HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >


Why do you drink milk?

Mark Bittman over at the NYT writes about why milk really isn't necessary in our diets.


Personally, I've never drank milk.

Hate the stuff.

I like yogurt and ice cream, but detest most cheeses, except in dessert applications and on pizza (occasionally).

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Bittman does have this habit of elevating his personal experiences and preferences to a general principle. Since the Times gave him an Op-Ed slot, it's been one campaign after another. In the end, he's an excellent cookbook author.

    Dry corn flakes or Cheerios isn't very appetizing, is it? And adding just plain water doesn't help.

    Without milk or cream, coffee is undrinkable (for me anyway) and hot tea is unappealing. Iced tea is different. Hot chocolate? Just try it without milk, either in the mix or added to it.

    And then there's ice cream. And biscuits. And any number of other appetizing foods that can't be made without milk or cream. Dietary austerity may be OK for Bittman, but not for me.

    Obviously, people with milk allergies or lactose intolerance shouldn't drink milk. I'm happy for Bittman that he's finally found out he's allergic and done what he must. But that's hardly grounds for this tirade.

    By the way, soy milk isn't the answer - people have soy allergies too. According to Wikipedia, "The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates soy is among the nine most common food allergens for pediatric and adult food allergy patients."

    I used to drink milk regularly - low-fat or skim - until I stopped a few years ago, for no particular reason and without really thinking about it, and with no change in my health pro or con. But there's always a half-gallon of milk in the fridge - for that coffee, for cereal, for cooking and baking, for whatever. Wanna make something of it, Mark?

    12 Replies
    1. re: John Francis

      "Today the Department of Agriculture’s recommendation for dairy is a mere three cups daily — still 1½ pounds by weight — for every man, woman and child over age 9. This in a country where as many as 50 million people are lactose intolerant, including 90 percent of all Asian-Americans and 75 percent of all African-Americans, Mexican-Americans and Jews."

      That seems more than personal to me. In fact, I submit that pointing out bad recommendations or practices coming from our easily purchased authorities is probably one of the best uses of newspaper editorial space.

      I don't drink milk and, with the exception of cheese, could take or leave most dairy products. Nevertheless, I thought the piece was a valid contribution to the contemporary diet conversation.

      1. re: MGZ

        If something is bad for you, don't drink it. This hardly needs "pointing out," does it?

        It certainly doesn't substantiate the radical position Bittman has chosen to take - only after the personal experience he describes way down into the column. If that experience wasn't his reason for writing the column, why didn't he write it long before - or raise the issue in his cookbooks?

      2. re: John Francis

        I wonder about the real reason for the insurgence of intolerance and allergies. I can't drink milk from the store, it would bend me over in pain. So since I was a kid, I stayed away from milk, minus the eggnog round Christmas, just paid the price every year. Random thing happened a couple years back; my dad got a glass jar of organic eggnog, I thought it was silly for spending more, but interesting enough I didn't have any problem with it. I started testing and found organic milk gives me no problem. I have since gone over to raw milk again with no problems. I'm not an organic fanatic, but our food supply is getting messed with too much. The way I would look at the question is all dairy bad? No. Is all dairy good? Absolutely not. Whether we like to admit it or not the health of the cows, what their fed, and how milk is processed afterwards all has an effect on what we consume, it's nutritional content, and whether we can properly digest it or not. Sometimes in more drastic ways than we would ever guess.

        1. re: Darkshin

          My body can't tolerate most eggs. Organic ones and the local small-farmer ones are fine.

        2. re: John Francis

          >>Dry corn flakes or Cheerios isn't very appetizing, is it? And adding just plain water doesn't help.

          I eat all my cereals dry. And, yes, water goes great with cereal. As a chaser, not a together.

          >>Without milk or cream, coffee is undrinkable (for me anyway) and hot tea is unappealing. Iced tea is different. Hot chocolate? Just try it without milk, either in the mix or added to it.

          I take my coffee black. Hot tea and milk is pretty disgusting (iced tea with milk, e.g. boba, is different). No milk in my hot chocolate.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Awesome ipsedixit. My friend believes that all dairy is bad except for mother's milk for babies. , Dairy is processed and very dense to begin with.
            I am slowly coming around to my friend's way of thinking. I remember the commercial "milk it does a body good." Now I think "milk it does a body bad." But I'm not giving up all dairy quite yet. Cheese and ice cream are just too tempting.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Chacun a son gout. Despite what Bittman says.

            2. re: John Francis

              It's unfortunate Bittman used himself as a barometer to make a nutritional statement about milk, and got a handful of facts wrong in the article, including the main one related to his own malady.

              While whole milk can contribute to reflux or GERD because of the fat, low-fat milk reduces reflux.

              As part of his reason for giving up milk, he cited the high percentage of calories (55%) that come from the lactose sugar in milk, saying milk is like soda pop. But that "fact" is inaccurate -- lactose is 40% of milk's total calories with a huge nutritional boost, whereas soda pop gets 100% of its calories from sugar with no nutritional benefit.

              I'm not jumping on the bandwagon that says drink more cow's milk, and I'm especially not saying that to those with some phenotypic variation for whom milk causes distress (among them my brothers).

              What I *am* saying is that the Bittman story about milk is inaccurate and poorly researched and could have gone a lot further to clarify misinformation related to milk allergy, lactose intolerance and his own malady instead of contributing to the misinformation that's out there.

              1. re: John Francis

                I go with almond milk. It's mostly to wet my cereal. About the only dairy I eat is cheese and butter. I don't care much for milk itself.

                1. re: Jackie007

                  I've switched to unsweetened almond milk (around 9 months ago)...more calcium (though I know it's added to it), -0- sugars, waaay less calories. I was borderline osteopenic last year so am trying to increase my calcium consumption with more leafy greens, etc., more Vit D3, and more weight bearing exercise. So we'll see if there's any improvement. Never had allergy issues with dairy milk so I do still eat Greek yogurt and some cheese (mostly goat cheese though)...and when I DO taste dairy milk now, I can really taste the sweetness in it!

                2. re: John Francis

                  Quote: Bittman does have this habit of elevating his personal experiences and preferences to a general principle.

                  no kidding, one of the reasons I can't stand him.

                  1. re: John Francis

                    Agreed. Also, milk is delicious and a staple ingredient in my culture's foods. Hell, my people have been dairy farming since BCE (according to some food history website). Am I supposed to cut milk cause Bittman says so?. If it makes you sick, don't drink it. Drink soy milk, a frankenfood that promotes estrogen production. Great for developing man-boobs if you're so inclined.

                  2. I don't drink milk, never have, not even as a kid. Don't like it in my coffee and don't eat cereal. However, I find it necessary for many of the things that I like to cook.

                    I have actually begun to wonder if I have developed a mild lactose intolerance. I got a stomach ache every time I've had ice cream the past couple of years.

                    15 Replies
                    1. re: kengk

                      If you don't eat milk for awhile, you do develop lactose intolerance. From what I remember, it's because you shouldn't really be drinking it after the breast feeding phase, if you continue on a regular basis you can digest it with whatever enzymes your body produces, but after awhile of no dairy you loose them. Happened to my Mom a few years ago, she wanted to follow some wacky diet that eliminated a bunch of things, now her stomach gets very upset if she has more than a bite of cheese or ice cream. Has to use Lactaid.

                      That said, I eat lots of yogurt and cheese, and have a carton of half and half or cream on hand for cooking. But to just drink a glass of milk doesn't appeal to me on any level; my husband's family get annoyed when they are here for dinner and I serve cake....they are SHOCKED that I don't serve a glass of milk with it automatically. One time I bought some local milk as a treat for them, the kind with the cream on top, and my SIL poured it down the drain because she thought it went bad. For awhile I was using goats milk in my coffee, when I offered her that she acted like I was giving her poison, again down the drain. Now they get coffee with their dessert (of course I offer cream with it) and that's that. I secretly feel like it's sort of juvenile to just drink a glass of plain milk. There, I said it!

                      1. re: coll

                        Guess I'm a 55 yr. old juvenile then, 'cos I love the stuff--always have, always will.

                        Bottoms up!! :)

                        1. re: KSlink

                          Sorry if that sounded rude, I'm thinking about it and realize I have issues from childhood of HAVING to drink milk with everything. Still rebelling against it I guess.

                          1. re: KSlink

                            I'm with you, KSlink, been glugging moo for decades and don't plan to stop. While I don't necessarily agree that milk falls into the bad-for-you category (unless you are actually intolerant of it), it wouldn't necessarily stop me from enjoying it even if I was presented with irrefutable evidence. I eat and drink all sorts of things that aren't terrifically good for me -- fried food, alcohol, fatty things -- because they taste good. To me, milk tastes good.

