Factory farms are squeezing out the small, family-run dairy farms. Since the year 2000, at least 30,000 US dairy farms have closed. What happened to their cows?
Those that didn’t get sold to more prosperous farmers went to the slaughterhouse. But the truth is that most dairy cows share the same fate when their milk production tapers off. Dairy cows account for about 11 percent of all beef processed in the U.S.
The few small farms that survive are either losing money or finding sometimes risky alternatives to making ends meet. Netflix’ docuseries episode Rotten: Milk Money explores some of these alternatives.
Take Chaz and Megan Self’s Grassway Organics farm. A former vegan, Self began dairy farming to take advantage of the rising demand for organic milk. But he soon realized raw milk was even more profitable.
The problem? Grassways Organics is in Wisconsin, where selling raw milk is illegal. That didn’t discourage Chaz and Megan from going on camera to extol the virtues of providing a “healthy” product for their customers.
And they’re far from alone! A quick Google search for “raw milk benefits” reveals an entire culture of raw-milk diehards.
But are they correct? Is raw milk really healthy and safe?
Scott Rankin, professor of Food Science from the University of Wisconsin, recognizes that raw milk drinkers claim it’s both. But all its supposed health benefits, he says, remain unproven:
“If we take that anecdotal evidence and apply it towards mainstream engines of science, we just don’t find evidence.” Rankin adds that the assumed benefits in no way compensate for “… the very well-known risk, very well-defined risk of someone succumbing to a pathogen.”
Dairy farms, Milk Money explains, are ideal environments for toxic pathogens. They’re so hospitable to salmonella, campylobacter and E. coli and similar organisms that 80 percent of milk-borne pathogen outbreaks occur in the 3 percent of consumers who drink raw dairy milk!
In other words, switching from pasteurized to raw dairymilk would make you “… 150 times more likely” to contract “some form of illness.”
But do raw milk’s shortcomings really make pasteurized milk a better choice? What do the mainstream engines of science say?
The NutritionFacts.org team reviews about 25,000 scientific studies each year. Searching their website for research on “milk” returns 699 results. A quick look through the results and the science overwhelmingly shows that consuming dairy milk in anyform is dangerous.
My recommendation? Skip all dairy milk and milk products, whether pasteurized or not. Unless you’re a calf, cow’s milk simply isn’t going to do your body good!
So if you can’t imagine a meal without milk, why not go with a delicious, refreshing plant-based alternative such as:
or soy milk.
Cows, after all, live on plant-based foods. They would appreciate it if we did too.