Tag: Milk

Pique the Geek 20120226: The Things that we Eat. Breast Milk

This is the forth and final installment on my short piece about milk.  This time, instead to focusing on human consumption of milk from other species, in particular from cattle, to the importance of human infants being given human milk until at least six months of age.  The first three installments can be found here, here, and here.

Human milk was universally used up until comparatively recently as the sole food for infants.  However, it was not always the mum of the child that supplied the milk.  Throughout history, surrogate women have supplied milk for other women’s children, a practice know as wet nursing.  This was pretty much confined to the wealthy class when the mum chose not to breastfeed her child and either hired other women to feed them or made slaves to that.  Although not explicitly said, the Mammy character in the book and motion picture was assumed to be Scarlett’s wet nurse.  In other cases friends of relatives of women who for some reason or another could not nurse a baby would fill in for her.  More on that later.

In the 1950s many countries began to encourage the use of infant formula as the “scientific” successor to natural breast milk.  While formula can be a wise choice in many circumstances, the latest research is pretty much a consensus that natural breast milk is superior in almost all ways to formula.  More on that later as well.

Pique the Geek 20120218. The Things That we Eat. Cheese

This is the third part of a four part series about milk.  The first and second parts are here and here.  The final installment will be about human milk with emphasis on its importance to the development of infants.

Cheese is one of the oldest processed food products known.  Whilst the origins of cheesemaking are obscure, it is fairly easy to speculate on how it got started, and we shall look at that in due time.  Archaeological evidence indicates that cheesemaking was an established art at least 4000 years ago, and the actual date of regular production is likely to be much older than that, but no records exist.

Because of the tremendous variety of cheese, I am sure not to mention one of your favorites.  Please pardon that oversight, but I like to keep under 5000 words!  However, I found an expert source that is likely to mention yours, and it appears directly under the fold.

Pique the Geek 20120212: The Things that we Eat. More on Milk

Two weeks ago we began a short series on milk, in particular cow’s milk, used as a food by humans.  We mentioned that humans are the only species to drink any kind of milk after infancy (unless we feed it to animals).  We also mentioned that human milk is the very best food for human infants.  Next week we shall end the series by talking about the advantages of real milk to infants unless readers would rather see a discussion of cheese first.

Last time we pretty much focused on fresh milk and few derivatives of it.  This week we shall look at some of the derivatives of milk, either fresh or fermented.  There is a marvelous variety of liquid milk derivatives available, and some are very delicious.  In addition, there is butter which obviously is not liquid.

For a product as perishable as milk, it is amazing that so many wholesome fermented products can be made from it.  There are reasons for that, and we shall get to them in due course.

Pique the Geek 20120129. The Things that We Eat. Milk

Of all foodstuffs, milk is unique in that it provides all of the nutritional needs for infant mammals.  In addition to nutrition, it also supplies essential antibodies the first few days to newborns.  Milk is unique to mammals, and is one of the reasons that mammals had the evolutionary advantage that they had when they arose during the age of reptiles.

However, humans are also unique in that we are one of the few mammals who continue to take it after infancy, and the only species that continues to take it after adolescence and into adulthood.  Milk is far from the perfect food for adults, but certainly can be part of healthy diet.

Humans are also unique in that we are the only species that takes milk in a natural setting from other species.  By that I mean that we actively collect it, not like giving the cat a saucer of milk.  The nutritive value of milk is species specific, and our habit to taking cows’ milk (for the most part) is quite unnatural.

Monsanto Threatening Organic Alfalfa-Tell the USDA STOP IT NOW

Why America’s Cows Need Your Voice at the USDA by Feb 16 To Stop GMO Alfalfa !

High quality, high protein Alfalfa is one of the primary food sources for dairy cows, especially in winter, with cows eating about 50 lbs or more of dry feed per day, or about 3% of their body weight of around 1500 lbs.  In return for munching all that feed, and drinking lots of water, (25 to 50 gallons)  a dairy cow can produce anywhere from 5 to 8 gallons of milk per day, depending where she is in her lactation cycle, about 56 lbs a day, or over 2,300 gallons a year or 19,825 lbs per year. (A cow’s production is typically measured in hundredweights, or units of a hundred lbs of milk, about 12.5 gallons.)

