Did you ever wake up one day to find that a belief you’ve held strongly over decades was a complete and total lie? That’s exactly what happened to me. I’ll never forget the day I walked into herb school for nutrition class and seeing my somewhat eccentric teacher sporting a white stripe over his top lip. Without a second thought I knew exactly what the subject of class was going to be about. Who doesn’t recognize the white stripe over the top of the lip as the well-known “got milk?” logo. Those were the first words to leap from his lips as he peered suspiciously through slanted eyes at my classmates. “Well, do you?” We all looked at each other wondering what the right answer would be at this point. This seemed like a setup, we had no idea what was coming.

He went on to ask the class “why do you drink milk? None of you are babies and humans are the only species to drink milk after the age of weaning.” Our answers ranged from “it builds strong bones and teeth” to “it does a body good”. Every single comment parroted the slogans from the milk commercials word for word. You would have thought we’d been trained to say these things. This, my friends is what a multi-million dollar advertising budget can get you. A loyal following that spreads your voice far and wide. The U.S. dairy industry reports an annual revenue of 60 billion dollars. Their marketing budget for the year 2007 for fluid milk alone was $175 million dollars. That’s not counting milk derivatives like butter, cheese and the many others that fill 75% of our grocery store shelves in one form or another. By products of milk aren’t simply thrown out, they’re added to other foods.

How did the dairy industry become a corporate giant?

It helps to understand some history behind it all. In the late 1800’s people began to move from family farms to cities and towns making it necessary to produce dairy products on a large scale. In WWI the US government sent powdered milk and milk products overseas to counter malnutrition in soldiers. In response to this, American farmers gave up raising other livestock to meet this demand. When the war ended the need for so much milk dried up so to speak and the dairy industry was left with a lot of milk and little demand for it. At this point, with so much time, effort and money being invested in milk production, it was not feasible to shift away from it. A better idea was to convince people they needed it and that’s how the whole campaign got started. At this point, Children were even getting food education classes in public school that encouraged them to drink 4 glasses per day as a daily allowance. In 1946, legislation was introduced called the “School lunch program” that required each meal to have a glass of whole milk. Even with this legislation there was still a problem with huge milk surpluses in the 1940’s & 50’s that were purchased by the federal government. Even though it was being sent to schools, the military and other countries there were still huge surpluses being warehoused in vast underground storage. According to the NY Times, by the 1980’s the government was still spending tons of money buying up extra cheese, butter and dried milk to the tune of 40 – 50 million dollars a year to transport dairy products from processing plants to storage facilities; and another 40-50 million to store it.

Source https://www.minds.com/blog/view/630144474600710146

In an effort to cut spending Ronald Reagan put an end to this program leaving the dairy industry crying in their Wheaties to put it mildly. In response, the dairy industry convinced congress to create a program called the “Dairy Checkoff” that mandated dairy farmers to pay a fee of .15 cents on every hundred pounds produced. That’s a LOT of money when you’re talking about the entire U.S production. In turn, that fee went into advertising campaigns that convinced people to buy more milk. That food pyramid we all recognize as recommended daily allowances was actually created by the department of health and human services. This gets passed on to the USDA who then modifies it and tells us what to eat. Per the documentary Got The Facts on Milk?, The USDA are mandated by law to promote dairy & meat production and the policy of the U.S. Congress is to strengthen the dairy industries position in the market place.

Not to leave out governmental food assistance programs like the WIC program that provides large amounts of milk, eggs and cheese to underprivileged mothers and their children. There are food assistance programs in prisons and schools that require they be provided with 8 ounces of milk at each meal. To further the marketing campaign, today you will see large posters in school cafeterias encouraging our children to drink more milk.

Milk Myths

Some of the untruths perpetuated by the industry and not based on science are as follows:

Milk makes you strong and tall, builds muscles, builds healthy bones, helps you lose weight, prevents heart disease, is good for the skin and complexion, stops cramps, makes strong teeth, a good source of calcium and vitamin D. By the way, where do they get that vitamin D from? Turns out it’s derived from the lanolin in lamb’s wool and added in.

Now for the bad, the very bad and the ugly truth of it all.

Animal protein

To start with, the main protein in milk is casein. Per Dr. Neal Barnard, M.D. and nutrition researcher, a study performed on over 70,000 women over a period of 18 years showed that milk had zero protection against hip fracture. Animal protein causes the blood to become acidic. In turn, it pulls calcium from the bones as a buffer to neutralize the blood. It then gets excreted in urine, that is, if it doesn’t turn into a kidney stone first. Sodium, caffeine and animal proteins all have this trait. Even though milk has approximately 300 mg of calcium per cup, we actually assimilate very little of it. Especially if it’s pasteurized. Pasteurization destroys almost all of the nutritive value of cow’s milk.

This blows the myth that milk is a good source of calcium right out of the water. Casein protein can cause negative calcium balances in the body which leads directly to osteoporosis.

Fact: Vegetables, including plants that are considered weeds, have more amounts of calcium with less calories than milk.

Fact: Small amounts of casein can produce copious amounts of mucous or phlegm and should be avoided in all cases of respiratory illness.


