Milk: friend or foe?

Sense and nonsense of food
PostedSeptember 25, 2013, in  Step 0: go / no go
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Almost all Dutch have grown up with it: every day a cold glass of milk. Good for the bones because of the calcium. Partly for this reason the Dutch government recommended it to us through the Voedingscentrum (Nutrition Centre). Companies and governments agree: milk fits into a healthy diet. But is that really the case?

Illustration Ivo van Leeuwen

Create demand

About 40 years ago the major European agricultural subsidies gave the Dutch dairy farmers a powerful incentive. These subsidies resulted in a serious increase of milk production, without any demand for it. Exports went up, but our internal market was not overlooked and through targeted campaigns the public was made aware of the importance of milk. With success …  

Growth hormones and antibiotics

From the 1930s onwards the importance of milk was firmly being anchored in the collective consciousness of the Dutch people: ‘Milk is good for everyone.’ And European subsidies of the 70s put a new set of promotional campaigns in operation. But from 1984 milk quotas were introduced to reduce production again, but by then it was too late: milk had become popular. Also unfortunate because more and more chemicals were found in milk, including growth hormones and antibiotics. In addition, milk is full of saturated fats, increasing the risk of heart disease. For men, moreover, there is also an increased risk of prostate cancer, according to Professor Walter Willet of Harvard University.

Cowgirl (Wikimediacommons, source: Nationaal Archief)

Baby Milk

‘Milk has lost it's innocence’, according to Professor Willet. Several times already this was painfully confirmed in China by the discovery of contaminated baby milk powder. This resulted in a lack of confidence in their local products, creating a high demand for foreign milk powder with extortionate prices as the consequence. A product for the most vulnerable as a plaything for profit seeking companies.  Innocence is hard to find indeed.  

Positive effects?

The critical readers might ask themselves what about the positive effects of milk: milk is still good for the bones? Granted: calcium is indeed good for the bones, but still most fractures occur in countries where milk is drunk. Exercise and specifically vitamin D are much better tools. Indeed: the vitamin that you get from the sun. The message is clear: build your bones under the Spanish, Greek or Turkish sun. Much healthier than a glass of milk.

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PostedSeptember 25, 2013, in Step 0: go / no go
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