                          2. re: coll

                            Don't they know that civilized people drink port with cake?

                            1. re: MGZ

                              I can get them to drink anisette, since that's their family tradition! Hmmm, wonder how anisette flavored milk would go over?

                              1. re: coll

                                Don't know if it would go over, but it might come back up.

                                1. re: coll

                                  I make a drink that only I seem to love, with high test Kahlua (Especial), Pastis (Anise liqueur) and milk. I use 1% milk and several ice cubes, with a 2:1 ratio of Kahlua to Pastis. It makes a very tall glass. Obviously, you have to like anise/black licorice, but I love this drink. It's pretty much the only way I drink milk.

                                  1. re: 1sweetpea

                                    Anything with Kahlua is A-OK with me!

                              2. re: coll

                                Um no. I was vegan for a few years and went back to an omnivore diet I hadn't become lactose intolerant.

                                1. re: rasputina

                                  So maybe it's different for different people then? It happened to my brother and mother after that diet, definitely; but I had lactose intolerance for no reason like that when I was younger. Old age seems to have taken it away however, hallelujah! Must run in the family.

                                  1. re: coll

                                    I've heard lactose intolerance described by a food chemist and microbiologist as being like a bad radio -- it can fade in and out. Not that this is true for everyone, but for some sufferers. Apparently, the enzyme for digestion can become dormant and then re-activate. What this means is that you can be lactose intolerant at one point in your life, and then not at another point in your life.

                                    Also, threshold becomes important. A little bit of lactose might be OK -- usually what is described as anywhere between 2 and 5% in a food -- whereas more than that might trigger distress. Unfortunately, the threshold for everyone is different.

                                    Also of note -- there are many non-dairy foods with lactose.

                                    Finally, ice cream. I've done some digging and noticed the amount of lactose varies widely by brand. Some have none; others have a bit.

                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                      From what I understand about it, LACTASE is an enzyme which enables or enhances the absorbtion of lactose.

                                      However lactase being an enzyme is destroyed during pasteruization.
                                      So people who feel they are lactose intolerant often do quite well with unpasteurized milk because the lactase is still viable. i.e not destroyed by heat.

                                      1. re: Sparklebright

                                        Lactase is an enzyme located in the intestines. It breaks down lactose into its two component sugars -- glucose and galactose -- so that they can be digested.

                                        Lactase is not in unpasteurized milk, though there are many claims to that effect
                                        on raw milk websites.

                                      2. re: maria lorraine

                                        Interesting--goes along with what an MD friend told me during pregnancy--that my tolerance might increase. I do remember drinking milk at that point, something that doesn't normally appeal that much to me.

                                        But it's not the issue for me that it is for some of my friends

                              3. I pretty much live on water, skim milk and seltzer. I drink milk because my doctor recommends it as one of the foods to ward off osteoporosis and because I love it! My mother serves skim milk at every dinner and unless it soean't go well with what I am eating (think Asian food) I still drink milk. I always have a half gallon in the fridge and it takes me about 6 days to drink it. Usually I am out by shoppIng day. there are just two of us here and he barely ever uses milk.

                                12 Replies
                                1. re: melpy

                                  Melpy dairy causes osteoporosis. Your body has to release calcium in order to neutralize the milk.

                                  1. re: givemecarbs

                                    Why do you think that? I can't find a source that includes recent studies and isn't promoting a particular diet agenda. The most I can find is that diet doesn't seem to have a big effect on bone density--one way or the other. Other things--exercise and Vitamin D--matter far more in adults. In other words, yes, Swedes and Brits have higher levels of osteoporosis than Pacific Islands *and* they drink more dairy, but they also see a lot less sunshine and do less weight-bearing exercise, which are the critical factors.

                                    1. re: urbavore

                                      It is true urbavore that the information about how bad dairy is for you is found from sources promoting a healthier diet. If you feel these sources have an axe to grind I can understand where you are coming from. Dairy is dense and highly processed. Many people are saying that processed food is not good for us.
                                      I hang out once in awhile in a raw vegan cafe in a nearby town. The people who go there and especially those that work there mostly appear to be in their late twenties. Most of them are in their mid fourties. And they all have a ridiculous amount of energy, so much so that they are kind of annoying. :)

                                      1. re: givemecarbs

                                        I believe--as should be clear from my posts--in looking at multiple sources. I own multiple vegetarian cookbooks--including a raw one. The theories on which the raw diet are based are, well, half-baked.

                                        Not sure what you mean by "highly processed". Yes, milk is heated and blended--but I don't see a list of 20 ingredients and high-fructose corn syrup. I've made butter and I've made yogurt--there are stages in each, but they're pretty straightforward.

                                        Because I like to experiment with food, I've done both vegan and raw diets. You can, I've found, find an unhealthy diet in any regime. I didn't feel any stronger or youthful during my veggie/raw regimes--though I found raw, in particular, antisocial. It demands a lot of accommodation. By the time you've sprouted and dehydrated your way to a mediocre-tasting "bread" it's pretty clear that your food is no longer "alive" in any meaningful way.

                                        While I am an omnivore, I already eat a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables--my husband's a serious gardener, we also do farmer's markets and even occasionally forage. And, yes, I'm healthy and, yes, I look young for my age--though it's mostly that I've never liked the sun, don't smoke and have never been overweight.

                                        And while I don't have any raw vegan buddies, I do have an overweight vegan friend--healthy, but nothing that stands out in terms of age or energy. I know vegetarians who are thin and fit and ones who never have been. Potato chips are vegan--but they're still not good for you.

                                        Milk and cheese should, IMO, be consumed in moderation in that they're high-fat foods. But, then, I don't feel the *need* to eat large amounts of them. (So, yes, I think the USDA recommendation overdoes it for many adults.)

                                        I believe in moderation, not in miracle diets. Though I am going to try raw milk and see if I notice much of a difference in taste and digestibility.

                                        1. re: urbavore

                                          Raw milk is the bomb! Let us know how it works out for you. So creamy and tasty.
                                          Yeah twinkie vegans make me /facepalm. I have half and half in my fridge right now from TJ's. I figure the more fat the better as it acts as a buffer and doesn't shock the system quite as much.
                                          Have you ever tried green smoothies urbavore? The raw cafe was offering one 16 ounce green smoothie a day for the whole month of november last year. I decided to go for it and was surprised that I went down a size and had a ridiculous amount of energy just from that one change in my diet. I was expecting nothing.

                                          1. re: givemecarbs

                                            I've not had a green smoothie--I seem to be a taster, possibly a supertaster and cruciferous veggies taste bitter to me. I eat them, but I have to be careful about their preparation. I do notice, though, that I feel better and more energetic when the garden veggies are in and I'm picking dinner from the garden. I've noticed that I pine for vegetables if I'm not getting enough of them. In that sense, I'm a fan of vegetables--and, actually, a lot of raw vegetables. I just don't like demonizing foods--though HFCS is an exception. But, then, I'm not convinced that it's a food. It's a caloric substance of dubious merit.

                                            But, anyway, I could see an infusion of leafy greens in November would be a real energy boost.

                                            There's Italian fresh mozarella in the fridge, basil and tomatoes in the garden--off to assemble caprese.

                                            1. re: urbavore

                                              I am so glad to hear that someone else is sensitive to cruciferous veggies. I heard a report on NPR years ago about this and was so relieved. I have always thought brussels sprouts, etc were gross. Some say I am making excuses for not liking some vegetables.

                                              1. re: randyjl

                                                I actually took a test for it back in a middle-school science class--blech. Then, when I came across a list of cruciferous vegetables--it was like looking at a list of all the vegetables I disliked. The only one I liked was cauliflower, though I can taste the stuff there, too. It's just mild. Lemon helps. Vinegar helps. Salt helps. Parmesan helps. Caramelization helps. Bacon helps--though that gets in the way of the whole good-for-your-health part.

                                                1. re: urbavore

                                                  After 15 years of marriage I'm finally getting resolved to my wife's sensitivity to "bitter" as it applies to vegetables. Her: "this tastes bitter" Me: "WTF!, it's not in the least bitter".

                                                  1. re: kengk

                                                    Yep, the taster/supertaster thing is a lot more common in women. I wonder if it's a bit Darwinian--i.e. a male who can eat everything can take in more calories, whereas a women sensitive to bitter tastes may be more likely to avoid foods that are bad for a fetus. (Shrug.) There are all sorts of weird things that register a bit differently for me--I can never drink black coffee. I love sweets, but many sweets are too sweet for me and wine always tastes bitter. That one makes me feel bad--I'd like to be able to enjoy wine more.

