The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

no fatty milk for you

From the New York Times: In New York Schools, Whole Milk Is Cast From the Menu

Oh, a quite note: I'm afraid this is another food porn/review-less post. I won't blame you if you just glance over this and move on to more exciting things; I do that a lot, as I have the attention span of a goldfish. Today when I opened bloglines after getting home from school and saw more than 130 new posts in my "food" folder, staring at me, all pleading to be read (yeah, the Internet talks to me), I wanted to cry. Why, bloglines, why? I also wanted to clean up the folder to lessen future blog bombardment (blogbardment!, but I couldn't decide what to unsubscribe from. Trying to follow so many blogs is pretty useless as in the end, I end up reading just a handful of posts....

...such as apartment therapy's post about the milk ban in NYC public schools (there's another post on Gothamist). My first thought was, "Hm, that sounds kinda pointless." Then I thought about it some more (probably while noshing on chocs, being the health conscious person that I am) and it truly bothered me. While most of the country is probably pissed at Bush (well, I guess that's more like half; the majority did vote for him, right?...somewhere...oh, I didn't watch the State of the Union Address, so sue me), the removal of whole milk from little New Yorkers' hands is what pisses me off. To some degree.

I don't drink milk. It's not that I mind dairy products, but drinking a large class of cold (or warm) moo juice just doesn't strike my fancy. It kinda unstrikes my fancy, if there is suck a thing. What I wonder is that out of everything they could think to ban, they chose whole milk? Is whole milk really contributing to little New Yorkers' increasing waistlines? People have been drinking whole milk for thousands of years, and if it was good enough for my Neolithic ancestors, then it's good enough for me.

Yes, I know today's milk isn't quite like the "straight out of the cow's teat" fresh. I'd be interested in trying fresh, raw milk at some point; if the idea grosses you out, then is it alright for me to be slightly grossed out by the idea of drinking factory-farmed, processed milk? (I know this may seem hypocritical, as I eat a lot of processed foods, but there are "good" and "bad" versions of food products, which I'm sure you could figure out.) Although I'm not familiar with milk processing, I'd assume that whole milk is less processed than low fat versions. Some people drink low fat milk because they like the taste more; that's fine with me--it's not like I particularly like the taste of any milk, whole or with fat removed (or water added; how is low fat milk made?). However, if I had to drink a type of milk, I'd rather drink whole than low fat.

I used to rant about the healthfulness (or lack of) in milk; that's not what I plan to do in this post. It was always more controversial, than I would've liked resulting in people freaking out at me for blasting their beloved beverage. (In 9th grade, I did a report about why people shouldn't drink milk in my health class. After my presentation, people just...stared at me funnily. No one asked me questions, but they probably thought I was insane; obviously, you want to avoid contact with insane people. Thankfully, my health teacher agreed with some things I said, so I wasn't completely insane.) So all I'm saying is...uh...

...Crap, I forgot. Well. I just feel like if we're so damn concerned about the health of today's youth, much better things could be done than removing whole milk. (I know some schools have banned soda and junk foods. I have no statistics as to how much of an impact those changes make, but I wouldn't oppose them. During high school I was pseudo horrified to see classmates drinking Coke at 8 AM. And then there was that time two of my classmates were throwing cigarettes across the room, but I guess that's a different problem.) Maybe change menus around to incorporate healthier foods and take out heavily processed foods. Don't get me wrong--I understand the logic behind recommending that people drink low fat milk instead of whole milk; I just disagree with it. I also understand why schools can't fill their cafeterias with organic and locally grown food, but maybe someday they'll be reasonable options.

In the meantime, I can't say I'm taking any action. I'm insanely passive. Insaaane. Lazy. (sigh) My rant is pretty meaningless unless I actually do something about it.

However, I just wanted to ...possibly raise an issue in readers (like you! *points*) that they wouldn't usually think about. Surely there are stupider things in the world than banning whole milk, but I'm just choosing what interests me. That's why I have a blog. Mwahahahaa.

