Holy Cow! The Discontents of Milk

by R. W. Bussewitz

My emergence into the world was precipitous. My dad – whose only midwife experience was with cows – got pressed into action and nature performed her miracle. I arrived. Then the doctor arrived. The year was 1942 and prevailing medical authority ruled against breast-feeding. Mom was caught by surprise, and argued vehemently, but her (and my) natural instincts were discounted. It was to be cow’s milk from the start, out of the glass bottle – it was before the age of plastic.

That was 63 years ago, and though breast feeding is back in fashion, I am only now beginning to learn of the “sleight of hand” process in which milk has been “disappeared” right from under our mouths – replaced by what we know today- a product stripped of its essential nutritional and healing properties, produced in bulk and for monetary profit for some – but not for the farmer and without care for the consumer or the cow that gave it in the first place. No wonder I didn’t want to know the story of milk! It’s painful to comprehend – in its scope and magnitude – the ways in which human unkindness and avarice have conspired to produce today’s milk, packaged to seem so ‘ultra’ superior to milk as designed by nature. In truth – it’s become the opposite. The enzymes – which give real milk (as well as all cells in the body) its life force have been destroyed; vitamins are destroyed as well, and the altered composition further impedes digestion. 1

The Untold Story of Milk, by Ron Schmid gives a picture that is not totally bleak – there is still “real milk” being produced by cows which are properly cared for today by folks who carry on nobly in spite of all obstacles. Sadly, the biggest of these obstacles is surely our own set of misbeliefs and our unquestioning attitude regarding “dairy” and what falls under this heading, but our “attitude” did not arise in a vacuum. Far from it!

I owe it to my friend, who turned me on to Ron’s book, that I faced “the bad news” – but the good news, my rediscovery of “real” milk, and its benefits is my true reward. I want to share with you this same possibility if you are up to the challenge. In fact, the “untold” story goes well beyond a discussion of milk per se, calling into question the role of cholesterol, animal fats, and health. It may make you uncomfortable in the belief that switching to soymilk is the answer.

And even if you have outgrown your need for milk, it’s my contention that we retain the right not to be systematically and shamefully lied to as we have been over the years, bamboozled – in regard to our present deterioration of health, as a society and as a nation. The old enemy “Communism”, or today’s “terrorism” seems laughable beside the insidious and not accidental erosion of our traditional values and integrity which once kept us whole and healthy. I’m not merely lamenting the passing of “the good old days.” The author cites the vastly important, yet overlooked work of such pioneers in the field of nutrition as Weston Price, and the numerous and fascinating studies done with indigenous people on many parts of the planet. It was an eye-opener for me. But you must see for yourself.

Ironically, I was taught to denigrate and ridicule how in India the cow is held as “sacred”, allowed to roam freely on the street and into train stations, often having to forage food from the gutter or from Indian dumpsters, not noted for their abundance. And there’s the practice of├Łusing cow dung for fuel, or as a “sponge” for cleaning up – so ‘shocking’ to our refined sensibilities. I’ve had to rethink this situation as well, from what I’ve learned. Perhaps we ought to reopen the Boston Common for cattle grazing, as it was first intended, for surely this would be a minor nuisance in light of the enormous price we now pay with our lives for what we get in return. We have been milked by the dairy and food industry, and the cows have been made to suffer in ways not yet heard of in India. Were I to be reborn a cow in this country surely I would rue the fact that I chose the factory farm here and not the “greener pastures” in the land of Krishna. The life of the factory cow in the US, in which profits are sacred, is not a joke and also not worthy of calling a “life.”

My grandfather, the Wisconsin dairy farmer, toiled for 50 years without vacation from the daily chores of farming and animal care. To tell the truth, I think he cared too much about his animals to leave them for any length of time. He prospered, but it was never “about the money.” Becoming rich was not his intention. You may know people like that, alive, even today. These are the heroes one could feel proud of – not the Bill Gateses of the world or corporate CEO’s who command so much attention, envy, and notoriety.

I might suggest fomenting a quiet revolution together, while we still can, for our own sake, as well as for the unborn, and for the sake of the planet. I don’t mean to scare you; things take time, however urgent, and you may prefer a gentler approach. But I seek your support, and would be keenly interested to know if you found a good source of raw cow’s milk, and have any stories to go along with it. I’ve begun revamping my own dietary intake and it doesn’t feel like a fad. Flora (my mom) is enthralled with the whole thing. We’re not going back to the farm and we don’t seek a return to the day of the outhouse but we would like to reclaim some portion of our farm heritage as it applies to milk consumption. We need our science to support us and inform us, according to the laws of nature and not according to a narrow sense of profits and “bottom line” technology. Today’s cow, if she moos at all, moos a discontented moo, contrary to her basic nature and to the schmooze of Madison Avenue and the dairy industry report. All nature needs the support of humane science in rediscovering what makes us whole.


1 “We see that pasteurized milk is largely devoid of enzyme activity; nearly all of the enzymes have been killed. The dairy industry claims that the only nutrient significantly altered by pasteurization is vitamin C. Pasteurization destroys anywhere from 10 to 50 % of the vitamin C content of milk and lesser amounts of other vitamins including B6and B12… Raw milk advocates point out that the amount of vitamin C destroyed in milk exceeds that of the entire US citrus crop.” Ron Schmid, Untold Story of Milk, p.103. Put simply, pasteurization removes the ‘pasture’ while homogenizing gives ‘uniformity’ and the result is a synthetic product capable of long transport and long ‘shelf life’.