                                                    1. re: urbavore

                                                      Here's a link on sensitivity to tastes and bitterness that you may find interesting:


                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                        Thanks Maria, so my terminology's pop and out-of-date. As I said above, I did taste that blooming taste strip and it was awful. On the other hand, cilantro never tastes soapy to me, so I'm okay on that genetic front. What you write about bitterness as being one note in the whole kind of fits my own experience-I like spicy food, but I do notice the components. As I said, I eat cruciferous veggies, but I'm careful about how I prepare them. On the other hand, I've never thought I had a super-acute sense of smell. It's good enough, but I had a friend who was a med student who could used her sense of smell to help certain diagnoses.

                                2. I love milk, even skim, and will often have a glass as my dessert. When I feel like livin' large, I go for 1 or 2 percent, and for super- special occasions, or if I'm feeling sentimental, I spring for whole, which tastes like cream if you're accustomed to skim! My dear, departed grandmother always had a half-gallon of whole milk on hand. Makes the BEST chocolate pudding for sure!

                                  1. Bittman is right, and there are many things that are not "necessary" in our lives as a whole. However, if there is no ice cold milk available (I likes 1%) I will not eat cakes, pies,cookies, doughnuts, brownies, fudge, pbj, pancakes, french toast, waffles, pastries of any kind or most puddings, so there!

                                    1. Milk lover here, too. Used to drink whole milk into my teens, often a liter at a time (great for that after-thirst in the morning).

                                      These days, it's the only beverage I can accept with breakfast/brunch -- OJ is too sweet and sticky, water isn't flavorful enough, and I don't drink coffee with my food.

                                      I have about a 6 oz. glass of skim milk every day for breakfast, and use whole milk (half & half in the US) in my coffee.

                                      There is no substitute for fresh milk. Soy? Almond? Gag.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: linguafood

                                        In my teens, and before the invention of Gatorade, I would guzzle, even quaff a lot of milk after ninety degree football practice. Nothing better.

                                      2. Like most editorials, the idea was to get you to think and debate. It does that. For me, an avid whole milk drinker (1 gal of whole milk maybe every 5 days?) and also coming from working in a assisted living community, i can only talk in my experience with lactose intolerancy of older people.

                                        With older men and women, lactose intolerancy is blurred and can be exploited. I'll explain it. In assisted living, especially this company i worked for, a majority of its residents had mild to high levels of dimentia. Nurses, LPN's and CMA's told me that there are more than a few people with dimentia that have persistent pain. So when they come to a meal, eat, then complain of the more common symptoms (bloating, cramps, nausea) a knee-jerk reaction is for lactose intolerancy by a family member who are the ones that can set policy on how their relatives' care is set out. The main, for sure way of knowing is testing and i don't think there was but 1 out of 8 in a 70 person community that was tested. And in assisted living (or healthcare in general i think) if it isn't documented and noted, it doesn't exist.

                                        Just wanted to share that perspective on it.

                                        1. I loved milk as a kid. Mom gave it to me 3 times a day. Whole milk. I couldn't get enough. I'd sit down at the dinner table and gulp my whole glass down, then pick at the food because I just filled my belly!
                                          DH and I are now not milk drinkers proper, but we use it in all its forms and delight in it. Cheese especially.
                                          I'll never give it up!

                                          1. Quote:
                                            "Then, of course, there are our 9 million dairy cows, most of whom live tortured, miserable lives"

                                            I'm surprised nobody has jumped on this comment. Don't think it's true (I don't) or don't care?

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: kengk

                                              I've been looking this one up--and it's hard to find good info. so far. Yes, Clover is organic and, yes, it's a big business--$100 million-plus--which for one Web site meant it must be evil. But I don't dismiss a company simply because it's profitable. What I don't know is if it owns its own herds and they're in factory conditions or if it's buying milk from co-ops owned by smaller farmers who pasture their cows.

                                              Some practices (docking tails) seem to be on their way out (it's now illegal in California.), others seem to be on the rise (larger and larger dairy operations with the attendant factory issues.) Monsanto seems to be the bad guy again in that it's pushing against labeling milk free of rGBH. Why shouldn't I have the right to know if there's growth hormones in my milk? So, Boo Monsanto!

                                              In some cases, there's truly conflicting info--i.e. the average dairy cow lives for four years v. 10 gestations for a dairy cow with each gestational cycle occurring over 14 months, which would result in a 14-15 year old cow. I expect "average" in this case is misleading as it could include calves culled early from the herd, but damned if I can tell.

                                              Also don't know what "tortured, miserable" means for a cow.

                                              1. re: urbavore

                                                My family was in the beef cattle business and my Grandfather was a dairyman before my memory. Cows are culled if they don't produce, either marketable calves or milk. Period. End of the story. Dairy breed bull calves approach worthlessness from an economic standpoint. In some areas they might be salable and in some not.

                                                Animals are sometimes abused, so are human children, and adults for that matter.

                                                They are running the bulls in Fermi this week. So very cruel. Bulls that go in the ring are at least three years old. Most of our beef is from steers that are not much over a year old. I know which end I would prefer.

                                                1. re: kengk

                                                  I've been surfing about the Internet some more and came across Cornucopia.org's organic dairy scorecard. The ratings include size, type of ownership, treatment of cows, pasture situation, use of antibiotics, hormones, culling rates--which organic brands rely on factory farming and which don't.

                                                  Some of the results are quite interesting--Costco, Trader Joe's and Safeway use factory farms for their organic milk, while Lucky's and SaveMart (in California and Nevada) use a supplier that gets a four out of five cow rating.

                                                  It's definitely worth a look.

                                                  1. re: urbavore

                                                    What's interesting is that all Trader Joe's organic milk is not alike. It's sourced regionally, so while they may use factory-farmed brands in some areas, not everywhere. Specifically, in the SF Bay Area stores where I live, the regular and cream-top organic milks are sourced from Clover and Straus respectively (this has been proven by checking plant codes on http://whereismymilkfrom.com, a very useful site for identifying the source of store brands). Clover and Straus both get four-out-of-five ratings on Cornucopia.org.

                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                      Ooh, cool, more links! You know, the funny thing is, if you're in the Bay Area, you see a fair number of cows ranging about on the hills. You read, then, about factory farming and it's all kind of a question mark--just what cows are those anyway. I've thought they were dairy herds. Looks like they are.

                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                quite a few years ago baskin robbins heir wrote interesting book on diet including going veg and no dairy. political.

                                                most organic milk is ultra pastuerized.
                                                controversy about whether whole milk or reduced fat is better for you.
                                                a serving of 2% milk has more fat than small serving of french fries. 2% milk has more than half the fat of whole milk and is not considered a low fat food.
                                                90% asians lactose intolerant? not in my experience.

                                                1. re: divadmas

                                                  I love my morning glass of 2% in a frozen glass! One of life's simple pleasures.

                                                2. I am not a glass-of-milk drinker, but I found the hectoring tone of that op-ed incredibly annoying and self-centered. I found more interest in the reader-recommended comments below it--one of which pointed out the problems with Bittman's "facts" about the dairy industry.

                                                  Anyway, I'm probably a lactose malabsorber--i.e. milk's fine in small amounts--my coffee, a small bowl of ice cream--and in forms where the lactose is broken down--cheese and yogurt. I like to bake and I like butter--substitutions are just that--substitutions.

                                                  As for the history of humans and dairy--well, it's pretty simple--Northern Europeans tend to be more lactose-tolerant because their survival in cold climates depended on herd animals--you think Laplanders can't digest reindeer milk? Other groups have also been dependent on their herd animals and the resulting dairy products, be it nomadic Tibetans and yak butter tea or Siberian nomads and yogurt.

                                                  I am *so* sick of the evil food of the week--excuse me while I go eat something in moderation--oh,yes, I'm trying out a lemon-buttermilk ice pops tonight. The buttermilk is cultures, so lactose is a non-issue. I expect to thoroughly enjoy them.

                                                  22 Replies
                                                  1. re: urbavore

                                                    My mother pushed milk on me really hard. When I hit my early twenties I started having stomach problems. I drank more milk in an attempt to "settle" my stomach. It got worse; I learned about lactose intolerance and stopped dairy. A miracle! I felt so much better immediately. A few weeks later, I stopped at a Haagen-Dazs store and got some vanilla. Two bites in, pain and misery that lasted for two days.

                                                    I then had terrible trouble with all dairy for years; used Lactaid pills and drops sometimes. Learned more about nutrition and digestive health. I restored my intestinal flora over a number of years, and now I could drink a glass of milk and only feel slightly bloated.

                                                    I just don't want to now - it no longer appeals to me.

                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                      <<A few weeks later, I stopped at a Haagen-Dazs store and got some vanilla. Two bites in, pain and misery that lasted for two days.>>

                                                      Lactose is removed during the manufacturing of commercial ice cream (it makes ice cream gritty -- like it has sand in it) so I doubt you're reacting to that -- but you are suffering. Perhaps it's a milk allergy, and you can investigate which particular dairy proteins you can digest (perhaps not casein, but goat milk, etc.)