Just some final thoughts not to wrap things up but because this blog isn't edited in any professional means: When I was in elementary school, I only drank chocolate milk every so often. was chocolate. Technically you were supposed to pay for milk in the beginning of the year (or send in a form saying that you wanted it) but there were always loads of leftovers, so I'd sometimes nick a chocolate milk for meself. However, I'd rarely even drink those; I was under the impression that milk would give me mucus.

My dairy consumption was low growing up, but I wouldn't say my health suffered because of it, despite what the American Dairy Association would like me to believe (you know, that my arms and legs would just turn to dust and my brain would atrophy and yadda yadda). Many of you probably know that milk products don't play a large role in Asian cuisine. One popular theory for this is that a large percentage of Asians are lactose intolerant. I call this a theory because we've discussed the lack of dairy in Asian culture (Southeast Asia, more like) in some of my classes and...I'm too lazy to sum them up, which makes this paragraph rather useless. Here's a random observation: people in Taiwan really like ice cream. Hell, it's hot, why wouldn't they like ice cream? Taro ice cream! Oh baby., does my mind wander or what?

Uh. Oh yeah, milk. If you're a milk aficionado then feel free to share some knowledge. My problem with milk is "real" milk versus factory produced milk. These qualms can be extended to meat and produce. I'm not saying I don't ingest big agribusiness-produced food (hellooo mysterious Chinese pork/meat/chicken products), but I think it's good to know about what other options are out there, if you have access to them.


Rose / February 2, 2006 10:31 PM

So that's how you spell "teat"...never knew. thanks :-)

I'm convinced the obsessiveness over ice cream is an asian (maybe east asian) thing. Last summer, I was in korea and japan and there's ice cream everywhere and in all these interesting odd (well, maybe to me) flavors.

Liz / February 2, 2006 11:21 PM

Milk is something us narsty Europeans brought to Asia along with syphilis and horses. It's really not all that surprising that most people don't find it a necessary part of their diets

I love ice cream, adore cheese, and yet milk is just something that washes down a good cookie or makes cereal float.

We've only recently begun flogging the idea that calcium is a necessary thing (lots of folks died of broken bones in the past, so naturally we are paranoid about our dairy).

Try some yogurt. Active cultures. Woo-hoo!

(Good entry, but I dunno either. Maybe someone will explain...)

pumpkinpie / February 3, 2006 7:02 AM

Hmmm... yes, milk is nutritious breast milk meant for baby cows, who soon grow to weigh 400 kilograms. It causes phlegm, contains hormones, etc. However, I have lived in Asia for ten years now and have seen osteoporosis and bone deformity like no where else on the planet. I don't think it is possible to get enough calcium from eating, say, spinach. Asians who move to milk-drinking countries increase bone density within one generation. And what about those gigantic Dutch people? They love dairy.

roboppy / February 3, 2006 8:03 AM

Rose: I'm so glad I could teach you something, hahahaha. ;) In Japan milky things have a sweet/cute connotation, which might be why it's a popular flavor in...things. Because of the cuteness obsession thing....which I've been meaning to talk about since I wrote my essay last semester but haven't gotten to yet. I've never had a particularly weird ice cream flavor but I think in Japan they have stuff like shimp and eel ...sometimes. I don't really want to try those, haha.

Liz: I think horses have been in Asian for...a while. I mean, that they migrated there and weren't brought there. But I can't be quoted on that as I'm too lazy to actually look it up. I remember yesterday my teacher told us how horses may have originated in North America but migrated to Asia and Europe, leaving NA horseless, except for ...llamas? I don't remember what he said word for word. And then a gazillion years later the Europeans brought horses back to NA.

But Europeans did bring milk to some Asian countries during colonization and such. I wouldn't think about what foods are remnants of colonization before having taken a class about it, hehe.

