good! That means that 86.9% of American adults value the importance of drinking milk! I hope that more Americans will think about introducing milk back into their diets. I also hope that they will give their children the option of drinking milk. Did you know that the government has reported that only 5% of girls and 25% of boys ages 9-13 get the calcium that their body needs? Milk is the most important source of calcium in the food supply.
Claim: And cows get the raw end of the deal: In 1970 one cow produced 9,700 lbs of milk. Now one cow produces 19,000 lbs of milk/Average milk yields by year/How are cows producing more milk?
Well, let me see here. I can think of at least twenty different reasons off of the top of my head that explain why cows are producing more milk now than they did in the 1970’s, but I’m sure that no one wants to listen to me ramble all day long (If you do, please let me know and I will gladly personally do that for you. I really like to talk. Especially about dairy. Duh). So I’ll just give you a few reasons here:
#1: Cows are producing more milk today than they did in the 1950’s because animal scientists and universities have done extensive research on ways to improve everything that happens day-to-day on the farm. This is why farms may not look quite the same today as they did in the 1950’s when there were little red barns on top of hills. Which brings me to point #2….
#2: Farms have better resources and technologies today than they had in the 1950’s. One example is the milking machine! Milking machines allow farmers to milk their cows using technology, rather than using their hands. It would take all day long to milk cows by hand! And cows naturally need to be milked twice per day. Milking cows by hand would be really rough on their teats. To the ladies reading this: I don’t know about you, but I sure wouldn’t like someone tugging on my teats all day long (there, I said it!) The milking machines are very gentle on the cows’ teats, and they also help to prevent disease or infection because they are cleaned before each cow comes in to be milked!
#3: Healthier Cows = Higher Milk Production. Farmers work very closely with their veterinarians to prevent and treat any sicknesses. Cows getting sick is a serious matter that farmers and veterinarians do not take lightly. In conventional dairy, when a cow sadly becomes sick, we NEED to treat her. We like happy cows. And happy cows produce lots of high-quality, wholesome milk.
#4: Better Diet = Higher Milk Production. Dairy farmers work with dairy nutritionists to formulate a specific diet for each cow group, to ensure that the girls are getting all of the nutrients that they need in order to stay healthy and happy. For example, a pregnant cow needs to be fed a different diet than a cow who is in her teenage years or a cow that is just trying to maintain her body weight for growth. Calves are fed even different diets! They are the special babies. Some farmers even put collars on their cows to help monitor what each individual cow is eating. This way, he or she will know right away if a specific cow needs additional nutrients. A healthy and happy cow is a cow that produces milk. I repeat, unhappy cows will NOT let down healthy or productive amounts of milk. It is in a farmer’s best interest to feed his or her cows the best feed possible!
The U.S. has significantly fewer dairy cows today than we had in the 1950’s, yet we have significantly higher milk production today. That is a huge accomplishment because we require less cows, which in turn means that we need less land to grow feed for the cows…whiiiiiiich means that the dairy industry is more sustainable and efficient than we were in the 1950’s. The entire agricultural community only contributes to TWO PERCENT of carbon emissions. If that’s not sustainability, then I don’t know what is! The dairy industry is doing wonderful things, and I cannot wait to see the progress that we will continue to make in the future!
Claim: Cows doped on growth hormones produce 10 more pounds of milk per year. And the growth hormones go into your milk too
First, studies have been confirmed since 1993 showing that milk from cows treated with supplemental hormone rbsT is no different from milk from cows not treated with rbST; either way, it is the same wholesome product that we have been enjoying for generations! The FDA, the World Health Organization/Food and Agriculture Organization Committe, American Medical Association, and regulatory agencies in 50 countries agree.
Let me make sure I get this right; You’re suggesting that one cow that has been given a growth hormone produces TEN more pounds of milk per year than she would have produced if she had not been given the growth hormone? Well, since one cow produces about an average of 75 pounds of milk/day, that means she will produce about 27,375 pounds of milk/year. And you’re saying that an additional TEN pounds of milk production for that entire year is horrendous? Interesting.
Here is a brief background on why dairy farmers sometimes give their cows growth hormones, such as rbST: Cows naturally produce rbST in their bodies, but sometimes their internal hormones act strange so we need to give them a little help by giving a recommended amount of rBST. We are not introducing anything foreign into the cows’ bodies. Think of it like women and menstruation; some women get really bad cramps and therefore the doctor prescribes a birth control medication or some sort of hormone-regulator to help make her hormone levels more normal so that the woman can be herself. rbST simply helps cows to reach their full potentials.
As far as hormones transferring into your milk is concerned- ALL milk NATURALLY contains small amounts of hormones. So do your vegetables. Studied have shown that cows treated with rbST produce milk within the normal range for SAFE consumption. I love this blog post comparing hormones in beef to popular vegetables. One pound of beef that was given the hormone estradiol contains 15 THOUSAND times LESS estradiol than is produced DAILY by an average women. That hormone is like a little grain of sand on the beach within your system. (Yes, I know my blog post is about dairy, but it’s a great visual that will hopefully help you understand the concept that giving hormones to animals does not make the final product unsafe).
However, if you are looking for rbST-free products, there are PLENTY of options available at your local supermarket. Dairy companies provide these options because of market demand, NOT because of health or safety issues.
