After receiving a piece of mail, at work, from the Washington State Dairy Council and attempting to gain a greater understanding of why the Dairy Association pushes milk products on the general population; I began writing this series. I began by looking at the contrast in what the dairy industry presents as “normal” and what actually happens on dairy farms around the country (Read Got Milk?: Part 1). In this next portion of the series I wanted to take a closer look at how the Dairy Association markets dairy products.
So how do you create an iconic image of a product? You pull together celebrities, throw billions of dollars in and add a dash of media attention and these iconic images have become as recognizable as any other leading brand name product.
In the 1890’s many people began moving from the farms into the cities and milk production followed them. In 1895 the Dairy Division (current days USDA) was created and milk began being advertised as a vitality drink.
According to Economet’s Stephen Leacock (1869-1911), “Advertising is the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it”. This is what the dairy industry has done in the way they market milk through their cheerful, clean, nutritious, and even sexy dairy ads. Got the Facts on Milk? is a documentary about the milk industry and the marketing taking place to sell these products. Numerous people were asked why milk is good for us and the most common answer was that it provides calcium for strong teeth and bones. We’re told that milk is good for us by commercials, doctors, schools, and the ever elusive them. Some people even felt that they would not put something on TV and tell us it is healthy when it actually is not; “It’s what we feed our babies”.
However, the stories and science that have looked at the milk industry tell a different story. From 1988 to 1993 over 2,700 articles dealing with milk were written and published; none of the research talked of milk as a good food like the dairy industry portrays. Rather intestinal bleeding, bovine leukemia (AIDS-like virus), asthma, childhood diabetes, heart disease, allergic reactions, and cancer were the focus.
If these are all the potential ‘side effects’ of drinking milk and consuming dairy products containing milk why does the Dairy Association recommend consuming two to three cups of dairy products per day (Obtained from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/dairy-amount.html)? Food policies are put into place which protect the companies producing the products recommended for intake. Health and human services create the dietary recommended intake report. The report is then passed on to the Department of Agriculture Committee (USDA) and the USDA modifies the data and tells us what to eat. There are laws which state that they have to market American agriculture products, even known unhealthy ones.
On a panel of eleven individuals, six of them have financial ties to meat, dairy and/or the agricultural industry. This is known as conflict of interest and these documents are required to be transparent and available to all. The USDA refused to share their conflict of interest statements to Dr. T. Colin Campbell of The China Study and had to be taken to court before they would release the information.
Programs which provide food to prisons, public schools and some private schools, and hospitals are all subsidized through federal food programs. If schools want to have the school lunch program they have to include the Dairy Associations recommendations. Many families on the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program are given vouchers to purchase processed food and dairy products, but not fruits and vegetables. While much has been done over the last several years to increase accessibility to fresh fruits and vegetables this is still a significant issue. One cultural group which has seen the significant impact of dairy products on its people is First Nation peoples (Native Americans). Dairy products are often forced onto mothers through their enrollment in the WIC program, four weeks after giving birth; and marketed as making sure the mother has enough nutrients (from dairy products) to feed her baby. Most schools on reservation land are dependent on the government lunch program and children are made to drink milk, even if it makes them sick or if they do not drink milk at home.
If past the age of two, you no longer have the enzyme to break down lactose why do we push milk products on young, growing bodies? Milk is for babies.
Eighty-five percent of Americans have the ability to digest milk, but this is not true for other ethnicities. Seventy-five percent of the world is lactose intolerant.