                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                        I love the taste of milk. It may or may not be good for me. It helps me to have strong bones. May be bad for my heart. I don't have milk for every meal as I used to. But Iove the taste. A cold glass of milk, it doesn't get any better.

                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                          Fascinating. Now I know why ice cream hasn't been a problem, whereas I just kind of lost interest in drinking milk around 11--curiously, I began to like cheese better around the same time. Probably some sort of compensation.

                                                          Thanks for both your posts. Bittman's article seemed to filled with all sorts of misinformation. I knew he was way off on the use of dairy products by humans--it really goes back to the dawn of agriculture and animal husbandry. Our physiology has, in fact, had time to adopt, which is why northern European adults are more likely to tolerate lactose than Chinese. Another writer pointed out that Bittman's description of the American dairy industry was way off. You've pointed out the issues with his medical facts.

                                                          I don't mind thought-provoking, but I really hate sloppiness--makes me want to give away the Bittman cookbook I got as a gift.

                                                          1. re: urbavore

                                                            I've usually had some issue with Bittman whenever I encounter him. Not sure how to pinpoint it, but his info usually seems just a bit off. I think he could be a creature of impulse/emotion who pumps out a LOT of info to the media - I don't know how it could possibly all be edited/tested/verified.

                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                              Healthy skepticism would be a start--there are writers on food issues who are a lot more rigorous about fact-checking and questioning their own assumptions.

                                                              1. re: urbavore

                                                                Do I hear the sound of a new thread? Who do you rely upon for food issues info?

                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                  That does have thread possibilities. I like to see references to peer-reviewed studies, some analysis of them and both sides of an argument. Even peer-reviewed studies can and do have major flaws--i.e. the wrong conclusion is reached, a control wasn't included; the study was too small or too short to warrant the larger conclusions drawn.

                                                          2. re: maria lorraine

                                                            maria lorraine, thanks, but I am fine with some dairy now, as noted in my post. I just don't choose to eat much of it, except for butter, cheese, and in baked goods. O.K., some occasional ice cream! It no longer bothers me.

                                                            I have never heard about lactose being removed from ice cream in the processing - has this always been so? I feel skeptical here for some reason.

                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                              Regular ice cream is not lactose free.

                                                              1. re: kengk

                                                                Thank you, kengk. maria lorraine, you are very knowledgeable, but this one doesn't pass the smell test.....

                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                  As part of my work, I attended an ice cream technology conference, and problems with lactose in milk was one of the major topics. The lactose causes an undesirable texture, like that of sand, in ice cream.

                                                                  That's the source of my info, and how I know it is removed. This information nothing new -- lactose as being problematic in ice cream manufacturing has been all the tech materials I've read going back 15 years.

                                                                  You'll note that on most charts that detail the amount of lactose in foods that the amount in ice cream is non-existent, or quite low, dependent on the amount of lactose that is removed.

                                                                  Here's one chart on the lactose content of foods as a reference:

                                                                  So again, check the label. And if you're like most folks, you may be able to tolerate a little bit of lactose, but not a lot. The trick is learning your individual threshold.

                                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                    My lactose issues go back 30 years or so; your data go back 15, so it's hard to tell.

                                                                    So again, check my other two posts - I NO LONGER HAVE ISSUES WITH LACTOSE.

                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                      Yes, got your message that you no longer have issues several times. Glad to hear. Some of the information was posted to help other readers.

                                                                      Just to be clear, you doubted the lactose was removed before ice cream manufacturing, and I gave you what firsthand information I had regarding that, and the professional context in which I received it.

                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                        Your own link says that the lactose content of ice cream varies by recipe. There is lactose free ice cream but most common ice creams are not lactose free.

                                                                        Look it up.

                                                                        1. re: kengk

                                                                          Yeah, I just googled around and some even say that the lactose is slightly higher in ice cream than in milk.

                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                            I doubt that simply because there seems to be less lactose in cream than in milk and "ice cream" is required to have a pretty high level of butterfat--i.e. cream. Although, it's usually a custardy, thicker base--i.e. you're removing water--so there's more of whatever's left behind--fats, sugar--by volume. Which might be why at lease some ice-cream manufacturers would remove lactose, replacing it with other sugars that freeze more smoothly . . . I'm completely hypothesizing here.

                                                                            1. re: urbavore

                                                                              It's an interesting topic and it now has my curiosity going.....I do know, though, that thirty years ago when a few sips of milk caused turmoil to my poor digestive system, ice cream did the same. It is a specific feeling that is not easily mistaken.

                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                Ice cream is loaded with eggs and fat along with whatever sugar--if you were already having a reaction to something, I'm not surprised that it set you off. When I was pregnant, any sort of fat really set off the nausea. (Yes, I lost weight.) I don't think ice cream's like cheese, where some convenient little bacteria has predigested the lactose for you--and since it sounds like different ice creams have different recipes, yours may have had a bunch of lactose in it.

                                                                                Milk doesn't make me sick, per se, but I don't digest it well--I seem to be fortunate in that my family never insisted on my eating or drinking a specific thing--so it wasn't a big deal when I stopped drinking it at every meal.

                                                                        2. re: maria lorraine

                                                                          There is definitely lactose in ice cream - unless the lactose has been removed for the purpose of selling lactose-free ice cream. :) In fact, lactose is part of one of the essential components of ice cream (Milk solids-not-fat). HOWEVER, an excess of lactose is not good for producing smooth ice cream, so I can understand your confusion. Also, the chart you linked to indicates that the amount of lactose varies by recipe - not that there are zero grams of it in ice cream.


                                                                          I don't like milk, never have. I like ice cream, but it does not like me. But, I did have an RNY gastric bypass ten years ago which (obviously) altered my digestion in many, many, ways. I always fault the combo of fat, sugar, and lactose in ice cream for making me feel sick. If I overindulge on any of the three separately, I am fine.

                                                                          1. re: Justpaula

                                                                            Lactose is not at all an essential component of ice cream. I stand by the information I've received, justpaula. In the four-day ice cream tech conference I attended, I was surrounded by ice cream scientists, specialists in their field, with far more insider ice cream manufacturing knowledge than another person writing on this thread.

                                                                            After I posted, I again researched the scientific literature and found the problems I had stated with lactose written in the tech literature as before. Some/most/all lactose is removed during ice cream manufacturing. I urge others to check the scientific literature if they doubt my statements (Google Scholar) about lactose causing textural problems during ice cream manufacturing (sandiness, grittiness).

                                                                            Now, how much lactose is removed by an individual manufacturer is a different story. Some brands have little lactose remaining; others have a bit more. The cutoff point for causing symptoms is generally agreed to be 2% lactose, according to the several research sources I have checked.

                                                                            Bottom line is how much lactose -- QUANTIFIED -- is in foods you enjoy: yogurt, hard cheese, soft cheese, lunchmeats,and all the other non-dairy products that contain lactose. Surprise-- prescription medicines have lots of lactose.

                                                                            And what amount -- QUANTIFIED IN GRAMS -- is your system able to handle? What is your individual tolerance level, which differs for everyone?

                                                                            Is it lactose intolerance at all? Or is it milk allergy? Or is a reaction to BST or beneficial flora? Or, are you symptoms a reaction to something completely different and you have misdiagnosed yourself? (No need to justify it to me, just be accurate for your own sake.)

                                                                            Lactose intolerance is an odd thing. More people claim to be lactose intolerant than actually are. On the flip side, many people are intolerant and unaware of it.

                                                                            Many people actually have a casein allergy and are fine with milk not from a cow.
                                                                            It's always best to know concretely what is wrong, rather than just guessing.

                                                                            As far as post-bypass eating, as you probably know, sugar is the big behemoth symptom producer. I'm sure other enzymatic and/or digestive processes have changed for you as well since your surgery (congratulations, BTW), making it more difficult to isolate the lactose as the causative agent of your distress. But this is for another thread.

                                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                              Oh. I was just confused, because in your initial post you said:

                                                                              "Lactose is removed during the manufacturing of commercial ice cream (it makes ice cream gritty -- like it has sand in it) so I doubt you're reacting to that".

                                                                              "Lactose is removed..." sounded like a pretty absolute statement. And then you offered the other poster other things she may be reacting too (and I agree that there are far more reasons to react to ice cream than just lactose and frankly, if something makes you sick just ditch it or eat it rarely and in SMALL quantities).

