Yesterday, I was asked what I thought about milk. Not raw milk, I’ve no experience with that at all. I’m talking about the pasteurized stuff that comes in the gallon jugs at the grocery store, that comes in chocolate or strawberry flavors, that is served in our schools, that is heavily advertised with pretty people wearing milk mustaches have never seen a product so heavily advertised as being the best thing for our bodies. It is believable, really, until you see the ads are sponsored by the dairy council?
My Milk Story starts with no politics, no indignant feelings towards dairy lobbyists, nothing like that. I simply could not drink it.
I don’t recall if I was lactose intolerant when I was born, or why my mother didn’t give me milk when I was little. Up until the age of 13, when it came to milk I drank soy baby formula in cans. Prosobe, I think it was called, I don’t even know if it’s around anymore, but that’s what I drank, ate my cereal with. I remember the smell of it vividly, and I also remember how to make it: one can, along with three cans of water, made a pitcher. We’re not talking fancy vanilla flavored soy or anything like that, this was the 70’s and soy was NOT flavored back then, and it didn’t come in half gallons. I drank that stuff until I was 13 years old, when I decided it was time to be a grown up and drink real milk for a change. I latched onto the cow and didn’t let go for five years. I drank milk like it was going out of style. I could never get enough of it.
I should stop here and let everyone know that other than a case of the chicken pox, I don’t recall any other childhood illnesses while I was drinking baby soy formula. No ear infections, croup, none of that standard stuff kids always get.
Then I spent five years drinking cow’s milk. Those five years were the sickest years of my life. I was always coming down with throat infections. Not strep, it was never strep, just some sort of infection the emergency room doctors couldn’t figure out, no matter how many throat cultures they did. I would get antibiotics and they would send me on my way. Also, during that time period I got the one and only ear infection I would ever have in my life. It was the most painful experience I have ever had. Having all four wisdom teeth dug (literally) out of my head at the same time was no match for this ear infection. The pain was horrific. I was stuck on horrid amounts of antibiotics for that as well. I will never forget that first night on antibiotics, I didn’t want to miss a dose so I stayed up all night, talking on the phone with my friend Patrick who was sweet to stay up with me. We were on the phone until five in the morning. I never forgot that.
Because of that ear infection, I developed sensitivity to penicillin, and I can no longer take it. Period. As well, that ear infection left me hard of hearing in both ears for two months afterwards. Hard to listen to your Sony Walkman when your ears are inflamed. Shortly after that episode, my mother began seeing a health guru, who got her to change her diet, got her to take out her aggression towards her mother by beating pillows, and got her drinking rice milk and eating all sorts of veggies. Mom was meditating for an hour every night and doing yoga. She seemed so healthy so I decided I would somewhat follow her route. The first thing I gave up was milk because I found out how awful it was for humans, how it caused ear infections and the like. An ear infection was something I was determined never to experience again.
Therefore, I gave up milk, and then the coughing started. I coughed constantly for just over a month. I went to the doctor and I was told my body was getting rid of all of the casein that had built up in my lungs; it was very common for people who quit the dairy to go through a detox process. The garbage coming out of my chest was thick and just nasty, and that was only after drinking milk for five years. Five years! I know people who have consumed milk for years, even decades, and I had all those problems after only five year
I was sold. I wasn’t going to touch milk again. It was easy, no milk and no ice cream, but cheese was tough. I had tried my mom’s cheese alternatives, almond cheese and soy cheese and just no. I went back to my soy milk and figured that was a major step. My mother, who never got the taste for soy, drank rice milk. I admit, soy is an acquired taste. I can’t deny that. Texture as well. Major breakthroughs have been made when it comes to soy milk, but I never did buy the ads that said it tasted just like milk. It doesn’t. Not at all, and the texture is wrong.
So there I was, on my non-dairy kick. By this time, I was in community college, and I was given an assignment to write a paper on something (I really don’t remember what) so I chose to write about how cow’s milk can negatively affect our health. We had to read our papers aloud to the rest of the class as part of the assignment. One of my fellow students actually started crying because I would dare suggest not giving children milk, which is what they needed to grow into strong, healthy adults. She would not listen to a word I said, and thought I was Satan incarnate for even thinking milk was not healthy. I told her I was allergic to it, she said that there must be something wrong with me (it’s called Lactose Intolerance, but I might as well have spoken Klingon to her). I tried to reason with her by giving her facts, but she didn’t want to hear anything bad about milk. As I recall, she left the class in tears. She didn’t speak to me for the rest of the semester.
All that over milk. Wow.
The events I mentioned above occurred about 20 years ago. I never had one of those odd throat infections nor have I had an ear infection since I stopped drinking pasteurized cow’s milk. I know of the political and health reasons to not drink it, but for me, I don’t have to hop on a single bandwagon. Simply, milk does not do my body good.