A new documentary, Got the facts on Milk?, now available on DVD, answers the question unequivocally: Milk is BAD for everyone.
Got the facts on Milk? is the work of filmaker Shira Lane whose dairy allergy prompted her to examine the scientific research on the subject. Apparently she did not find satisfactory answers to her questions. So she made a movie:
On her month-long, 4600-mile journey from Los Angeles to Washington DC through the American Southwest and Bible Belt, she interviewed top doctors and researchers, dietitians, dairy farmers, veterinarians, parents, teachers, and plenty of “ordinary Americans” who provide both comic relief and food for thought.
The movie contends that the political and financial power of the dairy industry have done a great disservice to millions of Americans. She brings research on the connection between dairy consumption and cancer, osteoporosis, weight gain, asthma, acne, hormones, early menstruation, as well as the prevalence of lactose intolerance in African Americans, Asian Americans and Indigenous Americans.
According to Lane:
“Having a lifelong dairy allergy has forced me to learn how to read food labels and ask questions in restaurants, and the more research I did, the more passionate I became,” said Lane. “I would have wanted my parents to watch this film when I was growing up and I hope the information helps others.”
We asked Dr. Greg Miller, executive vice president of science and research for the National Dairy Council, to address the claim that most people’s bodies can’t cope with milk and that the dairy industry is doing more harm than good to a millions of people not of North European descent. His response:
The “Got the Facts on Milk” film has been on our radar for a while. The filmmakers contacted USDA and National Dairy Council (NDC) during the process of making the film in 2007. The National Dairy Council’s Isabel Maples, M.Ed., R.D., conducted an hour-long interview and found that the filmmakers were not interested in a balanced portrayal of the subjects at hand.
While the dairy critics in the film are entitled to their theories, they are clearly more focused on advancing their vegan agenda than the full scope of scientific research that supports dairy’s role in a healthy diet. (See recent studies here and here on low-fat dairy’s role in preventing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, respectively.
Government and public health organizations around the globe encourage daily consumption of dairy foods to promote good health and help prevent disease. This includes the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the Surgeon General, the National Institutes of Health and many other leading health organizations.
People should look to their personal physician and health care providers for science-based guidance on preventing and treating any type of disease.
According to the filmmakers, Miller refused to be interviewed for the documentary.
Clearly there are two camps here, each citing research and science to suit their needs. So what are as consumers supposed to decide? Should we consume dairy or stay away?
Here are a few things to think about:
1. There is a huge surplus of milk being manufactured in the US today. The surplus has been around for 90 years! This has lead to some of the most creative (and expensive) promotional campaigns ever to get people to consume more milk and dairy.
2. The movie claims that 75% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant and therefore should not consume milk. If you are lactose intolerant, your body cannot breakdown the lactose in the milk. It may cause a whole slew of side effects from bloating to diarrhea, nausea, cramps, headaches, or worse.
3. Portraying milk as causing disease and not nourishing for an entire population is taking it too far. Humans in Northern Europe mutated to enable milk consumption after weaning several millennia ago and have thrived ever since. Their offspring can thrive with milk today. Milk is not the cause of all this country’s ailments and obesity.
4. Aside from milk, there are other ways to build strong bones. Other sources of calcium are vegetables. Entire countries in Asia consume little to no dairy and yet have no more issues with osteoporosis than dairy consuming countries.
5. Maybe some of the reported problems with dairy are not because of milk, but due to milk processing today compared to 50 years ago? What are the cows eating today compared to what they ate several generations ago? What hormones and antibiotics are they getting injected with? How do factory farm conditions affect what goes into the milk?
What is your experience with milk? What do you think?