My mum became obsessed with cheese not too long ago. Just raw milk cheese though. There aren't any dairy products I really love (ice cream would be a favorite, but I don't think I eat it that often), but it's definitely used in baked goods and stuff every now and!

I used to eat sooo much yogurt. It was an attempt to curb my wheat consumption. It kinda worked for a whiiile...haven't had yogurt in a long time. Greek is my favorite.

pumpkinpie: I used to always talk to people abut phlem and hormones (and antibiotics, pus, etc) but then I realized...well, I can't stop people from drinking milk and I'm not a nutritionist (although if I were, I guess I'd have to tell people to drink low fat milk instead of whole, ugh). I eat things with milk in them, so I didn't want to be too hypocritical. I would tell people to at least drink a good brand of milk.

I don't really have a problem telling people to not drink soda since that's recent food. I could tell people why they shouldn't eat wheat, but that won't fly with it being an important staple for thousands of years and...obviously, I eat craploads of it. ;P I could tell people why soy might not be good for them, but that's a pretty important food too. And I'm not an expert, so if people are really curious they could google it or something.

My family hasn't had problems with osteoporosis so I guess I haven't thought about that. My dad's grandparents are eerily not too diseased though. We're ALL SCARED! People in milk drinking counties also get osteoporosis, right? Not a neglegible number of people, at least...not that I'm running off to find data about that, haha. Ahrhrgrg too early, have to change out of my pjs.

Ash / February 3, 2006 8:07 AM

Whole milk has been removed from lunchrooms here in Alabama too, along with a complete "healthy lunchroom makeover". No fried foods, no packaged foods, no more pizza or mexican food, and no more strawberry (my personal favorite)/chocolate/regular whole milk.

Many students have choosen to 'rebel'...but I graduate in 112 days so I don't give a rip anymore. :P

Wei / February 3, 2006 10:09 AM

I've actually been on a milk farm and tasted fresh milk that was literally 1 or 2 hrs after it left the cow. It tasted pretty darn good. Obviously, it was a lot more creamy than what you get at the grocery store, but what surprised me was that it kinda tasted like melted ice cream.. yum.

As for the osteoprosis issue, that's not quite true. Osteoprosis isn't just an intake issue, its also a body absorption as well as a autoimmune disease. You can be taking in pounds of calcium per day and your body won't be able to retain it.

There are many ways of obtaining a daily dietary intake of calcium without milk or other dairy products. I've done it for many years, not because I dislike milk (my doctor told me not to drink it ;_; (he's a hater.. yea)). Suffice it to say, I'm not suffering from any joint and/or bone degenerative diseases. :)

Ani / February 3, 2006 11:26 AM

Whole Milk isn't the problem. It's the over indulgence. People don't know about happy mediums. Whole Milk is necessary for children because the fat content helps develop the brain. The problem is their stupid parents let them eat freaking fast food whenever they want.

Rebecca / February 3, 2006 1:13 PM

I have also been quietly (except for one comment on Gothamist) paying attention to the whole (as in, entire) milk debate. I'm very into the banishment of whole milk--for the same reasons as you mentioned, hormones, that terrible "mucus" thing, etc. I am not exactly unbiased because I used to be vegan, and I feel like even though I can eat the crummy and the yummy (Doritos, organic and small-farm cheeses, ice cream) I can't un-educate myself about stuff like 1. people don't NEED dairy products and 2. they can harm us. But I totally agree with you that soda, candy, and those delicious Doritos would have been a better place to start with, if you're going to take something out of the cafeteria. But whole milk is not healthy, and it can be so easily replaced with stuff that is.