                                                                              But, lactose is not entirely removed from most ice cream during the manufacturing process as you just clarified in your post above. The amount of lactose varies from brand to brand. AND, the chart you originally included even had separate lines for "Ice Cream" and "Lactose-Free Ice Cream", that differentiation would lead most people to believe that ice creams have lactose, unless specified as lactose-free. As far as I know, there are only one or two major brands currently marketing lactose-free ice cream made from cow's milk.

                                                                              Anyway, I have read several documents and both whey and Milk SNF contain lactose and both or either are used in making ice cream. As I said in my previous post, unless the intention is to produce a lactose-free ice cream, all ice creams have some lactose in them. This is another interesting document from the U.S Dairy Export Council, particularly about using whey products in the manufacture of ice cream, but there is a bulk of info about other factors. It clearly states that there " must be lactose crystallization in virtually all dairy-based
                                                                              frozen dairy desserts", it goes on to explain controlling lactose levels and the sandy effect that an excess of it can create. Here is an excerpt on the:

                                                                              Lactose Content: An important factor
                                                                              is the total lactose content of the mix. To
                                                                              minimize lactose crystallization (also known
                                                                              as "sandiness" in frozen dairy desserts), it
                                                                              is advisable to reduce the lactose content
                                                                              of mixes to below 7.5%. Lactose solubility
                                                                              is limited and varies with a number of
                                                                              factors. Although there must be lactose
                                                                              crystallization in virtually all dairy-based
                                                                              frozen dairy desserts, the amount of lactose
                                                                              and the size of the actual lactose crystals
                                                                              are critical to detection of “sandiness.”
                                                                              By managing the lactose content, both the
                                                                              likelihood of lactose crystallization and
                                                                              the size of the lactose crystals can be
                                                                              reduced. This simple recommendation can
                                                                              help prevent sandy defects. Of course, the
                                                                              lower the lactose content the less likely it
                                                                              is that the lactose can or will contribute to
                                                                              “sandiness.” The contribution of lactose
                                                                              from all dairy ingredients must be known,
                                                                              calculated and controlled


                                                                              So, it is quite possible that sandylc may actually be lactose intolerant. Sure it can be many other things, but telling her that "Lactose is removed during the manufacturing of commercial ice cream (it makes ice cream gritty -- like it has sand in it) so I doubt you're reacting to that", was not quite right.

                                                        2. It's a big part of the Irish diet and we have excellent quality fresh dairy products.
                                                          I drink full fat, lightly pasturised, unhomogenised milk because its easy to get here.

                                                          I have cut back a bit since my dietary requirements change, but I still drink it in tea/coffee or on its own every day. I'd also often have cream/butter or cheese in a day.
                                                          Yogurt I like, but its not a every week thing.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: merrua

                                                            I'm of Irish descent and I like milk quite a bit, although now I drink only skim. It also cures me of heartburn. It doesn't give it to me.

                                                            In defense of Bittman, he is of an age when most parents were browbeaten into believing they should force cow's f milk down their kids' throats at every single meal. In America, that meant a lot of kids with a lactose intolerance, whose parents were not from Northern Europe, but from southern, central or Eastern europe, were miserable and had upset stomachs a lot of the time.

                                                            Whatever one's personal issues with lactose intolerance or milk taste, EVERYBODY needs to worry about the amount of antibiotics and hormones given to dairy cows in America. Pre-pubescent and pubescent girls especially should only drink organic cow's milk if they are big milk drinkers. The antibiotics routinely given to cows hooked to milking machines to keep them from getting udder infections and ulcerns find their way into milk and into ground water. It's a very bad thing. Bittman is right to be sounding alarms even if it irritates foodies.

                                                            1. re: barberinibee

                                                              There's sounding alarms and then there's hysteria. Bittman didn't do basic research or, apparently, talk to more than one side of the debate. Given that he's got the New York Times as a pulpit, it's inexcusable. I don't say this as a foodie, but as someone who likes accuracy. I share a lot of the concerns about factory farming and antibiotics, but Bittman undermines himself by his factual sloppiness.

                                                          2. I adore it - skin, whole, cream-on-top... I physically crave milk and would drink it with every meal if I could. I was a wine writer and often prefer milk over wine.

                                                            There were times in my life that I was drinking upwards of three gallons a week - by myself. I'm down to about a gallon a week for weight reasons. There are some meals where milk tastes best: chili, fried chicken, pot roast; Americana dishes.

                                                            Love it, love it, love it...

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: CarrieWas218

                                                              I love milk but those are dishes that I personally would never have milk with. Burgers, dogs, fried chicken, chili, can't do it for some reason. Sandwiches, regular dinners and of course desserts - give me a big cold glass of skim. But anything fried or bbq'ed, doesn't make sense to me.

                                                            2. I drink milk because I acquired a taste for it in childhood, when we had a milkman and . When I drink it, I tend to drink whole milk, ice cold. I love ice cream, yogurt, cheeses, cream, butter, all types of dairy. I also love goat's milk and goat cheese, though they're different experiences altogether. I take cream in my coffee and milk in my Irish breakfast tea and iced coffee; iced tea I take lemon only.

                                                              In addition to the cold applications (above), I also enjoy incorporating dairy to sauces, chowders, desserts (hot and cold, flans, etc)

                                                              1. The connection between feeding infants cow's milk and diabetes, only mentioned in the article, merits more attention. Here's a link chosen for brevity http://articles.latimes.com/1992-07-3...
                                                                Not to mention prostate cancer. On the other hand, life without butter would be rough indeed.

                                                                24 Replies
                                                                1. re: demitasse04

                                                                  That article is 20 years old and it states that they should have an answer in 10 years. I wonder what it was?

                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                    Well, in 2001 the journal Diabetes-Metabolism-Research-And-Reviews pulblished a paper whose "observations suggest that ... introduction of cows' milk-based infant formula predispose young children who are genetically susceptible to Type I diabetes to progressive signs of beta-cell autoimmunity". Would seem to be answer (just polished off a cup of Dulce de Leche Haagen Dazs)

                                                                    1. re: demitasse04

                                                                      The correlation between drinking cow's milk and developing Type 1 diabetes is extremely small, almost non-existent.

                                                                      This is according to 2009 Finnish study of 156 children with the Type 1 genetic predisposition and 563 control children.

                                                                      The risk of developing autoimmune Type 1 diabetes among infant milk drinkers with the genetic predisposition was very small: "P <or= 0.004."

                                                                      The risk for all children was "P <or= 0.001."

                                                                      The risk was non-existent for children older than 6 months who drank milk.

                                                                      A 2008 study also found that even in infants who were at risk for autoimmune Type 1 diabetes, drinking milk triggered antibodies in 12.5% of them, 8 of 94 children. This is more
                                                                      about a dysregulated immune response to an external stimuli than it is about milk.

                                                                      Here is the entire list of medical studies on milk and type 1 diabetes from The National Library of Medicine:

                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                        "Drinking milk caused increased immune system antibodies in only 12.5% of children (8 children out of 94 in a 2008 study). "

                                                                        ONLY??????? Those are not great odds....

                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                          These were children who already had immune system disruption.

                                                                          They just made some antibodies to milk. They didn't get Type I diabetes from milk.

                                                                          Huge difference.

                                                                          "We studied a subgroup of 94 children randomized to be weaned to a CM-based infant formula in the trial to reduce insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in the genetically at risk (TRIGR) pilot study. All subjects carried human leukocyte antigen-conferred T1D susceptibility and had an affected first-degree relative. After 7 years of follow-up, 8 subjects had progressed to T1D, 15 had at least one disease-associated autoantibody, and 71 remained autoantibody negative (controls). Immunoglobulin (Ig) G and IgA class antibodies to whole CM formula, beta-lactoglobulin (BLG), bovine serum albumin, and alpha-casein and IgG antibodies to bovine insulin (BI) were measured with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays from sequential samples." http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18...

                                                                  2. re: demitasse04

                                                                    Ironically, incorporating dairy into the diet aids weight loss in many, according to even more recent studies, which would certainly not hurt re. Type II diabetes.

                                                                    So, to each, his/her own.

                                                                    1. re: demitasse04

                                                                      Thanks for the link demitasse! You sound like a kindred spirit. While I was posting about how dairy causes osteoporosis., your body has to release calcium in order to neutralize the milk, I was chewing on a bagel slathered with butter and goat cheese. /blush. But I was eating my snack because I enjoy it and it made me happy not because any part of it was good for me.
                                                                      Thanks to the OP for starting this thread. We hounds may disagree but we keep it civil. Woot!

                                                                      1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                        I'm of the belief that all this calcium nonsense has caused all kinds of disorders, including "fibromyalgia" due to a Cal-Mag imbalance from unwise/unbalanced mineral supplementation. Not to mention potential kidney stones, gout, and all kinds of other things related to hypercalcaemia. On the other hand, it made buckets of money for supplement producers and the like.

