Growing up, I refused to drink milk. Every adult in my life encouraged me to do so–I “needed” milk for strong bones and a healthy lifestyle. When I broke my toe, my doctor even told me I needed to consume more dairy.
A video by Vox tells us that, while small portions of dairy can be a part of a balanced diet. But “the idea that they’re essential? That’s just marketing.”
In other words, milk became “healthy” and “normal” on accident. As detailed in the video, milk was previously a “survival technology.” This means that, during WWI, the US sent powdered milk to soldiers as a cheap, efficient way to transport calories and fight malnutrition. Meanwhile, American famers cultivated large amounts of milk products because doing so was easy and in demand. This stimulated the economy, allowing for a positive impact on the government and people.
After the war, farmers wanted to continue to produce dairy products as steady source of revenue. Consumers liked dairy, the government was happy and everyone was winning. Still, there was a major surplus of dairy products, so government agencies began to advertise and advocate for dairy in order to sell more of it.
As a result, the ‘Got Milk?’ campaign occupied every other magazine page and legislators accepted funding from dairy marketing boards in exchange for speaking positively on behalf of the dairy industry in Congress.
Today, the average American eats over 31 pounds of cheese annually. This implies that we like dairy and we think dairy is good for us.
In reality, several studies show that dairy doesn’t strengthen bones, foods like dark leafy greens and legumes contain just as much calcium (sans the saturated fat) and overconsumption of dairy products puts people at a higher risk of cancer.
While dairy products aren’t the worst thing you could eat, they should unquestionably be consumed in moderation if at all. We don’t need dairy to be healthy and would probably be better off without it.