Shawn / February 3, 2006 3:21 PM

Whole milk is not really any less processed than low fat milk. While low fat milk does go through an extra step to remove fat (not add water--a glass of low fat milk has the same vitamin content as a glass of whole milk), the processing of milk is actually the best thing about the product. Processing milk is pasteurizing it, which is basically heating it up to a point to kill the bad bacteria.
The hormones in milk come from the hormones that are fed to the cows. So any cow product from said cow will contain some of those hormones or hormone by-products--"raw" milk, pasteurized milk, steak.
The objection to processed foods in general are often based on the fact that processed foods remove fiber content and contain a lot of sugar, artificial colors and flavors, and preservatives. The milk you buy in the store do not offend on any of these counts, i.e. I wouldn't call it processed.

Kristen / February 3, 2006 3:44 PM

hah, my school did the same thing, in adition to giving out ww rolls rather than white, taking all "junk" out of the vending machines (everything is baked and those 100 cals packs now or granola bars), and shrinking the HUGE DELICIOUS cookies to normal sized ones. The thing is, they don't limit the number of cookies you can buy so most kids buy !3! to !6! normal ones, thus defeating the whole point of the change. The idiots also still feed us shit (excuse the language) which I don't really care because I am cool and pack. For example: today for lunch they served baked potatos (healthy) smothered in taco meat and fake cheese sauce, iceburg lettuce salad, overcooked broccoli, and a cookie, not to mention the slushies that are included in the lunch. Boy, school nutritionists are fools....:)

roboppy / February 3, 2006 5:12 PM

Ash: Wow, I never heard of a school getting rid of that much stuff. Mexican food = BAD FOR YOUUU! :O I've never had strawberry milk but that does sound tasty (well, I'd go for a strawberry milkshake, haha). So what kind of food does your school serve? Sandwiches and salads? When I was in high school, I mainly got sandwiches from the cafeteria. Not horrible, not great. Better than tacos.

Wei: Man, that sounds tasty. Kinda. I milked a cow once but I didn't actually drink the milk (I think I was 8 or 9). Mmm, creamy...bring it on!

Good point about the absorption issue. Something I wonder about is all those foods with added calcium, like orange juice. Can your body actually absorb the calcium? Or is that a stupid question? I assume that not all calcium is created equal and if something has added nutrients, the nutrients may not even be easily absorbed by the body, in which case it's a great marketing ploy but not actually helpful. Or maybe I'm just overthinking things. Also, I'd think that depending on other things you eat, calcium may or may not be helpful. Can milk deplete your calcium?

Yeah, I've somehow gotten calcium too. Don't know how, but eh. It's not like drinking more milk wouldn't have made me any taller, at least not to a point where it'd matter much. (And if anyone's wondering if my family's weird, I think at some point when I was little my grandparents wanted my parents to give me some kind of that I'd be taller. Oh. God. Yeah. Disregard if that's actually good for my health at all.)

Ani: Ahhh yes, I'm well aware of overindulgence. ;) Yesterday was particularly bad; I kept wanting to eat stuff, but I was...stuffed! Anyway. I don't think that milk is necessary for kids (I didn't drink it as a kid...annnd let's not analyze that statement) but now their only choice is low fat milk, which I don't see as very helpful when more harmful foods could be removed.

Another thing: I used to eat fast food all the time as a kid. My childhood was a strange mix of bad food eating in a house with a semi-health conscious mum (we always went to the health food stores, haha). Actually...yeah, that is weird, now that I think about it. When she didn't want to cook, we'd go to McDonalds, which happened a lot. However, I didn't grow up eating a lot of junk food most kids ate. I'm sure my brother and I pressured my parents into taking us to fast food places too. :P

Rebecca: MUCUS! I'm definitely not a fan of the mucus. However, at my most "mucused" (it's a state of being, haha...oh god), I wasn't eating many dairy products (because they were never a big part of my diet anyway). Hwever, I'm sure adding dairy products wouldn't have made the mucus go AWAY, so..blah. I used to be quite a mucus-filled mess while the rest of my family seemed better off.

Soda! ARgragha! Soda aggrivates me. I used to like it too, but I really wish I had listened to my mum when she told me not to buy it. However, if she had given me more reasons about why it was bad for my health, maybe I would've listened. :\

I like water. Yum.