                                                                      2. re: demitasse04

                                                                        The whole cow's milk thing for babies has been pretty discouraged. However, there's a more recent study that indicates milk drinking is associated with a noticeably lower risk of Diabetes II. It's an interesting study in that it followed 3,700 participants for 20 years.

                                                                        Here's a link discussing it. It's the Daily Mail, which isn't ideal, but the study's out of Harvard and published in a peer-reviewed journal:


                                                                        1. re: urbavore

                                                                          I did a little googling. Very interesting. Your article mentions in passing that trans-palmitoleic acid is also found in cheese, yogurt, and butter; yet it focuses mainly on drinking milk. Further research online show that this fatty acid is also found in meat. The other question I had after reading the linked article is whether reduced-fat dairy was included in the health benefits - again, online reading shows that reducing the fat in the dairy product negates this particular benefit.

                                                                          Further evidence that we shouldn't mess that much with our food!

                                                                          Thanks, urbavore.

                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                            so what milk do you use? organic, full fat, ultra pasturized, non rgbh?

                                                                            1. re: divadmas

                                                                              Well, I don't like to drink milk anymore, but I keep it for cooking/baking. I sense a trap in your question ;-), but yes, that's what we buy. Could we seek out better? Yes. Should we? Probably. I don't pretend to know what to do about dairy products. I've certainly heard a lot about what NOT to do. A lot of what I read is contradictory; for example, seek out glass, but OOPS, light shouldn't go through the container to the product....etc. Wax-coated cardboard cartons haven't been mentioned here - that's what I usually buy. As I type this, I wonder who will chime in that the wax coating is petroleum-based and therefore bad..........there really is no clear answer.......

                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                This thread's so long that I'm putting this link in a couple of places:


                                                                                You can look up your organic milk supplier and see how they do.

                                                                                1. re: urbavore

                                                                                  Interesting....thanks! I do see some folks I know here.

                                                                                2. re: sandylc

                                                                                  i just want information on what milk is best for you. i like the taste of costco organic but it is ultra pastuerized which i dont like. mostly i get safeway non rbgh whole milk, though i like the idea of and dont mind the taste of reduced fat. i do get cream from a local dairy, pints come in glass with a deposit of over $3, about the same price as contents. ultra pastuerized cream is pretty bad from some sources though costco heavy cream i like.

                                                                                  1. re: divadmas

                                                                                    If you're in California, CloverStornetta has a heavy cream that's not ultrapasteurized.

                                                                                    As for which milk is best . . . I'd avoid the antibiotics and growth hormones . . . but whole milk is 3 percent fat, reduced 2 percent and low-fat 1 percent. I've never been convinced it makes enough of a difference that you have to do one if you're drinking in moderation. But that's just me.

                                                                                    1. re: urbavore

                                                                                      I have read many times that when you remove fat you are increasing the amount of sugar per serving. Fat slows down the uptake of sugar in your body, so not only are you consuming more sugar in lower fat milk, you are taking away the mechanism (fat) that helps your body to deal with that sugar.

                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                        i knew fiber slowed sugar absorption but not that fat did. thanks.
                                                                                        a friend had a cow so i have had raw milk. it seemed kind of thin, possibly because cream was skimmed off to make butter? is milk with cream skimmed off skimmed milk? or is there more fat that is not removed? it did not taste like nonfat.

                                                                                        1. re: divadmas

                                                                                          Boy, we need a dairy expert here. I have wondered about the skimmed cream thing.

                                                                                          1. re: divadmas

                                                                                            No, skimmed is not simply milk with the cream removed from the top--I looked this one up too (I know so much more about dairy than I did 24 hours ago . . .). Skimmed milk is made a couple of ways, but the most common seems to be whirling it around in a centrifuge and then getting the cream.

                                                                                            As far as sugar and fat go, a diabetic friend of mine has to stay away from sugar without fat because the fat keeps her blood sugar levels from spiking as quickly..

                                                                                            Re: raw milk--different types of cows produce different types of milk. My mother and her brother milked the two family cows when she was a child--her brother milked the Holstein (I think) which produced more, but thinner, milk, while she milked the Jersey, which made less, but richer milk. So your raw milk might have reflected the cow, since I assume it's not homogenized, etc.

                                                                                            1. re: urbavore

                                                                                              From what I've heard, the skimmed milk that you can get in grocery stores sometimes adds powdered milk (for more milk taste) and vitamins (because the process removes them). They don't have to tell you that they've added powdered milk, although some stores require labels (one that comes to mind is Trader Joe's).

                                                                                              In addition to the weird powdered milk added (and I have to stress that this is by no means a universal practice), many of the vitamins in milk are fat soluble. This means that skipping the milk also means skipping the nutrients. That information definitely got me to switch to whole!

                                                                                              1. re: caseyjo

                                                                                                safeway skimmed milk says protein enriched or something like that. for skim milk i do like the flavor better. but i have switched back to whole also.

                                                                                              2. re: urbavore

                                                                                                it was from a holstein. i would think the same % milkfat milk would be left after skimming, though. ?
                                                                                                i have never had raw from a jersey. i do remember in 60s getting milk in glass bottles with about an inch (or less) of cream on top. i think that was poured off for coffee. i don't remember shaking it up.

                                                                                                1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                  Well, going on my childhood recollections of my mother's memories--I think there was a difference even after the cream was taken off the top. Which is all pretty anecdotal . . .

                                                                            2. I drink raw milk.
                                                                              Because of the taste. Because it feels good.
                                                                              And I trust that if it tastes good to me that is my body telling me that it is good for me.

                                                                              And I trust my body and how things taste over the temporary opinions of a million experts.
                                                                              How can they know what's good for me if they aren't me?

                                                                              Opinions are cheap. My enjoyment of what I eat and drink is priceless.

                                                                              I wouldn't tell others that they should or should not eat or drink a a type of food because people are wise enough to make their own choices.

                                                                              A lot of things aren't necessary. But they are enjoyable. That's all I need to know.

                                                                              14 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Sparklebright

                                                                                How do you even get raw milk? There's been a crackdown on it in my state--California. The New Yorker had an interesting article on it a few months ago--pointed out that pasteurization was a vast improvement when it was introduced because dairies were incredibly unsanitary at the time. But if you have a clean dairy, contamination's not really an issue.

                                                                                1. re: urbavore

                                                                                  There have been legal battles here about raw milk.

                                                                                  1. re: urbavore

                                                                                    I have looked around here for raw milk to attempt cheese making. It is generally sold as "not for human consumption".

                                                                                    1. re: kengk

                                                                                      Here on the east end of Long Island, we have a farm that sells raw milk. Funny enough, it's a chicken farm. I believe it's treated slightly with solar heat, I really have to get over there and get all the info. But they're advertising so it must be legal.

                                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                                        I am not going to name the farm, but I am pretty sure that it is the one where we buy eggs when we are out by you. Last year we bought a bottle of the raw milk and it was delicious - very rich since I am used to 1% and almond milk, but nice for a one-time treat. It is interesting that they are advertising it as they gave me the impression that it was not legal. And they only had one cow last time I was there so how much milk can one cow produce?

                                                                                        1. re: EM23

                                                                                          so how much milk can one cow produce?

                                                                                          As much as 20,000 pounds per year. At 8 pounds per gallon that would be 6-7 gallons per day.

                                                                                      2. re: urbavore

                                                                                        If you can find a farmer who will sell it to you consider yourself very lucky. Remember that it is the farmer who is taking the bigger risk. He could lose his quota if the wrong people found out.

                                                                                        As I understand it some states do allow the sale of raw milk but that's not anywhere near where I am. I live a few hundred miles from the famous Mr Schmidt who has been embroiled in a huge years long legal battle over raw milk.

                                                                                        To me raw milk is the taste of my childhood. Once it's been boiled I can't be bothered to drink it.

                                                                                        1. re: urbavore

                                                                                          Where in California are you? Here in the Bay Area, we can get raw milk at Rainbow Grocery...

                                                                                          1. re: CarrieWas218

                                                                                            I'm in the Bay Area and, lo and behold, a local market was advertising its raw milk in the newspaper today. The deal seems to be that raw milk is legal in California, but California raw milk producers get in trouble shipping it out of state to end users. They're still working on the raw milk for non-human consumption part.

                                                                                            Meanwhile, while Googling last night, I found this source for locating raw milk producers--it's not comprehensive as a lot of dairies want to avoid official attention, but it's a start:


                                                                                            I think I'm going to try making yogurt from raw milk. Poor Mark Bittman, I think he just upped this foodie's milk consumption . . . I'm now really curious about this raw milk stuff.

