Monday, October 13, 2008

Soapbox For the Week - Milk

Lately I've decided to buy only hormone-free milk, otherwise known as rBST-free milk. Daniel "snickered" at me (in a manly way) when I told him, but I do it anyway. Why? Because of pus and puberty.

First, the pus issue. As Beth over at The Natural Mommy so graciously pointed out, milk from cows who were given hormones causes them to produce pus, which is then introduced into their milk supply. That's right. You drink pus. You can read the whole article here, but I'll tell it to you in a nutshell, because I believe every word.

You see, some cows are given a hormone called Posilac, which causes them to produce milk for a longer time than normal. Cows normally only lactate while pregnant or nursing their newborn calves, but this hormone forces them to lactate indefinitely. If you ever breastfed your own kids, you can probably imagine how this practise would cause problems such as mastitis. Well, along with mastitis comes pus. That pus is pumped out of the cows along with the milk, and ends up in the white plastic jugs in the grocery store's dairy case. Yum.

Another problem has to do with puberty rates increasing among girls. Apparently, girls are starting to grow breasts, pubic hair, and start menstruation a lot earlier than they should, and a lot earlier than girls did in the past. Studies have even found that 8 year old girls have started menstruating, and 3 year old girls have grown breasts or pubic hair. Now the numbers of such cases are still quite small, but really, do you want to risk that for your daughter? The article is here - I highly suggest reading it. You can also check out books such as The Body Project, by Joan Jacobs Brumberg, or My Year of Meats, by Ruth Ozeki .

So, what can you really do about hormone-filled milk? For starters, stop buying it. If you have a Meijer's nearby, check out their milk labels. They sell only hormone-free milk. For the past month or so, this is the only place I've bought milk, regardless of price. Today I heard that Kroger also sells only hormone-free milk (not confirmed), and Walmart does too (as of September). Since Walmart has signed on, you should be able to get a gallon of hormone-free milk in practically any city in the US. It's also more possible to comparison shop, without worrying about who has hormones and who doesn't - as long as you comparison shop among Meijer, Kroger, and Walmart.

Another option is to buy only organic milk. I haven't yet felt the push to switch to entirely organic, or even mostly organic foods in our home, but it is an option. Certified organic milk must be hormone-free, so you know as long as the label says "certified organic," it will be safer for your family.

Now, I'll step off my soapbox for this week, but come back next week for my stand against dirty fruit.


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