Who benefits from this SIXTY BILLION DOLLAR industry? The farmers who produce the milk to make the dairy products are definitely not profiting. Dairy farmers are required to pay into dairy promotion funds so corporations can enjoy free advertising. The marketing budget for fluid milk (the drinking kind) in 2007 was $175 million. From 1991 to 2004 the number of dairy farms around the country dropped by fifty-five percent; while cows per dairy farm rose by ninety-four percent. Less farms, more cows = industrial profits. This is capitalism at its finest. Take a product (milk), use the leftovers to make more products (butter → skim milk → dried powder), and then market them very effectively. Not quite what the Real California Milk ads portray…
What about the nutrition of milk? The USDA claims that milk contains nine different ingredients that people NEED; such as calcium. However, dairy, meat, and eggs cause bones to excrete calcium and people who consume dairy show calcium loss from eating dairy. This calcium loss results in increased osteoporosis, kidney stones, and cancer. Americans consume upwards of thirty pounds of dairy per year per person. Iron is another nutrient that is claimed to be fulfilled by consuming milk; however, children show loss of iron from intestinal bleeding due to dairy consumption. Milk products, such as cheese and butter, are filled with cholesterol and saturated fat. Seventy to eighty percent of the calories found in cheese are from fat. Moms are told to feed their children milk and then are condemned when their children are overweight.
Can Lead To…
What else is in milk? How about somatic cells? Somatic cells are white blood cells (WBC’s), also known as pus cells. Milk is allowed to have 350-400,000 pus cells per cc (cubic centimeter) and 25,000 bacteria cells per cc. A cc is just under a third of a teaspoon; which means that one glass of milk can contain 180 million WBC’s (750,000 scc – somatic cell count) and still be fine for drinking. These cells are perfectly natural and meant for a calves’ immune system – not for humans!
What about all the flavored milk marketed specifically to children? What about chocolate milk as the official refuel beverage of Ironman, Challenged Athletes Foundation, Life Time Fitness, and Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series? I wrote briefly about the amount of sugar found in flavored milk in part one of this series, but wanted to delve in a bit deeper; which is how I found the “Got Chocolate Milk?” website. What is in chocolate milk? Here is a label:
A serving of chocolate milk is 1 cup and it contains 20-24 grams of refined sugar. That equates to two tablespoons of sugar per 1 cup serving.
Milk causes things to grow – from baby humans to baby cows, if you are consuming milk than the components of milk are looking for something to create growth in; everything from cancer to waistlines. Which is why the ads promoting milk as a way to help you lose weight are so laughable. In challenge against the claims of the dairy industry, that milk helps with weight loss numerous studies were conducted. Forty five studies showed no evidence of weight loss, two showed weight gain, and three showed weight loss. However, those three studies which showed positive effect, were conducted by one scientist and were all funded by the dairy industry. In 2007, the dairy industry was told to pull their weight loss ads due to unsubstantiated evidence. They are currently still running.
What does the dairy industry have to say about all of the adverse scientific evidence related to dairy product consumption? In Got the Facts About Milk? they asked for numerous interviews with USDA officials, but all declined to participate. Eventually they were allowed to talk to Isabel Maples, MED, RD, Media Specialist for the Dairy Association and she had some winning lines to share about dairy products. When questioned about what other sources of calcium were available, she listed more dairy products. She also stated that it was old information that dairy is bad for people with heart disease and those with heart disease can consume as much dairy products as they like. Despite an increased incidence of lactose intolerance, African Americans really need to eat more dairy as they need the nutrients. When we drink milk the hormones in milk are not active in the human body; something like a house key is not a car key. When questioned about the increased incidence of early onset puberty, especially in girls, Isabel explained that it was the increased exposure to sexual images and the fact that many girls are living with men who are not their biological fathers and it is the pheromones they are exposed to. My favorite statement though was when she said the USDA is very conservative on science.
One last thing... Ever wonder what those milk mustaches are made of? "Stewart concocted the 'stache recipe -- a strange brew that includes cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla ice cream and secret ingredients Stewart refuses to divulge. "The trick was to make it the right density and have it taste good," says Stewart. "I pour it in a glass, and they tip it until it goes about three quarters of the way from their upper lip to the nose. After a dab with a tissue [and a little brushwork] it lasts for two rolls of film."' (Obtained from http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2005/players/02/01/milk0207/)