By: Lucas Plamann
About a year ago I came across on article on Facebook, one that we as dairy producers really don’t want to see; “Why you shouldn’t drink milk”. Furious before even reading the article, I followed the link, and to my disappointment, it was promoted by a well-known healthy living magazine. As I read further and further into the article, I couldn’t help but question the credibility of this writer. I was also certain that the closest this columnist had been to a farm was via computer screen and her pal Google.
As you may have noticed in my first article, I pretty well set the tone for how I feel about supporting agriculture. So of course a knee-jerk reaction would have been to call this writer out on how misinformed and far-fetched I thought she was. Her article made claims of pus, manure, hormones and other antibiotics being active ingredients in the tall glass of milk we enjoy. Another claim was that we humans are the only mammals to continue to drink milk after adolescence. Along with her claims of every cow being “injected with antibiotics” she suggests a laundry list of “alternative resources” to receive the nutrition available in milk.
I decided to do some further research of my own. Being actively involved around dairy farming, I knew her additives and antibiotics claims to be false since even if they did end up in milk, on a truck, the milk would be discarded, regardless, due to sampling of every truck at every creamery. What really intrigued me were those diet substitutes for milk, which is hard to wrap your head around, because milk, is nature’s most perfect and complete beverage. Some of her recommendations were to eat fish, nuts, and other nondairy products like almond and rice milk.
I was shocked to find the amount of the substitutes you would need to consume to get the same nutritional value of an 8 oz glass of milk. There are 300 mg of calcium in one 8 oz serving of skim milk. So if you take her advice into consideration and let’s say eat fish instead, an 8 oz serving of salmon only contains 21 mg of calcium. You would need to consume fourteen 8 oz servings of salmon to get the same amount of calcium from one 8 oz glass of milk. That’s forty-two 8 oz servings just to meet the daily requirements of 1,000 mg of calcium! Sure sounds a lot easier to drink just three glasses of milk doesn’t it? Not to mention being WAY cheaper! Another dairy friendly option is yogurt. An 8 oz serving of plain skim milk yogurt has 450 mg of calcium; and 1 oz of cheddar cheese contains 200 mg of calcium.
There are many healthy dairy options to milk which are easily accessible, and yet innumerable people every day aren’t getting the proper nutrition because they are scared away by misinformation on the nutritional value of dairy products. It is estimated that a person dies of of hunger related issues every 10 seconds, sadly it is children who die most;1 million children die each year from hunger related issues.
We have the capability to provide solutions to these problems! We need to continue public education on true facts about the dairy industry in order to discredit false claims. The promotion of healthy and nutritious dairy products is a detrimental part ensuring consumers of the hard work and care farmers do every day to produce quality products.
For me, a dairy advocate, the choice of getting nutrition from dairy products is simple. As an industry, we need to persevere in educating consumers on the facts of the goodness of dairy products, so that their choice is simple as well.