                                                                                            1. re: urbavore

                                                                                              Just got back from the farm with our half gallon of raw milk. I stopped there yesterday but she was all out of it, and took my order for today. We drank a bit as soon as we got home, and it is creamy, not on top but all the way through, and I swear I taste a bit of grass in it.....but it had warmed up the slightest bit on the way home so our glasses are in the fridge for now. She said the cows are right there in the back field, this is very unusual for Long Island. Plenty of chickens and goats, but not usually anything bigger (not counting horses of course).

                                                                                              I am looking forward to getting to know raw milk better. I spent all my summers in dairy country, Columbia County NY, when I was young, and our summer home was surrounded by herds of cows (and electric fences, which were great fun to trick my little brother into touching!). The friendly farmer on one side used to let me milk a cow into a pail and then took me inside so I could have some warm milk on a bowl of Cheerios;, an indelible childhood memory and possibly my first "foodie" moment, realizing that all milk was not the same. He also had a cat that sat on top of the stall and caught the milk in her mouth when he squirted it her way. Just for those nostalgic reasons I had to indulge.

                                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                                What a great story coll. Can just see that happy kitty. My mom went to boarding school and she said the girls knew it was spring when the milk tasted garlicy because of the onion grass the cows relished.

                                                                                                1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                                  Glad to know the flavor is not my imagination. Can't believe I finally have the chance to learn what I should have known long ago!

                                                                                                2. re: coll

                                                                                                  I well remember those kitties always present around milking time, happy to jump and dive for a squirt of fresh warm milk.
                                                                                                  Which makes me lol when people say with such AUTHORITY that all cats are lactose intolerant.

                                                                                                  Fresh raw milk. YES!

                                                                                        2. I love a glass of milk for when I'm craving something sweet. I'm pretty wary of the industrial stuff, so I get lightly pasteurized, non-homogenized whole milk from grass-fed cows. It's pricey stuff, so I'm not drinking a huge amount of it. Usually around 6oz at a time, plus whatever I put in my coffee. I like to bring it to work when I'm eating beans, as it's a great combination.

                                                                                          Those who are lactose intolerant should absolutely not drink milk, and Bittman does note that there are cultural differences in ability to break down lactose. However, my German and English ancestors relied on dairy products as a staple of their diet, and my Grandmother would definitely recognize milk as food. I don't see a problem eating traditional foods, especially when it has been responsibly produced.

                                                                                          Although I generally agree with Bittman, he sometimes frustrates me. I, too, am baffled by US food guidelines, especially since they seem to encourage people to eat more servings of pretty much everything. However, sometimes he goes too far with his "vegan until dinner" lifestyle. Yeah, it seems to work for him, and that's great. I'll take a buttery scrambled egg for breakfast, and if I feel like it I might dress my lunch vegetables with bacon grease. That works for me. Different strokes for different folks.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: caseyjo

                                                                                            You took basically all the words out of my mouth (fingers?), except replace "coffee" with "tea"! :)

                                                                                          2. I drink milk because I grew up on a dairy. I come from a long line of dairy folks.

                                                                                            Must be good for me -- the doctors tell me (a very senior citizen) that I have the bones of a 25 year old.

                                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Sharuf

                                                                                              according to john robbins who disowned his baskin robins heritage and some scientific studies although milk has a lot of calcium because of pH it actually pulls calcium out of bones.

                                                                                              1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                Yes that is what I have heard too divadmas. My friend's mom practically lives on yogurt and has for years. The cheap kinds with HFCS is what she buys. She believes that this diet is good for her bones. /face palm. I hope that she at least still enjoys the yogurt because it certainly isn't good for her.

                                                                                                1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                                  It looks like it's actually not that simple. From this article:


                                                                                                  it sounds like the keys are to--get enough calcium before 30 and to get enough Vitamin D (which aids calcium absorption) afterwards. Interestingly, anywhere north of San Francisco or Denver or Indianapolis has insufficient sunlight in the Winter for the body to make adequate Vitamin D.

                                                                                                  Oh same article also has a bit more on the who's lactose intolerant--50 percent of Hispanics, 90 percent of Asians, 70 percent of American blacks and native Americans, while only 15 percent of Northern European types are. (Bittman conveniently left out that little tidbit out in his attempt to paint a sweeping picture of lactose intolerance.
                                                                                                  Sounds like a milk shake on a sunny day is in order . . .


                                                                                                  I mix my yogurt with homemade jam--way better than commercially flavored yogurt and an easy substitute for your friend's mom if she likes flavored yogurt. A couple of teaspoons of good jam is all it takes.

                                                                                                  1. re: urbavore

                                                                                                    yogurt is tasty that way urbavore. I like yogurt so I treat myself to a coupla cartons of TJ's honey yogurt once a month or so. But I think of it as a luxury rather than a necessity. Most of the raw vegans I talk to believe that dairy is considerably worse than meat for our health.
                                                                                                    My friend's mom is not so much with listening to advice. If I had a chance to get her to listen I'd probably talk to her about the dried dog food she feeds her beloved dogs. She is kinda cheap. :( At least she has a choice, unlike her pets.

                                                                                                    1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                                      I really haven't seen anything that indicates that dairy is that bad for all people in moderate amounts--like most foods. Julia Child lived to be 92. The leaching of calcium seems to be a bit of a non-issue *providing* that you're getting enough Vitamin D to absorb calcium.

                                                                                                      I also think diet's not one size fits all. I have friends with nut and soy allergies--a vegan diet would be extremely hard for them. I've also known a number of pregnant/nursing women who went from vegetarianism to omnivore because of mineral loss and anemia.

                                                                                                      A lot of what's *healthy* depends on an individual's situation and his or her heredity. Milk and dairy products are clearly part of a healthy diet for some people--sheep's milk yogurt is part of the traditional diet of Crete (i.e. the Mediterranean diet associated with longevity). At the same time, if you're descended from a nondairy culture--such as most of China--it's not really surprising that milk isn't for you as an adult.

                                                                                                      In other words, the Japanese, who don't do dairy, are long-lived. The Cretans, who do, are also long-lived.

                                                                                                      As for raw vegans--that's a personal choice, but humans aren't designed to be herbivores. We're very much a top-of-the-food-chain species that's highly adaptive when it comes to diet. (Which is why we're all over the place and some indigenous groups eat little animal protein and others, like the Inuit, have diets heavy in it. )

                                                                                                      Which is my way of saying that I'd never consider a raw vegan as a solid source for what I should or should not eat. It's as unnatural a diet as I can think of--heavily dependent on global supply chains and refrigeration.

                                                                                                    2. re: urbavore

                                                                                                      my genetic background is japanese, i can't think of any asian friends that are lactose intolerant. and what about mongols and in himalayas. doesnt their diet contain a lot of dairy? though it is processed. not so sure of that 90% number.
                                                                                                      i just had bowl of tilamok udderly chocholate. my fav though the vanilla bean goes better with summer fruits.

                                                                                                      1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                        I was sort of assuming that the Mongols and Tibetans were providing the 10 percent of East Asians who weren't lactose intolerant . . . though, it's not clear to me what constitutes "Asian" in this context--is it East Asian or East Asian and South Asian? Ethnically different and, of course, India *does* have a strong dairy tradition, though I think it's mostly cultured milk products . . . though I think it's plain old milk in chai?

                                                                                                        My understanding from an MD friend is that some of us (like me) are lactose malabsorbers, we're not digesting the lactose well, but we don't the internal flora that causes us to have the sort of bad reaction to milk that makes us lactose intolerant. Same friend told me that the tolerance/intolerance can fluctuate--i.e. a lot of women while pregnant are better able to tolerate milk.

                                                                                              2. I adore cheese. I like ice cream and yogurt, although I don't crave it. I never drink milk. I buy it in pints because I cook with it occasionally and I end up throwing out most of it when I buy quarts.

                                                                                                But cheese is amazing.

                                                                                                1. Given the quite extensive concerns about heart attack risks associated with calcium pills and as someone with low bone density, I consider the milk and dairy a crucial part of my diet, as it gives me natural calcium which is not thought to be dangerous like calcium supplements. Plus, a good slosh of milk in any recipe with canned tomatoes really takes the edge off any bitter, acidic or metallic tang that the tomatoes have! Couldn't live without it.

