Tag Archives: dairy

Food Doesn’t Come from Grocery Stores. It Comes from Farmers.

While working at a farmers market in New Jersey, a person once asked me about the special enzyme that cows have in order to produce chocolate milk. I laughed, thinking that it was a pretty funny joke. Then I realized that she was being completely serious.

After growing up into agriculture in the (great state of) Wisconsin, I moved to the East Coast for college and five years later I am still out here- currently in Washington, D.C., with dreams of making a positive difference in agriculture to support our country’s farmers.  In Wisconsin, I never seemed to have to worry about consumers not understanding where their food came from or hearing them attack conventional agriculture. Maybe that was because I grew up in a rural area, as a part of a farming family, and a lot of my 4-H friends (hey guys, shout-out time!) were farmers. Or maybe it was because Wisconsin is America’s Dairyland, with the dairy industry being a $59 billion industry for the state and most people seem to be obsessed with beer (Spotted Cow, anyone?!) and cheese, which both rely on farmers to create the primary ingredients for. Or maybe it’s because times are changing, the media is becoming more influential in society and confusing buzzwords like “organic,” “free-range” and “all-natural” are dominating the supermarket shelves. It wasn’t until I moved to college and focused on the study of agriculture in a (very liberal, I might add) community, that I realized how unaware the public actually is about where their food comes from. Now, I’m not saying that Wisconsinites are more aware than residents of other states about where their food comes from, but from my experiences living in or near large cities such as Philadelphia, New York City and Washington, D.C., and also from attending universities with extremely diverse populations, I can attest that a large proportion of those individuals have not experienced the farming lifestyle that may be more accessible to people living in rural communities. That’s why I think it’s so important for people to visit their local farms and meet the families that produce their food, even if it’s a bit of a drive. Many farmers would love to share what their family does every day to support our country’s food supply.

Besides the chocolate milk story, I can share countless examples of crazy things that people have said to me involving agriculture. And it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized how legitimate of a problem it is that consumers are generations-removed from farming, and as a result many have never even stepped foot on a farm. As I mentioned previously, the public is often misled by the media, health trends and large organizations/companies with anti-agriculture hidden (or very visibly prominent) agendas. People, who often don’t know the truth, believe that conventional farming is destructive. They believe that conventional farming is inhumane. And they believe that conventionally-produced food is unhealthy. I want to change this perception. I STRIVE to change this perception. Why? Because when I step foot in a grocery store, I know that my food doesn’t come from the grocery store; it comes from farmers. And 97% of the farms those farmers work on are family-owned and operated. I think that is a shocker to a lot of people because they think that the only way to support family farmers is by purchasing locally-produced or organic foods. I can see how it may be confusing to be able to buy our food from so many different types of farms, with so many different types of buzz words describing our foods. And there are advantages to each type of farming method- whether it is conventional, organic, etc. But I just don’t think that enough people truly understand what is involved with each type of farming and as a result, many people choose to buy certain foods for the wrong reasons. So let me share with you the facts, based on my education and experiences within agriculture, about the various types of farming that exist today.

My goal with this blog post is to help clear up some of the predominant misconceptions about farming, not to persuade you to choose one style over another. But do you know what is really awesome? This is the United States of America. We are fortunate enough to live in a free country that gives our people the right to choose to buy whatever foods we desire. And at the end of the day, farmers are all farmers, and they all wake up early every morning to put food on your family’s table.

Conventional farming:

This is where the title of my blog post fits in. I feel that many consumers struggle to understand where the food that they are purchasing from at the grocery store actually comes from, because they are often not able to put a face to the farmer who produces it. The media does not help this disconnect by amplifying destructive words like “factory farms,” etc. I would like to share some information with you about the type of farming that feeds our country and world, conventional farming. This type of farming seems the most confusing to consumers because many have not grown up in agriculture or even visited a farm. They often picture a few animals running around outside in the grass, with no worry or care in the world! In that same picture, those farms are tiny, have little red barns on top of a hill, and are owned by families. Farms are still family-owned, but they don’t look quite like this anymore for a number of legitimate reasons. I’m going to talk a bit about the dairy industry, and help you to understand what a conventional dairy farm today looks like.    

