What The Dairy?

When I first watched the documentary “What The Health,” I was blown away by some of the statements they made. Dairy isn’t actually healthy for you? The regulations posted by the USDA may actually be harmful for you? Intrigued by these allegations, I decided to research the dairy industry and dairy’s potential negative health effects. I found that although dairy is repeatedly shown to have negative impacts upon both humans and the environment, the dairy industry has continued to lobby the health industry and the government to promote dairy products in order to incentivize customers to continue buying them.

Driven by the incentive to maximize profits, the dairy industry harms the environment. Dairy farms force feed their cows to eat extreme amount of food, thus causing cows from dairy farms to “excrete 18 gallons of manure daily” - much of which “ends up in waterways and drinking water” and “poison[ing] hundreds of square miles of groundwater, rivers, and streams.” These high amounts of manure have become an increasingly significant factor in climate change, as “cows and their manure produce greenhouse gas emissions.”

But more importantly, despite all these negative consequences, dairy is shown to have little to no health benefits for humans. Despite the popular belief that milk helps bone strength, milk may in fact cause bones to become weaker. In a study done by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, it was found that women who “consumed two or more glasses of milk per day had higher risks of broken hips and arms than those who drank one glass or less per day.” In addition, although Americans have some of the highest milk consumption per capita, America has the highest rate of osteoporosis . Dairy also harms people of color at a higher rate than others. According to the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, 95 percent of Asians and approximately 80 percent of African Americans, Ashkenazi Jews, American Indians, and Hispanics were lactose intolerant. Only two percent of those of northern European origin are lactose intolerant. By promoting dairy products, which cause lactose intolerant people to have “bloating, gas, cramps, vomiting, headaches, rashes, and asthma,” the government and other “health” organizations are knowingly promoting foods that harm people of color.

But still, health organizations, such as the The Department of Health and Human Services, recommend that Americans increase their intake of dairy products. According to “What The Health,” the meat and dairy industry have spent “at least $138 million lobbying Congress” so that organizations, such as the American Dietary Association will continue to promote dairy products and thus keep the dairy market intact. The film also revealed that the dairy industry “spends $150 million lobbying public schools,” resulting in school lunches offering chocolate milk and cheese pizza for lunch. By promoting information that causes Americans to believe dairy is healthy, the dairy industry can continue to grow their market. But in reality, their actions will only lead to worldwide health problems - the very thing which they proclaim dairy helps fight against.

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