                                                                                                  1. I think the real problem is the recommendation by the USDA that we consume 3 cups per person....who among us, even those that are lactose tolerant, can tolerate 3 cups of milk per day?? I drink one cup or less in my coffee, which I take as a homemade latte. I some other dairy in the form of a little butter, cheese and plain yoghurt. In fact I love all kinds of dairy. But it's pretty clear that it's not at all necessary for good health. Perhaps the yoghurt is good for those that can tolerate it, but there are a number of other fermented foods that can substitute- it's certainly not that dairy is necessary nutritionally for adults.
                                                                                                    What's more- and this really bugs me- is that PLAIN cow's milk is recommended for children 1 year on. What??? And people give plain cow's milk as a substitute for breast milk or formula, in many cases multiple bottles or cups per day at that age. I really tried to limit the amount of cow's milk my daughter had at that age, if it were permissible in the govt regulated daycare, I would've asked for her to have toddler's formula while there. (We still breastfed at home).
                                                                                                    However the state mandates whole milk, then at 2, they are supposed to switch to lowfat. So weird. In Europe they give iron-enriched milk to children, which at least would avoid the problem of anemia we experience here with so many bottles of cow's milk. Now at 4 she claims not to want milk when she's in preschool (they provide it), and has one cup in the morning with breakfast.
                                                                                                    It's all about the benjamins :)

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: fara

                                                                                                      My 80-year-old mother drinks MORE than that every day. I am sure she has digestive problems that are caused by it, but she is stubborn and is convinced that milk is the key to health.

                                                                                                    2. So silly... I drink it because I like it. A lot of things are not necessary in our diets -- Brussels sprouts and beets come to mind.

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: libstewart

                                                                                                        I've learned to like both Brussels sprouts and beets over the years--but the Brussels need to be fresh on the stalk and balanced by something like chestnuts--or dosed to an unhealthy point with oil and oven fried. I like beets roasted and then playing their part in a salad. Some vegetables just can't take culinary abuse.

                                                                                                        1. re: libstewart

                                                                                                          I like milk too libstewart. What worries me is the people who include dairy in their diets for health reasons and don't even enjoy it. That to me is silly. Brussel sprouts and beets yum!

                                                                                                          1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                                            lol As someone who has swilled some pretty foul
                                                                                                            stuff in the name of health, all I can say is--they'll get over it.
                                                                                                            Life is just too short to not eat what you enjoy or eat what you don't enjoy.

                                                                                                        2. As a child, I loved milk. Of course, we had the dairy in town, and milk delivered in glass bottles to our door every week. Always loved the stuff. I noticed as I grew older and started drinking the store-bought milk, it bothered my stomach some. Now I drink unsweetened almond milk because certain foods, in my opinion, just scream for a glass as an accompaniment. I've switched to organic cheese because I noticed the non-organic began to bother my stomach. I'll splurge for a good parrano, humboldt fog, or stilton now and then, however. I also eat Greek yogurt and frozen yogurt - no ice cream for me anymore - and I have no stomach issues.

                                                                                                          Personally, I like Mark Bittman, but I agree that some of his facts needed more research. We're all different. Know your body and what works for you.

                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: phee

                                                                                                            Love Almond Milk with my Honey Bunches of Oats.

                                                                                                            1. re: phee

                                                                                                              with delivery to the porch was there a problem with spoilage?

                                                                                                              1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                                We all had insulated milk boxes that were kept on the porch.

                                                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                  I still have one, found it at a local thrift shop. But I keep my gardening tools in it......

                                                                                                                2. re: divadmas

                                                                                                                  No spoilage that I know of. Then again, this was back when you could keep your back door open and your neighbor would take it in for you if you were out of town.

                                                                                                                  Geez, I'm old. ;)

                                                                                                              2. I loved milk. I would drink a half-gallon of nonfat every two or three days sometimes. Usually with meals, but often a slug or three right out of the carton when I wanted something cold.

                                                                                                                Suffered kidney failure three years ago. Now have to limit phosphorus (and potassium). Don't even keep milk in the 'fridge anymore. Save my dairy for the slice of cheese on a sandwich or burger or some ice cream.

                                                                                                                I do miss it. But it wasn't as difficult as I thought. And I drank a LOT of milk. Anyone want some unused three-year-old boxes of cereal?

                                                                                                                1. The problem with these types of debates, of course, is that we're all colored by our personal experiences and beliefs. I have a good friend who has insisted for years that EVERYONE is at least a little lactose intolerant. I forget where her facts came from, but I'm sure she has her sources - she's officious, but well-read. After years and years of listening to her diatribes, I finally had to pipe up - I've never had a problem with dairy in my life. She was dismissive; of course I did, I just didn't attribute it to dairy. Nope. Never have. I could drink GALLONS of milk with no stomach pains or digestive issues except that I'd be super full and have overdosed on protein, so sure, I'd have digestive issues, but nothing some prune juice and brown rice wouldn't cure, same as if I'd eaten 5 steaks... She was incredulous, even flabbergasted, insisted on her sources...which all came from people doing studies, which means they came from graduate students and PhDs, who, for one reason or another, had a burning interest in spending years of their lives studying this, which means they have a personal connection to it somehow that's going to influence their hypothesis, like it or not. It's human nature.

                                                                                                                  As a certified nutritionist (or was at one time), what made me leave the field was the scientists' insistence that nutrients can be broken up into the pieces of the whole. My personal experiences with clients countered that assumption over and over again - someone could tolerate milk but not cheese, or vice versa; two clients of the exact same stature and similar exercise habits could consume the exact same recommended menu for a month, one would lose 10 lbs and the other would gain 5...One would feel full after a meal, one would become anemic...Is it lactose intolerance, casein intolerance, a reaction to the growth hormones in the milk, a reaction to the feed, the combo of pasteurization with growth hormone, but only in corn-fed cows? I'm constantly reminded of the Michael Keaton Batman movie and the Joker's chemical compounds...food, processed or natural, exists in a vast, intricate web that's going to affect every person differently. It's frankly somewhat insulting to insist that one knows exactly what's good for someone else's body, or that someone has the exact answer. Poppycock, especially if you're talking something with as long an evolutionary history as milk.

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: thursday

                                                                                                                    I'm in agreement with you. Just because something hasn't been discovered by studies involving hundreds of subjects doesn't mean it hasn't happened to an individual. My doctor, when I used to actually go to one, used to counter everything I said with, "that's anecdotal". Well, Dr. X, if "anecdotal" means it actually happened to someone in real life, I guess you're right.

                                                                                                                    People are individuals who have a lifetime of choices and eating habits which have an effect upon their reactions to food, as well as their health - something that is impossible to account for or replicate scientifically.

                                                                                                                    1. re: thursday

                                                                                                                      Well said. I'm no nutritionist, I'm just old enough to see foods go in and out of style as bad or good and take a lot of it with a grain of salt. I once had a friend who told me celery caused cancer . . . I remember when pasta was considered a great food and now I have three younger relatives who avoid wheat--one has an honest-to-God celiac diagnosis, the second thinks she might and the third has decided to follow the "paleolithic diet"--never mind there is no such real animal as there was not a single paleolithic diet. But whatever.

                                                                                                                    2. I'm with ipse.
                                                                                                                      I hate the taste of milk. Love ice cream, milkshakes, and whipped cream, but detest plain milk. So the only time it will be found in my refrigerator is if I need it for some dish that requires it.

                                                                                                                      My father used to buy milk, but we would only use it for putting on cereal, so it would usually go bad before we got through a carton.

                                                                                                                      I think that for many people it also tends to have an unpleasant effect on the breath.

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: racer x

                                                                                                                        I agree with everything you say!

                                                                                                                        1. re: racer x

                                                                                                                          I think that for many people it also tends to have an unpleasant effect on the breath.

                                                                                                                          Kissing someone who just had a big gulp of milk is one of the gnarliest things in life (or food) for me.

                                                                                                                        2. I also detest the taste of milk on its own. Do not care for ice cream, cream, whipped cream. But love yogurt and cheeses.
                                                                                                                          Having read that raw milk has a much different flavor and is different in other ways (people who are sensitive to cow's milk are said to be fine drinking raw milk) I am curious to try it to see if this is true.

                                                                                                                          1. I drink milk because I like it and I also enjoy yogurt and cheese and custards.

                                                                                                                            Mr. Bittman is certainly entitled to his opinion, but that is all that article should be considered. It seems a bit silly that now he cannot drink milk, that no one else should enjoy it.

                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: NE_Elaine

                                                                                                                              I am experiencing a little cognitive dissonance here.

                                                                                                                              Is Mark Bittman also the guy who has published recipes for ice cream?
                                                                                                                              Was just reading elsewhere in CH where people were raving about his egg free ice cream recipes.
                                                                                                                              Sorry I'm on my iPod and can't post a link.

                                                                                                                              Ii I'm out to lunch on this one, feel free to tell me.
                                                                                                                              For now I'll continue to snicker into my home made ice cap, thick with milk and ice cream.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Sparklebright

                                                                                                                                I don't think you were replying to me, but I was intrigued enough to do a quick search and you are correct about the no-egg ice cream recipes. Here are a couple links from chow.


                                                                                                                            2. For the same reason I drink bourbon: I like the taste.