Dairy farmers often house their calves in free-style barns. These barns are large open spaces that allow individual cows to roam around and lay down wherever they want, and eat/drink whenever they want. There are individual stalls in the barns to ensure that no cow is left out of a place to lay down or is denied access to feed. Because, just like humans, there can be some “bully” or “alpha” cows who sometimes would like to fight their way to the feed trough when the farmer brings fresh feed for the group. Cows are not raised outside solely on pasture. This is for valid reasons. Winters can be extremely harsh and summers can be scorchingly (I think I just made that word up because my computer put a little red line under it…oh well) hot. Additionally, there are bugs and predators outside! Cows purely on pasture often acquire parasites, and that is just not pleasant or healthy for the cows. Barns provide cows with the ability to stay warm/cool and comfortable during all times of the year, with equal access to feed and water. Many farms use high-tech sprinkler systems and fans to keep their cows cool in the summertime. Some farms also have really cool cow “toys” like large spinning brushes that scratch their backs. Man, sometimes I wish that I was a cow.

These dairy farms also use antibiotics. But not for the reasons you may think. Farmers do NOT use antibiotics for no reason at all! They use them when their animals become sick, just like we treat our children (okay, not me…I don’t have children and I am as single as a slice of Kraft’s American cheese) when they are sick. I personally would never be able to just let a sick cow suffer when I have the ability to help her become happy and healthy again. Farmers love their cows. ALL MILK, let me repeat that, ALL MILK from cows that have been administered antibiotics is dumped down the drain!!!! After a cow is given antibiotics, there is a withdrawal period, as recommended by the USDA, FDA and veterinarians, that the farmer must follow. They are not allowed to have that milk enter the supply for human consumption UNTIL that withdrawal period has been reached. Additionally, ALL MILK is tested numerous times for any traces of anything unsafe. After testing, if the milk is by any means considered unsafe, the ENTIRE milk supply must be dumped down the drain. That milk supply often consists of milk from many different farms, but the one farm responsible for contaminating the milk would be responsible for the cost of that total supply. What farmer wants to lose money? I can’t think if any. It is in a farmer’s best interest to ensure that the practices on his or her farm are top-notch. The industry’s regulations and standards help to ensure that as well.

Genetically modified organisms. GMOs. Biotechnology. Whatever you want to refer to it as. Conventional farmers use them. But did you know that farmers of all kinds have been genetically-modifying their foods for centuries? Gregor Mendel used the Punnett Square to create hybrid crosses of his pea plants. We use GMOs because they are a safe, sustainable way to feed our country. In fact, no significant scientific evidence has been found to prove that GMOs are unsafe. Basically everything that we eat has been genetically-modified in some manner. After hundreds of years of using them in various forms, we are still alive and here on this earth. GMOs also allow farmers to use fewer pesticides/herbicides on their crops because a GMO corn crop, for instance, may be genetically-modified to resist insects or weeds. Another great quality of GMOs is that they have led to extra-healthy foods like golden rice, which has higher vitamin A and helps combat the deficiency that is common in children. Let’s also think long-term. By the year 2050, the world is going to expand from 7.2 to 9.6 billion. We are going to have a heck of a lot more people to feed, and GMOs will help our farmers to do that in a safe and sustainable manner as the climate changes and the land becomes more difficult to farm on.

Animal abuse happens sometimes. It also happens on organic farms. On big farms. On small farms. It occasionally does happen, and I am not going to try to hide that. Do you know where else abuse happens? It happens in all areas of this country when a man leaves his dog in the hot car with the windows closed for an extended period of time during the summer. Or when a woman neglects or drops her baby. It happens when people refuse to feed their children. It happens when a person beats his significant other/spouse. Rape. Would you look at the human race and say “we are such abusive creatures?” I would hope not. Just like with people, we can’t generalize and use one instance of animal abuse to represent the entire industry. Plus, there are many standards in place on farms to make sure that animal abuse does not happen. Workers are trained, some farms have internal video cameras and the government does not take abuse lightly. If animal abuse happens, there is extreme punishment for the employees engaging in it. And those farms are usually dropped from selling their products to their providing companies. So, please, before you use animal abuse as a reason to not support farmers, realize that it’s NOT representative of the entire industry.

