Guest Column: Got milk? Whole or low-fat?

RBC | I drink whole milk and so does my family. The pendulum is swinging away from the low and no-fat milk recommendations back to whole milk for health. I could fill your in-box with recent articles, research and evidence to this point. Whole milk is a part of our human history. Whole milk was key to helping children thrive during the depression. Protein, fat, fluid and satiation comes from milk. In case you are too young to have experience milking cows, here is an excerpt from a registered dietitian and ranch wife’s memoirs that explain it well.
Milk cows were essential for the food supply and nutrition of rural families in early Northwest Colorado. Good milk-producing Holsteins or the hardy red Shorthorns were commonplace on farms and ranches. Most milk cows were ‘creatures of habit’ as they dutifully came to the milking barn at regular times, morning and evening. They learned their ‘order’ in the barn and who claimed the first stanchion and who the next.
A 2 ½ gallon galvanized pail was commonly used and milk then emptied into a larger container after each cow was milked. Milkers sat on their choice of stools. A T-shaped stool allowed for quick movement away from the cow if she started to kick. Kicking cows could be ‘hobbled’ to protect the milker and the pail of milk, a cow’s dirty, swishing tail could be trapped against the cow’s leg with the milker’s knee.
The warm milk was carried to the house for straining and sometimes ‘separating’. A cream separator was important equipment in rural homes. Hand turning the handle of the separator was good exercise. Centrifugal force spun the cream out a spout separate from the skimmed milk spout. Skim milk was then used to make cottage cheese. Larger amounts were fed to the family’s pigs and chickens. Cream was used in sauces or made into butter for the family. Children drank whole, fresh, un-pasteurized, non-homogenized milk with every meal.
Many people are developing an interest in whole milk again. “Cow shares” are becoming more and more common. A cow share is when a group of families own a cow together and share the milk among them. While I advocate for people developing an understanding of where their food comes from, raising it yourself when you can and consuming the least processed varieties—be careful. Q fever is one of many bad things people can get from not cleaning the cows udder or managing the milk properly. If you are thinking of having your own milk cow, or sharing one, stop by the extension office or do some “google” research to insure safety.
Then enjoy whole milk guilt-free knowing that science is beginning to support you, too!