In his book “The China Study”, Dr. T. Colin Campbell wrote about a very vivid correlation between animal protein consumption and cancer development showing that casein protein promoted cancer in every stage of its development. In a study of over 27 years Dr. Campbell states he could literally turn on & turn off cancer production simply by adding or deleting animal protein. It is his belief that milk is the most relevant cancer causing food we consume and we eat 5 times the amount of animal products we did 50 years ago.

Fact: Countries with little to no dairy consumption did not make it to the top 20 cancer list.

Heart disease and obesity

The U.S consumes approximately 30 pounds of cheese per person per year and we are the World leaders in obesity. Cheese and butter are both rich sources of cholesterol & saturated fat. In fact, when comparing them to other foods, they are the biggest contributor. 70-80% of cheese is saturated fat. In 2007, heart disease killed 652,486 people in the United States. Heart disease was unheard of in the early 1800’s.

Lactose intolerance

Lactose is milk sugar and most people cannot digest it. In fact 75% of the people in the World cannot. People who can tolerate lactose are considered genetic mutations. Lactose intolerance is normal as we stop making the digestive enzyme to digest it after the age of 2. I personally believe that the gas and bloating that can accompany lactose intolerance is one reason school children get squirmy and can’t sit still in school. Many children start their day with milk and remember the school lunch program mandates each child to drink it. When lactose isn’t digested properly, it results in sugar in the bowel which results in diarrhea.

Food allergen

Milk is one of the most common food allergens and can lead to auto immune disease such as Chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Symptoms include:

Constant runny nose, growth retardation, wheezing, asthma, skin rashes such as eczema and hives, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea, iron deficient anemia, itchy swollen eyes.

PubMed Central-Clinical practice-EUR J Pediatr 2009 August 168 (8): 891-896

Fact: Milk can cause iron deficiency in children from occult gastrointestinal bleeding which can lead to learning deficiency.


In an attempt to get cows to produce more milk, they are given a steroid called RBGH, or recombinant bovine growth hormone. The name growth hormone indicates just that, growth. Milk is designed to make babies grow and most of us want to stop that at some point in our lives.

Think about cancer for a minute. Most tumors are a result of the growth of abnormal cells. RBGH is banned in Canada, and Europe due to the fact that it creates excess levels of insulin growth factor which leads to human cancer development. Quite different from the United States where the USDA has banned the labeling of milk as RBGH free.

Because of this push for cows to produce more milk, many dairy cows present with mastitis which is infection of the udders. This is where it really gets gross, Per USDA guidelines, one glass of milk can contain 180 million dead WBC (pus cells) and be considered ok for human consumption. Mastitis is then treated with antibiotics. The steroids, pus cells and antibiotics all end up in the milk with only the antibiotics at rates not approved by the USDA but not challenged by any governmental agency.

Cows are large animals and they fart

Dairy cows are the biggest source of environmental pollution. I always thought this was a myth but it turns out to be true. They produce copious amounts of methane gas due to the large amount of food they consume to continuously pump out milk. The amount of methane gas produced by dairy cows outnumbers the amount of carbon from all the cars, planes & trains put together. 70% of the Amazon has been deforested not just for the wood, but for pasture land to raise cows.

Got Milk?

As an herbalist I was trained that if I could tell you to stop doing something as opposed to giving you an herb to allow you to continue with behavior that could likely be damaging to your health, I should. I’ve had people stomp their feet at me over such truths but I wouldn’t do it any other way. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above or any of the following symptoms, do yourself a favor and just eliminate all dairy products from your diet for a week and see if the symptoms fall away.

Acne, excess mucous, re-occurring ear infections, heartburn, migraines, arthritis, osteoporosis, asthma, allergies, autoimmune disorders.

Cases to avoid dairy in all forms at all times would include cancer of any type.

If you want to eliminate dairy completely you’ll need to become an avid label reader and avoid eating out at restaurants as butter is the main fat they use for cooking. In order to decode labels you’ll need a little help. For a list of dairy ingredients see: http://www.godairyfree.org/dairy-free-grocery-shopping-guide/dairy-ingredient-list-2

Yes milk does contain fat, carbs, protein and calcium. All things we need to be healthy. We just don’t need milk to get them. For more information on this subject, see the documentary “Got the facts on milk?”

Homemade oat milk

1 cup of rolled oats to 3 cups water.

Add ingredients and mix in blender until smooth.

Pour through strainer and enjoy.

The amount of water used can be adjusted to your preference,

1 to 3 gives a nice creamy texture and this is what I prefer.

Not only is this a nice alternative to milk, oats are excellent for soothing the nerves.

Add some blueberries and you’ve got a nice blood sugar balancer to start your day.

Mari Marques is a Certified Herbalist and owner of The Thymekeeper. For questions or more information contact: Mari at mugsyspad@aol.com or 719-439-7303 or 748-3388. Mari is available for private consultation.

Spice up your holidays! Let’s get together and make some mulling spice bags for your holiday cider or other holiday recipes. We’ll talk about some different uses and medicinal benefits of the age old tradition of using spice bags. The Thymekeeper will be available on Sunday November 13th from 1:00-3:00 to help put yours together. These spice bags make awesome inexpensive holiday gifts in addition to making the whole house smell seasonally delicious. Suggested donation $10.00 per person. Spices will be available for purchase.

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