Shawn: Thanks for the milk info. Trying to google how low fat milk is produced didn't return much. (Google failed me!) I'm not really against pasteurization (I took a few food sanitation/microbiology related classes...oh god, no moore!) but I'm interested in trying raw milk for the heck of it. I still remember the first time I had strawberries fresh off the farm; they're nothing like strawberries from a supermarket. They weren't even like strawberries from a farmer's market. A bunch of my housemates had picked them and...uh, I gorged on a couple. Or more. Anyway, I know that's not milk but eating "real" stuff can be quite different from what we end up getting after it's been packaged and put in a store.

I'd like to believe that not all cows have the same amount of hormones. Or the same kind?...or...yeah, that wasn't a very well through out idea.

I'm not just opposed to processed foods for the reasons you mentioned, although I agree that those are the main problems. I would rather have a lessed processed honey than a more refined honey, and...well, it's honey. Sugar. Delicious. But there are other things in honey that many people may not know about, which processing could affect. Even some whole fruit is processed to keep fresh and whatnot. I'm not saying people shouldn't eat any processed foods (since it's nearly impossible) but maybe they should know that there are different levels of processing? Or. Some. Thing. Mind. Wandering...

Kristen: Man, my high school would never do those things! Not unless parents wanted it...and last time I checked, they didn't really care. (I lived in a middle-upper class neighborhood though, so it didn't seem like people were all that unhealthy despite the junk food and soda machines.) Maan, I love huge delicious cookies, although if I really wanted them I wouldn't want to get them at my school (the cafeteria was run by Aramark). In my high school most people would buy three cookies at a time (it was only a $1; they were normal sized, hehe). A baked potato smothered in taco meat and fake cheese sounds really nasty...annnd like somthing my school might sell. But replace "potato" with "tortilla chips". :P

I got sick of conventional nutrition pretty quickly. It's not that it's all crap, but some stuff just makes me go "Huuuh?" I like how in my nutrition class we learned about the old food pyramid, but the information became somewhat obsolete the next year when they changed the pyramid. Lovely.

lori / February 4, 2006 8:28 AM

I must speak up about this "Asians and their dairy intake" bit. I'm Asian and have been living in Asia all my life. Here in Manila where I'm from, people actually don't drink enough milk. Quite a few even believe they're lactose intolerant, (which is most probably bogus). If Filipinos do drink milk, it'll most probably be whole milk, and I say good for them. I drink low-fat milk because I eat too much dessert.

Anyway, I love milk. Adore it, and couldn't live without it. Really.

roboppy / February 4, 2006 10:50 AM

Bea: Oh no, I don't drink milk anymore. Not...straight up at least? ;D But the only reason I drank it before was because it was free and chocolate flavored, which I wouldn't say is straight either. I drink hot chocolate sometimes (which is the main reason I bought a carton of milk a while back, but the milk went bad before I could use it all, haha), but otherwise, it's an ingredient in food I eat, not really something I ingest by itself. I don't eat cereal or else I guess I'd eat it with that.

Lori: Thanks for the input! I didn't know people didn't drink enough milk there. Not that I have first hand experience, but I'd think that Filipino cuisine is pretty different from other Asian cuisines. Kind...a. I mean, I wouldn't know much about Filipino food if I hadn't taken a class about Asian cuisine last year (but that class really should've been a year long; one semester is too short!). I still don't know much about Filipino cuisine (I remember at one point learning that sweets play a larger role than in other parts of Asia, which of course made me think of your blog, heehee), but one of the general ideas about the class is that a country's cuisine has a lot to do with its colonization history, which I guess is obvious, but it's not something I'd think much about unless...someone forced me to learn it. YAY, SOMEONE FORCED ME.

I grew up thinking I was lactose intolerant, but I don't think I am. I guess my mum didn't want my brother or me to drink milk? :P

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