Sunday, November 30, 2008

Should you pay a little more for hormone-free milk?

In Ordinary, villagers eat dairy products from cows, goats, chickens and other poultry, which they carefully raise and tend. Villagers use skills passed through thousands of years of animal husbandry to assure a safe milk, egg and meat supply.

When it comes to protecting the food supply in our world, though, corporate expediency and profits may cloud executive vision a hair. Should we be concerned? Take a look at this segment of the film The Corporation and decide for yourself.

Producers Jane Akre and Steve Wilson thought Americans should know the truth about the hormones, called rBST, that dairy farmers feed cows to increase milk production. They say they had evidence that the hormone manufacturers suppressed, but Fox News wouldn't let them tell their story. Once again, corporate expediency and profit, this time in the form of mega advertising dollars, appear to have temporarily blinded executives.

Short take: The hormones cause terrible suffering in dairy cows, including udder and teat infections that secrete bacteria-filled pus. Milking machines can't tell the difference between clean milk and pus-infected milk. Sure, our milk is pasteurized, but bacteria levels following pasteurization are higher in milk from hormone-fed cows. We drink that milk. Our children drink it. While Europe and much of the western world has banned the use of hormones in beef and dairy cattle for years, our own US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves their use.

Are Americans at risk? Harvard researcher Ganmaa Davaasambuu thinks chances are good that we are. The Sprecher Institute for Comparative Cancer Research at Cornell University, on the other hand, says little or no evidence has been found to support the hypothesis. Of course, that's partly because almost no one has studied the issue. What we don't know can't hurt us. Can it?

Whatever science decides, our household will continue to pay a little more for hormone-free milk. We consider the extra pennies it takes to protect dairy animals from unwarranted suffering a worthy tithe. Who knows? We just might save ourselves a nasty bout with cancer in our later years.

What do you think?


  1. I vote w/ my dollars, and I drink raw, certified, organic milk. In a pinch I'll use products that are "only" organic. No rsbt, ever. It's use is cruel and unnecessary. And any time the critter is unhealthy, so are the products it produces.

    I'm interested in a "new" story that is beginning to emerge. 2X now I've read that the incidence of kidney stones in children is soaring.

    Finally, through a freedom of info act, they released the fact that testing of infant formula shows that yes, of course we too have melamine in the food supply... which, by the way, causes kidney stones and other kidney problems.

    Not enough of it in the infant formula to worry about? Where else is it?

    Well, we know that during the pet food scandal china continued to ship melamine contaminated "protein" to Vietnam and Thailand for food for the fish farms there. I doubt that this practice has changed. So we can guess it's in most of the fish/shrimp we eat, since it's mostly all farmed product. Where else? It appears likely to be in fertilizer, but since toxic factory waste is permitted that use, it isn't tracked. No one has published anything about whether it can be taken up by plants, or by the critters eating those plants. There doesn't need to be enough to kill to cause an "alarming increase in kidney stones" in children.

    Sorry for the side trip, but this is enormously irritating and angering for me. I don't know if there IS a connection, I just know that I don't see anyone talking about it, and that's frustrating. It's obvious, it's possible, so it should be checked out and checked off the list if appropriate.

  2. It's such a crazy machine, the insane cycles American food producers have created. They modify our wheat and it makes us sick. They refine our corn to the point that it becomes an addictive and dangerous substance. They find a way to get the cows to gain weight faster but it makes them sick so they have to give them medications--then they put them in unnatural environments that makes them even more sick so they need yet more medication to produce more babies, to gain more weight, and to produce more milk. It is positively insane and Americans don't care because they don't know what they're eating or drinking and Americans don't WANT to know.

    And the government supports the insanity by creating insane rules that keep the producers producing the way they are. The USDA doesn't test the meat we produce, it just requires that our slaughter houses and meat processing centers be set up a certain way. Organic cattle raisers can produce leaner, healthier, safer, tastier beef but the government won't let them sell it unless they spend gobs and gobs of money on a certain kind of processing center. I bet the milk industry is the same, as long as the dairy farms are set up a certain way it doesn't matter that the milk they're producing is, well, nasty!

    I'm sure I didn't say any of this well but you asked me what I thought and, in a nutshell, I think it's insane and I can't help but feel that the point of it all is to make us all sick because that's exactly what all this crap food we're eating and drinking is doing to us.

  3. I agree, Hayden. It's insane. I was appalled at the news stories the other day stating that melamine was in US infant formula supply. Equally appalling: That the amount of melamine in the formula was deemed a "safe" level. How can any amount of melamine be safe? Especially for babies whose brains are still developing?

    On Oct 29, the Science News Review blog posted this story, with lots of links to research and articles on the rise of kidney stones in US children.

    It seems the safest way to protect our food supply is to grow our own or buy locally from farmers and producers we know and trust. Now that's a concept right out of Ordinary. :)

  4. WOW! This is wild. I don't drink milk at all but I still found this amazing. If I do kiefer or raw cheese (only a few times a year if that) I get only organic. But I am going to share this with someone who DOES drink a lot milk. Great info that every milk drinker should read. And I can't bear the suffering the animals go through.


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