We are almost a milk free household. Yes, I still put a little in my morning coffee and yes, I keep it around for company, but, we do not consume it in large quantities, like the large majority of Americans do. I know it may seem a little crazy, because drinking milk is almost like a religion (we can thank the powerful dairy industry lobby for that) in this country, but humans are the only species that drinks milk after weaning and drinks the milk of another species. (That actually sounds kind of gross to me when I ponder that!)
We get our calcium from the following sources:
- BEANS, especially pinto and chickpeas (A delicious chili can be made with a few different types of beans. Sometimes vegetarian and sometimes with meat)
- TAHINI (who doesn't love hummus?)
- BROCCOLI (sauteed with garlic and olive oil — we have this a few times per week)
- ALMONDS, (toast in oven for 8-9 minutes at 350 degrees and you have a delicious snack)
- GREENS, kale, dandelions, turnip greens. (We make green drinks almost daily.)
Milk is implicated in the majority of childhood ear infections and allergies to milk are common. Frequent allergic reactions tax the immune system and generally make people miserable. I believe one of the reasons why we have never had ear infections, frequent colds or missed days of school is because we've avoided the copious amount of milk that the average school age child drinks. My children have grown up marvelously tall, strong and ridiculously healthy without relying on milk. If you, however, decide to forego milk as we did, you must make excellent substitutions as outlined above.
Having said that, we are not at complete avoidance of milk (we eat ice cream on occasion), but it is GREATLY minimized in our daily food intake. So, instead of a bowl of cold breakfast cereal (which is typically a high sugar, refined flour, unhealthy breakfast), we will have whole grain toast with organic unsalted butter or oatmeal with a few chopped almonds or walnuts, a sprinkle of cinnamon and just enough pure maple syrup to sweeten.
Another interesting fact, straight from the World Health Organization, is that the countries with the highest rates of dairy consumption also have the highest rates of osteoporosis! So, why is it that we are told to drink milk for calcium when we can get it from other sources (green vegetables) that are absorbed better and have other trace minerals and vitamins that are good for us. Milk has too much phosphorous and too little magnesium, making it a poor choice for bone building. Again, it is the well funded, powerful dairy lobby, not with our best interests in mind.
Although milk is touted by many health professionals, and it is so common here in America, I am going to pass right over the savvy "Got Milk?" advertisements and go for the greens instead.