Standard Pages (they don't change often)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Thinking about milk

Molly Dunn at the Houston Press Eating Our Words blog starts out her piece with

"Let's face it -- kids are not consuming enough milk today"

and goes on to decry the predominance of artificially sweetened milk in markets, exhorting us (presumably, parents) to teach kids that unsweetened milk is "natural" and healthy.

Let's take a step back, and look at some facts.

1. Milk is not an essential food product. Most mammals (in fact, most humans - but that should be obvious from mammals, right?) stop consuming milk post weaning, and developmentally shut down milk digestion. Lactase persistence is the uncommon condition that permits milk consumption, and is restricted to just a few pockets of humanity. The fact that Ms. Dunn thinks that children aren't consuming enough milk tells me that her perspective comes from this idea that other "kinds" of children don't count. Most children post nursing would have a hard time digesting milk.

2. Milk contains plenty of sugar already. In fact, the going rate is about 5% lactose in cow's milk - that's about 4 teaspoons in a 12 ounce serving...wait, isn't that like soda? It's just that you cannot perceive the sweetness of the lactose in the same way as sucrose, but guess what, sucrose and lactose are chemically very similar, and have notably similar digestion pathways (with the exception of the lactase step).

But what really bugs me is Ms. Dunn's obstinate parroting of pseudoscience and subtle propaganda. For example, she writes

"Adding aspartame to milk doesn't make it milk anymore"

That is an unjust characterization of the issue - it doesn't fit the current FDA technical definition. Her choice of words are meant to emotionally manipulate the reader. She writes the "research has shown" that artificial sweeteners create cravings for high calorie foods. What research specifically? She also denigrates "chemicals" several times, betraying her inherent chemophobia.

So, this was an article about teaching kids to choose "real food" (whatever that means). I am responding with this: teach our kids to think critically before they are indoctrinated.


  1. The naturalistic fallacy is the most nutritious fallacy because it has "natural" right in the name!

  2. "Most mammals (in fact, most humans - but that should be obvious from mammals, right?)"

    Why should it? Most mammals are not humans, probably. Even if most mammals was taken as referring to most individuals rather than most species it would be possible for something to be true of most mammals but not most or even any humans.