(Photo Credit: Justin Liebow)
Hi! It’s good to talk to you again! This week has been packed so far, and I don’t see it letting up anytime soon. But, I love the part of June where you “gear up” for the summer. Today is one of those it’s-raining-so-I-am-staying-inside days (which I secretly love..shh). Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want every day to be like this, but I love the variation. Some days, the outside just calls to you, so you go into the yard to “work” on things (code for: secretly playing in the garden), and other days are more like today. You enjoy that all the things are getting watered, and that you didn’t have to do it (I’ve noticed that the things I enjoy have changed over time…. don’t judge me…I’m conserving water). 😉
Any way. To the topic at hand! Dairy. *gasp*. Now, before you get too far ahead of me, let me explain what the purpose of this article is. (Ok? Ok). I have a lot of clients asking me what I think about dairy, eating dairy, is dairy bad, is dairy good, etc. I want to use this article to provide you with some information that I’ve discovered, and to give you different perspectives on dairy products. The purpose of this information is so that you can use it to inform the choices you make about what you feed your family, and how you look at dairy. I don’t want us to go into this with you thinking I’m a big milk-hating nut. I’d encourage you to go to the sources I’ve sited yourself, and read them too. Don’t just take my word on things. It’s good to know why you think certain things, and to be confident that you have done your best to make a choice based on all of the information available to you. You shouldn’t think that any one article you read on any site is the end-all of information on that certain topic. Reading several balanced perspectives, thinking about it critically, and then making a choice for yourself is a useful way to approach things.
(Photo Credit: Elias Carlsson)
With that all said, let’s jump in! I submit for your consideration these facts about dairy:
1. Dairy has some bacterial cells in it.
In the National Dairy Code: Production and Processing Requirements, it speaks briefly about specific requirements for dairy testing. In raw milk, the maximum allowable limit of living mesophilic aerobic bacteria is 50,000 cfu/ml, or 120,000 Individual Bacterial Count/ml (for cow’s milk). Let’s break down what that means. The word “mesophilic” is used to refer to something that thrives at moderate temperatures (1), and “aerobic” refers to the fact that this specific type of bacteria require oxygen to survive. The acronym “cfu” stands for colony-forming unit (CFU), which is a rough estimate of the number of viable bacteria or fungal cells in a sample (2). This means that there are living bacteria in raw milk (which is the type that is sampled for quality control prior to processing).
The National Dairy Code also refers to an acceptable amount of “somatic cells” in both cow’s and goat’s milk. In cow’s milk, the allowable upper limit is 400,000/ml. The definition of somatic cells are any cell from the body, except the reproductive cells (3). This could include organs, connective tissues, etc. In dairy, however, the bulk of somatic cells are made of white blood cells (4). The reason that dairy farmers measure the somatic cell count (SCC), is because it is a consistent clinical indicator for mastitis (inflammation of the milk-producing elements of the cow) (5). (Super exciting, I know!). So, there are some somatic cells in every milliliter of milk. (They’re dead if your milk has been pasteurized, but still in there). And if you’re in Canada, your milk has been pasteurized.
2. Humans are unusual mammals, consuming milk in adulthood.
Other mammals only drink milk during infancy, and then are weaned. Milk is used as a food supply in many places in the world, but it’s only people who drink it consistently during adulthood. Our bodies sometimes turn off the enzymes necessary to successfully digest dairy products as we get older, usually starting to occur around age 2 (6). See also the R. BIE page, for more information.
3. Cow’s milk contains nutrients…for baby cows.
Not to be confused with colostrum, which according to the National Dairy Code is not used in commercial dairy production, but is fed to calves. But really, this is what I want to get at in this section; cows produce milk after they give birth. So, the milk is really produced for their young. There was actually a section in the Dairy Code that talked about how calves were to be kept in separate pens from the lactating cows (I think the rationale was to keep the udder more sanitary). But I’m not sure how I feel about that. The point of the milk is for the cow to provide things to the baby cow that it needs to grow and be healthy. Ok, that’s all I’m going to say about that.
4. Canadian Dairy Standards Are Very Thorough (and strict).
Not only are there very specific requirements for each dairy farm to adhere to, there is also a great deal of troubleshooting and knowledge required relating to commercial dairy production. Like any other industry, a great deal of effort and upkeep is required to produce dairy in Canada. You can get a better understanding of what goes into dairy farming from the Canadian Quality Milk On-Farm Food Safety Program document (all 147 glorious pages).
5. Cow’s Milk Can Erode Concrete Flooring.
This point is from more of an anecdotal standpoint. A teacher of mine shared a story with our class about his growing up time, and how he had spent at least one summer working on a family member’s dairy farm. He shared that from the beginning of his time on the farm, the farmer had warned him to be careful not to drip milk on the floor of the milking parlor, and was really adamant about it. At the end of the summer, the farmer had had to wash out and fill in the concrete floor from where milk drops had fallen, because the cow’s milk had eaten away little pockets of the concrete. (Apparently, it was the lactic acid in the milk responsible for this). Anyway, I thought I would include this point, because it usually makes me feel cautious to consider eating something that could damage a concrete floor. (Food for thought).
Ok, those are the big things that I wanted to share with you today. That is a sufficient amount of being serious.
What do you think about dairy? Do you love it? Dislike it? (I see you, keyboard warriors… be nice!). Let me know any other snippets you may have discovered about dairy! I’d love to hear it!
Or, let me know what your plans are for the summer! Any big travels plans? I’ve got some travelling to do, and I’m sure I’ll share some of the pictures here, but it’s so much for fun to make it a surprise!
Take care, and have a great day!
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