Organic dairy farming has seen tremendous growth in the last decade, with the number of organic dairy farms increasing by 79% from 2002 to 2007.  Ag land used for organic production on those dairy farms increased by 83% over the same time. Organic milk and cheese is becoming more and more popular, especially for people and children with allergies and auto immune conditions who can’t tolerate regular milk.  The 3 states with the highest number of dairy farms are Wisconsin, New York, and Vermont.  The price of milk production per hundredweight for those three states for organic dairies was about $29, $32, and $34 dollars cwt for the year 2009.  Prices, alas, for organic milk haven’t been keeping up, neither has it been for conventional milk in the past year, and dairy farms are losing money. http://www.cattlenetwork.com/D…

Now, Monsanto threatens to put the nail in the coffin, by deliberately contaminating their feed supply with GMO Alfalfa, destroying the ability of organic dairy farmers to provide non GMO food for their herds.


Late last year, the USDA released a court-ordered Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Monsanto’s new genetically engineered Round-up Ready Alfalfa. A federal lawsuit, led by the Center for Food Safety and joined by The Cornucopia Institute and other plaintiffs, was won in 2007 compelling the USDA to conduct their first-ever environmental impact statement on a genetically engineered (GE) crop, alfalfa.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the USDA’s assessment approves of releasing a new genetically modified crop into the environment, despite the known risks this version of alfalfa poses to organic livestock agriculture.

Public comments are being accepted until February 16. Please let the USDA hear your voice. A broad coalition, composed of both organic and conventional farmers, is opposing Monsanto’s RR Alfalfa and the USDA particularly needs to hear from those involved with organic agriculture.  


What’s different about organic farms?

A specific set of farming practices makes milk and other foods eligible for “certified organic” status. On organic dairies, cows must receive feed that was grown without the use of pesticides, commercial fertilizers or genetically-modified ingredients. They are not treated with supplemental hormones and are not given certain medications to treat illness. If they are given medication, then they must permanently leave the milking herd. They also must have access to the pasture.

Many of the same practices are utilized by conventional dairy farmers, as all farmers make the welfare of their animals and environmental stewardship top priorities.

But if Monsanto has its way, all Alfalfa grown in the United States, and eventually the world, WILL BE Genetically Modified to resist herbicides, being “Roundup Ready.”   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R…   Why should you care ?  Because Alfalfa is a huge crop,  ranked 4th in production, and it is pollinated by bees.  Did anyone ask the bees if they wished to eat this ?  And this would force every alfalfa planting in the nation to eventually be cross contaminated against the will of of the consumer, the organic farmers, and anyone else who doesn’t want to be forced to consume genetically modified products nor force animals to eat massive quantities of them.  

Overnight Caption Contest

Pique the Geek 20090823. The Things that we Eat: BGH Milk

Milk, in its human form, has  been the foundation of nutrition for hominid infants for millions of years.  In the past few millenia, animals have been domesticated for milk and meat.  Many of them are ruminants, but not all are.  The camel and the horse are notable exceptions, highly regarded in several cultures for their milk.

In the western world, kine (aka cattle), (Bos) are almost exclusively used for providing milk in useful quantities.  As a matter of fact, in the United States this is such an important agricultural industry that entire sets of laws and price supports have been enacted.

This essay looks into the the issue of milk that is produced with Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH), (also called Bovine Somatotropin (BST))and will likely prove to be controversial.  This is an important issue, and I will attempt to give it a fair treatment, but remember that many folks have already made up their minds without considering the actual data, and it is difficult to make folks who have already made decisions based on emotion to see logic.  With that said, here we go.

David Walsh selects his favorite films of 2008

Original article, by David Walsh (duh!), via World Socialist Web Site:

2008 will be remembered as the year of a global economic crash and a turning point in modern history. It will not be recalled as a great year in filmmaking, despite a few bright spots. How, when and through whose efforts the consequences of the unfolding economic calamity for masses of people worldwide will find artistic expression is still impossible to say.