I could talk about dairy farming all day long, but I think that I provided you with enough knowledge for one blog post. If you have any additional questions about conventional farming please let me know. I would be happy to provide more information for you. My point here is that farming may look different today than it did many years ago. However, the farmers producing our food are the same types of families that produced our food years ago. Farmers simply have more scientific research today, helping them to practice the most humane, sustainable and efficient methods possible. If you visit a farm and see these practices firsthand, you will begin to understand. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people told me that they refused to eat food from “factory farms.” Truth is, those farms aren’t factories at all. They are FAMILY FARMERS who strive to help our country by applying the best methods possible to humanely raise their animals and sustainably feed our country. And they are constantly looking for new ways to improve their farming techniques and how to help their animals be the happiest that they can be. Take, for example, Rob-in-Cin Farms in West Bend, Wisconsin. Owned by Bob and Cindy Roden and family, the farm milks 400 Holstein dairy cows. Here is a picture of Rick Roden being followed by a silly calf! rick

Organic farming:

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s definition, organic food is “food grown and processed using no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.” A HUGE misconception in organic farming is that many consumers believe that organic farming does not use pesticides. That is a myth. Organic farmers, legally, DO use pesticides. These organically-produced pesticides are used to reduce unwanted pests from the fields in which crops are grown. And, contrary to public belief, many of these pesticides have been scientifically shown to be more harmful to human health than pesticides that farmers use.

 In organic farming practices, farmers are NOT permitted to treat their animals with antibiotics. On farms with animals, this means that farmers and veterinarians are not able to treat sick cows, pigs, chickens, etc. If they do treat them with antibiotics, the animals must be sold to a conventional farm, slaughtered or no longer considered organic. I’ve seen organic farms in which farmers do not treat their sick cows and have them no longer be organic, so the cows remain sick. I’m not saying that this is representative of organic farming, but it is something to consider when choosing to buy organic solely because you may think that it is better to refrain from antibiotic-use.

Another reason many consumers choose to purchase organic foods is because they think that those foods are healthier than their conventional counterparts. However, no significant scientific evidence has suggested that that is true.  There is no nutritional difference between organic and conventionally-produced foods.

Additionally, I’ve heard friends suggest that they only eat organic foods because they are more humane and are produced by family farmers. I’m going to assume that those same people view family farms are tiny little farms on the top of a hill, with a little red barn, and a few cows frolicking through the grass in the sunshine. Let’s sit back and think about that for a minute. Do you honestly think that because a food in the grocery store has the word “organic” on its label, it has been produced by your next-door farming neighbor? Because that organic food has most likely been produced by a farmer half-way across the country, with just as many cows (or whatever the animal may be…I’m in the dairy field, so I tend to be a bit biased towards relating things to the dairy industry) as the products made from its conventional counterparts. In fact, if you were to visit an organic farm, you’ll see that it doesn’t look very different from a conventional farm.

Just a few years ago, organic farming wasn’t really even much of a thing in the United States. But now you can find organic products in most supermarkets. It is a brilliant business tactic for farms to go the organic route, and I commend those farmers for making the switch because it isn’t easy to do. But a lot of people buy organic foods because they think those foods are better for the environment, more humane, safer and healthier. You can choose to believe whatever you want and purchase organic if that makes you happy, but I think it is important to really just think about the misconceptions before making that financial commitment. Because let’s be honest, organic foods are freaking expensive. And as a poor graduate student who basically eats noodles and milk for every meal, I cannot afford organic prices. If you can afford organic foods, good for you.

Supporting Local Farms:

