Wednesday, April 8, 2009

To milk or not to milk?

I know a lot of families drink cow's milk without ever considering the choices. I, however, have thought long and hard about the role of cow's milk in our home. I use it to bake and cook. I currently put it on my cereal on the rare occasions I eat cereal. As I have written in the past, "while some people tout the benefits of cow’s milk, we consume it sparingly, and do not use it as a “cure all” food. In other words, we get the vitamins and minerals from other foods, so cow’s milk is not used to fill the gaps." A carton of milk often times goes bad before we can drink or use it all. We do eat some cheese, but not nearly as much and are slowly phasing it out.
So-- why take this position on milk? Here's the long and the short of it-- in bullets. I'm in a bullet type of mood.
  • Cow's milk is designed for baby cows. Often times, while we drink cow's milk, the baby cow gets formula.
  • Yes, cow's milk is used in the production of human infant formula, and infants do need milk. For us, that means breastfeeding until The Boy is ready to stop-- physically and emotionally. This also means that when he weans, he no longer needs any milk.
  • Breastfeeding in to toddlerhood prevented the need to "fill the gaps" with cow's milk. The Boy got what he needed from me (and still does). We do not use a vitamin for The Boy, but I do take one. To balance The Boy's nutrition needs (really all of ours), we will be starting to drink green smoothies this summer (and all year once started). It's really easy, and The Boy will be able to help.
  • Mucus, mucus and more mucus!
  • Cow's milk inhibits our ability to tune in to our bodies. I know some will say I am crazy for this one, but hear me out. Milk is a "filler" food containing vegetables, nutrients, etc that have been processed through the cow and passed on in the milk. When we drink milk, our bodies are fooled in to believing we have enough of the nutrients, but we are still missing the "other stuff" those foods provide to our bodies (i.e. fiber, etc). As a result, the body says you do not need to eat your vegetables when in fact, you need additional benefits that raw (or cooked) vegetables provide.
  • Cow milk production has a high environmental impact, and the difference between organic and conventional milk is small when it comes to its life-cycle. Add in hormones and anti-biotics... no thank you!
It is our preference, for these reasons and more to forgo the cow's milk as much as possible. What about you? Do you drink cow's milk? Why or why not?


dulce de leche said...

Great post! My oldest two were allergic to dairy (even trace amounts in my diet while breastfeeding) so we were completely dairy-free for a year and a half. Everyone can tolerate it now, and I admit that I love cheese, but I agree with the points you made.

Bethany said...

my views on milk have changed a bunch since reading Skinny Bitch. We are dairy free, but I don't feel bad about Parker not drinking cows milk anymore. We eat cheese....I love cheese! If be wants milk when Morgan has a glass that is fine, but I don't give it to him. I have also tried giving him a vitamin bit he won't take it.

Solange said...

My favorite green smoothie is a mix of kale, pears and mint. I'd avoid berries in your smoothies, because the reds and blues mix with the green to make a very unappealing brown. Avocado can help make any green smoothie creamy. I also wouldn't suggest adding chilies to them...reap the benefits of my experimentation. :)
Growing up, we were the only family I knew of that didn't drink milk. My parents have always believed that it wasn't the way to good health. I've been milk-free (except a tablespoon or so of half and half in my coffee) for two years now. My general feeling of health vastly improved almost immediately. And now, I'm eating more and more raw, whole foods...the benefits are completely apparent. Good luck with The Boy, and congratulations on your constant search to provide the best for him!

Jessica - This Is Worthwhile said...

Ah dairy... it's so complicated, yet, not. Why would we drink another mammal's milk? A thousand years ago (or whenever it was BEFORE we got the great idea to drink a cow's milk) I bet we would have thought it a crazy idea.

I have a complicated relationship with it myself. I'm lactose intolerant, but love all things cheesy. I use lactose-free milk in cooking, but for drinking we use soy (juice?) milk. I'm also not crazy about how the cows are treated (poor girls).

Melodie said...

Most parents I know introduce cow's milk at 12 mos. Even the ones who breastfeed - just because the local health unit recommends it. I thought it was a pretty dumb idea if you're still breastfeeding so I never introduced it. But we do eat dairy. Not milk (because I personally don't like it and see how some people and kids go ga-ga over it and "abuse" it) but plain yogurt and cheese and ice cream we do eat. Now my daughters get a glass of milk from my Grandma when we go to visit and they get really excited because it's something new, and they take one sip and that's the end of t. My Grandma can't understand it. But it's because we are an extended breastfeeding family. I'm sure of it.
Great post! Good food for thought!

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