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The Future of Milk

By David Goodman, "The Future of Milk," July/August 2010

As small dairy farms are vanishing, what is happening to our milk?


READER'S COMMENT:
"Skip the milk produced by the big commercial dairy farms. Better yet, go vegan or vegetarian and support dairy and cattle farmers that switch to growing vegetables and fruit which are more healthy and ecological alternatives. Too much of...

Getting sodas out of schools makes good health sense, but why the fuss over milk? I called Professor Connie Weaver, head of the department of food and nutrition at Purdue University. She runs Camp Calcium, a summer camp for adolescents that studies their calcium requirements. “Calcium is the largest constituent of bone. You can’t make calcium in your body; you have to get it from your diet,” she explains. Milk is one of the most concentrated and easily absorbed sources of calcium. The federal government recommends that everyone over the age of 9 consume the equivalent of 3 cups per day of low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt or low-fat cheese. “It’s very difficult to get enough calcium if you exclude milk from your diet.” Weaver notes that “by the end of adolescence, you are primarily done building bone. You can’t build any more bone, you can only maintain.” As you age, the cells that rebuild bone mass become less active while those that dismantle bone keep working, making it even more important for adults to also get bone-strengthening calcium in their diet.

Shortly after my conversation with Weaver, I pick up my 18-year-old daughter from school. On the way, I stop to grab a gallon of milk. When my daughter opens the car door, she looks quizzically at the jug on the front seat. “What’s that doing here?” she queries.

“It’s your new best friend,” I say. “We’ve got some catching up to do, and we don’t have much time.”



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