Claim: This growth hormone contains IGF-1 (insulin growth factor) which humans already have
IGF-1 is a naturally-occurring growth hormone in humans. It is present in all milk, whether the cows were given rbST or not, and it is safe. If a human consumes IGF-1, it is completely digested within the body because the IGF-1 from the milk would represent less than 1% of the amount that is already present within the intestines. That’s 1/1000th of the amount that the body NATURALLY produces. That’s like a grain of sand on the beach, folks. Therefore, consuming small amounts of it does not affect human health! The American Cancer Society states that there have been no direct comparisons of IGF-1 levels in people who drink cow’s milk from cows that were given rbST.
Claim: Increased IGF-1 is linked to early puberty in girls
All milk has the same composition, whether it be organic, regular, or rbST-free. One of the contributing factors to early puberty onset in females is MALNUTRITION. Which is in large part a result of the LACK of consumption of dairy products. Other reasons include chronic infections and illnesses. Check out Global Dairy Innovation for more information!
Claim: And men with increased levels of IGF1: 4X more likely to get prostate cancer
Research has shown that there is NO conclusive association between milk consumption and prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is often asscoiated with age, family history, and ethnicity.
Claim: Milk, it does a body harm.
NO. Just, no.
Claim: Milk has the same calorie load as soda.
Really? You’re comparing milk to soda. SODA, of all things? I find it rather depressing that I even have to spell out the differences between soda and milk. I would go grab a can of soda from my fridge to provide you with a firsthand observation but oh wait, I don’t drink soda. Just LOTS of milk…About 3-4 gallons/week to be exact. So, here is a chart from the USDA comparing the nutritional content of milk with soda. Sure, soda and milk may both have a relatively similar calorie count, but milk also contains NINE ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS: potassium, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-12, phosphorous, and calcium. Milk is the #1 food source of 3/4 of the nutrients that Americans are not getting enough of: calicum, vitamin D, and potassium. And did you know that legally, the only added ingredient to white milk is vitamins? Milk is truly the purest of all food sources.
Photo via dairymoos.com
Claim: In a study of 20 countries, high milk consumption meant higher rates of Type 1 diabetes and heart disease.
Interesting. Because I can name plenty of studies showing that dairy foods consumed as a part of a HEALTHY diet aid in bone health, improve diet quality, and may also reduce the risk of osteoporosis, hypertension, obesity, colon cancer and metabolic syndrome (conditions that can lead to heart disease and Type 2 diabetes). Want to see a study that suggest high-fat dairy is associated with a LOWER risk of obesity? Here you go!! Oh, and here’s another one. That’s right, current research shows that a whole fat dairy diet is healthy!
Protein is an essential part of the human diet, and milk is an excellent source. Nutrition research shows that protein helps maintain muscle mass when aging or losing weight, as well as promotes satiety and exercise recovery (especially chocolate milk!)
Here is a great article, describing several studies that show the many benefits of milk!
Claim: One serving of 2% milk has the same saturated fat count as a serving of french fries.
If you don’t like milkfat, pick a low fat or fat free option! Milk is available in many different varieties and flavors to meet your family’s needs. I personally prefer 2% milkfat. Chocolate milk is the best (and tastiest!) milk to drink after exercise because it has the ideal carbohydrate to protein ratio for ultimate refueling and rehydrating of the muscles and body.
A recent study comparing results of the consumption of high protein or high soy protein breakfast drinks was performed on obese adults for 20 weeks. The adults who consumed the dairy breakfast drinks lost significantly more abdominal fat (total of 20% loss) than those who consumed the soy drinks. The researchers suggest that protein and calcium in milk played active roles in this weight loss among milk drinkers.
The key is that we should be eating overall HEALTHY diets. It’s okay to drink whole milk. It’s okay for your children to drink higher-fat content chocolate milk. Everything is about moderation and making sure that your overall diet is healthy. Because if you eat cheeseburgers and french fries every day with your milk, well that’s not an overall healthy diet. You should still be eating lots of yummy fruits and veggies along with your milk!
Claim: Women who upped lactose intake equal to one glass of milk per day: 13% more likely to get ovarian cancer
Current evidence does not support any association between milk consumption adn an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Factors likely contributing to ovarian cancer include: age, personal history of cancer, family history of cancer, and never being pregnant. The World Cancer Research Fund showed in a 2007 study that there was NO association between milk consumption and increased risk of ovarian cancer. If you would like examples of more studies, click here.
Claim: So the next time you have a bowl of cereal and your only option is cow’s milk, eat it dry. You’ll be doing your body a favor.
Like, I said before: No thank you! Milk is wholesome, nutritious, safe, and of course- delicious! I would never give up my healthiest food source. (In fact, I don’t think that I would survive if I was stranded on a desert island and there were no cows. Coconut milk just wouldn’t cut it for me). Milk is nature’s most PURE food source available, and it is also the most nutritious! It contains nine essential nutrients that your body needs in order to stay healthy. Milk is also available in diverse options to meet your family’s needs- whole milkfat, 2%, 1%, skim, as well as chocolate and strawberry flavors. If you are lactose-intolerant, have no fear! Many dairy farms provide milk for low lactose or lactose free products, to be easily digested by lactose-intolerant individuals.
I think it’s pretty obvious that this infographic is inaccurate. Milk is truly an exceptional gift from nature! We have been drinking it since the beginning of time, and I sincerely hope that you will continue drinking milk in your home; I know that dairy will be a very valuable aspect of my dinner table when I have a family someday. Milk is important for your health and well-being, and at a mere 25 cents per glass, you really can’t get any better than that! So let’s share the love, share the health, and share the MILK!
PS THE FARM BILL PASSED LAST WEEK!!!! (See below post to understand why I am so excited)