There are a few key points that I want to cover here. First, as I’ve mentioned before, I think that it is extremely important for consumers to get to know farmers. A great way to do this is to visit your local farms and learn how they work hard every day to produce your food. Many farmers invite people out to their farms for activities like pumpkin picking or dairy breakfasts. I am also a big fan of farmers markets, farm-stores and CSAs because they allow consumers to buy their food firsthand from the very people who produce their food. Farmers markets are also very beneficial in building local economies. I worked for a farm and managed the sales of our products at about 12-15 various farmers markets on a weekly basis. They are fun to attend, both for the farmer and also for the customers. However, farmers markets are NOT going to feed our country, and definitely not our world. Producing and selling food only on the local level is NOT the most sustainable or efficient method of farming. For example, an organic farmer only produces about 80% of the food that the same size conventional farm produces. Here is a great blog that breaks down the organic myths. Additionally, a family may travel three hours weekly to buy their vegetables, dairy and meat from a local farmer. Let’s say you have 200 families in a certain area traveling that distance. That’s 200 cars traveling a great distance for its weekly food. Conversely, if you have one semi-truck transporting 200,000 cartons of eggs across the country, well in the long-term that’s just more sustainable (side note: I made those numbers up for example purposes, but it should paint the picture for you). Plus, did you know that agriculture only contributes to 2% of our nation’s carbon emissions? Ladies and gentlemen, that is what sustainability looks like.

This was hopefully a helpful, comprehensive background about today’s most common agricultural practices. Again, like I said before, you can develop your own opinions about various types of farms and base your purchasing decisions upon them. But before you make those decisions, be sure that you know all sides of the story and understand the misconceptions about agriculture and WHY they are misconceptions. When looking for sources, make sure those sources are not biased and present you with factual information. And before you judge a farmer or style of farming, please just put whatever your bias may be ASIDE, visit a farm and experience firsthand why farmers do things the way that they do. I truly believe that farmers are some of the most hard-working, environmentally-conscious, innovative, entrepreneurial and technologically-advanced people in society- no matter what type of farming they have decided to pursue. Who else wakes up at 4 A.M. to milk cows, feed/water animals, plant crops, bale hay, fix a broken tractor, check in with the veterinarian, help an animal give birth and then make it to their child’s after-school activities, all before going to bed by 10pm and then doing it all over again the next day? So next time you are at the grocery store and picking up your meat, eggs, dairy, pasta or whatever it may be: Just take a few seconds to remind yourself that your food was made with care, by a farmer, who probably has a family to take care of just like yours. And without those farmers, we wouldn’t be here today. God Bless America.

I know that I’ve shared this picture before, but I think that it perfectly captures my message. This is my grandparents’ farm in Wisconsin…

farm

XO MollsyMoo

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Got Milk? Throw it Away:” NO THANK YOU! But I’ll Gladly Throw Away your Infographic

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.

myplate

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.

milkvssoda2

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!

-MollsyMoo

PS THE FARM BILL PASSED LAST WEEK!!!! (See below post to understand why I am so excited)

nationalmilkday14

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Pilot

Family and friends have encouraged me for the past year to create a blog for sharing my “this-would-only-ever-happen-to-Molly” moments, because apparently the awkward situations that occur in my life on a regular basis are relatively humorous. Thus, I have spent the past year contemplating on not only a name for my blog, but also what I shall write about in my entries. Because, come on, I am not literally going to bore you with stories about my everyday activities. I need to write about something deeper, something tangible. But who in their right mind would ever want to read what I have to say?!

It’s not rocket science to know that social media plays an integral role in society, with many viewers gaining knowledge from the 74839020883893 bloggers, tweeters, Facebookers, blah blahh blahhh on the Internet (side note: please do not cite me on that number). And then I got to thinking… This social-media indulged society creates a grand opportunity for me to make a difference, an actual difference, in a subject that I truly care about. And what exactly is it that I would like more than anything to make a difference in? DAIRY. Yes; cows, milk, cheese, farming, agriculture. BOOM, all of it. Agriculture drives this world, and we would not survive without it. Everyone who knows me can attest that I am an enthusiastic, dairy-obsessed individual who thrives on sharing my experiences and knowledge with each and every person that I happen to cross paths with. I grew up in the dairy industry, and I have dedicated my career to supporting it, through policy and communication (I’ll share more about my life goals- pssshhttt make that PLANS…the sky is the limit- in a later blog post).

Maybe only a few people will read my blog posts towards the beginning, but if I am making a difference in just one person’s life, then I have succeeded. I plan to expand my blog through time, ultimately existing as an entertaining resource for educating consumers, creating discussions on current happenings in agriculture, and providing answers to dairy-related questions.

So. This was my first blog entry. I promise that the next one will be much more interesting…! Stay tuned, and stay cheesy.

SN850014_2_2_2

-MollsyMoo

Tagged ,