milk matters

Three years ago, when I was in Mexico, I got an unpleasant case of what was probably food poisoning. I don’t know what caused it, but considering I have previously traveled in several other coutnries and lived for a year in China with no digestive issues, I was quite taken aback by how badly I reacted to something.

This December, I started out the trip much more carefully. I didn’t eat any raw fruit with skin and was careful not to ingest unboiled tap water. The first morning at my husband’s house though, I was faced with a decision about raw milk. Mexicans, or at least my husband’s family, typically drink a glass of warm milk with a piece of bakery for breakfast every morning.

Their milk arrives in a metal pail, every other day, from a very old man who delivers it, I assume, straight from his cow. We got into a discussion of whether I should drink it, his mom saying it’s fine because she had boiled it, my husband saying I should decide but that sometimes his brother (who has a weak stomach anyway) gets sick from it.

Well, I drank it, almost every day, and I was fine the whole trip. It’s not that I thought the milk was what made me sick last time, but I just read a very interesting Salon.com article on raw milk, and what is apparently now a very small “movement” to drink raw milk for a myriad of health benefits. There are lots of angles in this article, and it’s Salon, so of course it’s left-leaning, but it’s very interesting.

It also makes me think about my general feeling (not based on fact or study, just based on anecdotal evidence and experience in other “less-developed” countries) that the food we eat in the U.S. — how it’s produced, what it’s made of, its processing, has caused the myriad of strange health problems that don’t seem to be occuring at the same rates in the rest of the world.

The first thing I think of are allergies. Now granted, allergies were around when I was a kid, I was once tested and proclaimed allergic to milk, peanut butter and chocolate. I consume all of those things with no unusual results, so I always thought it was a load of crap, but just during the last 10 or 15 years, it seems that freakishly lethal reactions to peanuts, among other things, have become commonplace.

One theory is that children’s immune systems are not being challenged enough to make them work right, and therefore they go haywire when encountering something harmless and commonplace like a peanut. I don’t know how all this stuff works together, but I have to agree with the article’s angle and the following comments that suggest there is something inately better about food that is simply produced, raw and local, even more than just organic.

If anyone has a little while to read the article, please post your thoughts.

And by the way, that warm, fresh milk with a little sugar is, indeed, delicious.

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One Response to milk matters

  1. Rachel S. says:

    Hey Laura,

    I didin’t read the article yet, but the topic is interesting. My brothers and I drank “raw” whole, unpasteurized, etc. milk from the bulk tank at our dairy farm our whole lives, until I was about 13. (My mom had just had my sister, and my aunt told her she thought it was dangerous for a little kid to drink, so we switched to “store-bought” milk.) I have no allergies, and seem to have a much stronger immune system than most, as do my brothers, I think. My sister gets sick more often than any of us. So it’s just an annecdotal, but I think interesting.

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