Lactose, casein, pasteurised, raw, soft cheese, hard cheese, yogurt, ghee, butter . . ?
Traditionally and not so long ago (in the long timeline of human history) some cultures began to keep herds of animals and to milk them. Milk was a valuable source of protein and fat which could be cultured or fermented to make cheeses and curds (yogurt) and stored.
Nations have grown up on milk, traditionally from hand milking into a bucket.
The biggest risk was from diseases of the animals like tuberculosis. Diseases which became a scourge in medieval times as populations were moved off the lands into dirty cities at the beginning of the industrial revolution.
Milk in Australia.
In Australia raw milk used to be available from small dairies which were subject to strict hygiene and health standards and produced an excellent product (like raw goats milk – many country mums who couldn’t breast feed successfully used it instead of formula). However about 20 years ago big dairy companies lobbied for the law that all dairy products sold must be pasteurized which put small dairies out of business overnight.
Now-a-days dairy is a big industry. Pastures are chemically fertilised, cows are treated like machines in the factories that dairies have become.
Pasteurisation allows raw milk inputs to carry a higher microbial count. Our immune systems can recognize dead bacteria, but not the intestinal contents of disintegrated dead bacteria; one of the reasons milk is allergenic. The heat of strong pasteurization kills beneficial enzymes, hardens the calcium and denatures proteins. Also, the high production cycle which keeps cows pregnant and lactating inevitably means worrying levels of oestrogens in milk.
The quality of milk used to be judged by how much cream was at the top of the bottle. Since homogenization we never see the cream because much of it is taken off to make other products and the milk is thickened with added milk powder (while the label still says 100% milk).
There is a well tuned advertising program to keep milk products selling. As sales decline a new program begins. Remember “Legendary Stuff”?
Is milk a useful food?
Anyone with health issues (especially digestive) is well advised to totally clear dairy out of their system for at least 30 days and not to re-introduce it until the health issues are resolved. And no doubt better off totally avoiding it as much as possible. There are plenty of other sources for protein and fat and calcium is better absorbed from vegetables.
Yet dairy is nutritious in small amounts as curds and cheeses. Our culture has so many foods that include dairy it can be difficult to go without it.
Cheeses and yogurts have value in moderate amounts and ghee is an excellent cooking oil. Don’t forget the soft white cheeses, a fresh ricotta is quite good! Kefir has incredible amounts of beneficial bacteria for the gut. The best choice for milk itself is un-homogenized and to only use minimal amounts.
The best drink is water, not a big glass of milk flavoured with sugar!