Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Dairy not necessarily healthy

After reading several times the front page of the Addison Independent’s Aug. 5 article on Marie Audet’s induction into the Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame, as well as Angelo Lynn’s editorial on dairy farms and Dan Monger’s letter, I realized something was wrong, something was missing. Further discussion needed to be included. But was it fair for me to question — particularly at this time of all the agricultural fairs and fun times had by everyone who attended — the accomplishments of someone who probably was being celebrated by many of our community?
My answer is YES, for the product her beloved cows were producing — milk — is now no longer definitely considered the perfect healthy food and necessary for our diets. The dairy industry’s millions of dollars “Got Milk” campaign — a bombardment of cleverly crafted ads and famous people wearing white mustaches — convinced the public and even many doctors that dairy foods are good. At least we should be questioning their merits!
What people should know is that as recently as July 11 of this year the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine — a nonprofit with 12,000 doctor members — stated “Ditch dairy!” They advised “that to help keep all Americans healthy milk consumption should not be recommended in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines.” We should follow Canada’s decision to remove milk from a prominent position in their food guide. And to further illustrate and support this position on dairy, we should, of course, not omit T. Colin Campbell’s “The China Study,” considered by many to be the “most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted.” His message illustrates that casein, the main protein in milk is “the most relevant chemical carcinogen ever identified.”
Obviously, the whole topic of dairy and health and the current situation for Vermont dairy farmers is complex and has no quick, short-term solutions. My calling into question Audet’s award should be only the beginning — the very beginning — of a larger, on-going discussion involving cows, dairy, health, the destruction of our environment and the ethical treatment of farm animals. The public needs to be made aware of and think about the following: Humans are the only species to drink milk after infancy and the only species that drinks another species’ milk. As was written in the London Economic newspaper — Is it time to let dairy fail? “When is it OK to justify an unethical or unhealthy practice — dairy farming — simply because it provides jobs?”
To close, Dr. David Katz, the director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center and current president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, says, “Change is never easy.” Doing what needs doing will be disruptive and difficult. “All great advances, all great accommodations of urgent need and updated realty have been disruptive. So too will be the stunningly diversely beneficial shift to diets of mostly minimally-processed plant.” And that does not include dairy!
One final suggestion to further confirm why it is best to give up dairy: take the time to watch the short documentary “73 Cows” as well as the longer documentary “H.O.P.E. (Healing of Planet Earth) — What You Eat Matters.”
Respectfully,
Pat Davies
Middlebury

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