Mmm mm! I love me some dairy and eggs! It’s still hard to believe that I didn’t use to eat much of them. (Especially yogurt!) That said I am planning a Vegan Challenge where I try out a vegan diet for a month. ^_^ But here, let’s learn about dairy.
Milk is an excellent source of protein, fat, and calcium and also can be a good source of Omega 3 fatty acid if you get it from a cow that has been allowed to move and eat grass.
Interesting fact: Humans are the only mammals that drink another mammals milk.
The dairy industry in the US is very very powerful.
- It’s in all 50 states
- Well subsidized
- Produces over 20 billion gallons a year, a lot of which is exported.
What do Cows Eat?
Cows thrive on grass. That’s what their bodies were designed to digest. However, conventional cows are being fed antibiotics, hormones, and grain (mostly corn) now days.
Organic cows are not allowed hormones or antibiotics and must be given 100% organic feed. They also must be allowed regular grass grazing.
Has anyone had a taste test of organic vs conventional milk? I think I’m going to give it a try!
What’s done to milk after it comes out of the cow?
- Pooled and shipped – it’s rare you get milk from just one farm unless you go through a local dairy
- Homogenized – breaks up globs of milk fat so that it is evenly distributed throughout the milk. No chemicals involved. (Side note: Goat’s milk is not normally homogenized and they are given no antibiotics.)
- Pasteurized – Milk is heated to increase shelf-life. The heat destroys any harmful bacteria but also destroys some of the natural enzymes that make milk more digestible. (Ultra-pasteurized milk is heated to a higher temperature and thus kills more bacteria and enzymes, but has an even longer shelf-life.)
- Fat removed – Removed from the milk with centrifugal force.
- Fortified – Vitamin A and D is added to all reduced fat milk required by law.
- Packaged and shipped again.
These are genetically-engineered hormones injected into milk cows to increase milk production (5-15%). However, these hormones decrease nutritional content and increase levels of antibiotics found in milk. They also stimulate insulin-like growth factor 1 in cows, higher levels of this in humans are related to many cancers. It’s crazy that we still allow this in our dairy system right now when even the European Union and Canada have it banned. Big corporate companies are campaigning heavily against having it on the label on milk so consumers won’t be able to tell which milk comes cows that have been given these growth hormones.
SustainableTable.Com is a great website to consul to find lists of milk in your area that’s available without these hormones.
Before their was pasteurization and refrigeration, people usually drank milk raw or cultured to make products that would keep. Lactic acid producing bacteria digest and break down the lactose and casein in the milk. Once these bacteria predominate, putrefying bacteria is inactivated, preserving the milk from spoilage aka yogurt! This makes the milk product easier to digest because 30-40% of the lactose is already broken down.
The protein in an egg is used as a standard for measuring other protein sources because it is so perfect. (6.5 g/egg) They are rich in iron, phosphorus, thiamin, and all the fat-soluble vitamins, A,D,E, and K. The yolk contains cholesterol (which yes, your body does need some) and lecithin. The yolk can also be rich in omega 3 fatty acids depending on the hen’s diet.
Conventional vs Family Farm
Conventional hen houses are a big area of dispute when it comes to the treatment of animals. I know quiet a few vegans who have become vegan just because of them alone! Wire cages containing 2-4 hens are stacked several stories high in a warehouse. Besides of this high stress, hens have their becks cut off so they don’t cause any damage to themselves or their cell mates. The productivity of a hen is directly related to daylight so they keep the lights on 24/7 to get the highest egg production rate.
Here’s a really great movie on the labels used on egg cartons.
So apparently the label to look for is now pastured eggs! One study has found that pastured eggs have:
- 1/3 less cholesterol
- 1/4 less saturated fat
- 2/3 more Vitamin A
- 2x more omega 3 fatty acids
- 3x more Vitamin E
- 7x more beta carotene
- 4-6x more Vitamin D
To be honest I haven’t seen “pastured eggs” on cartons anywhere, but I’m definitely going to look!