[ Bjarni R. Einarsson / blog: IS EN ]


Happy holy cows: healthy me?

2001-05-05 16:33
About an hour ago I sat at home eating potato chips and drinking pepsi. Oh the irony... while gorging myself on those less-than-ideal foods I was reading about the virtues of organic milk. Interesting stuff. Like everyone else in the organic biz, the milk-sellers claimed to have figured out why Americans are fat, and like everyone else they had a solution: Organic milk will save the day! Riiiight.

Anyway. After I had read all there was to read I put away the chips and grabbed an organically grown pear (Unnur buys them :-) from the fridge and went out to walk and shop and think.

The difference between organic milk and normal milk is twofold - happier cows and less processing before the milk is packaged and sent off to the store. This is essentially the difference between most organic foods and their "normal" counterparts. Happy cows.

Now, why exactly should milk from happy cows be healthier than milk from unhappy cows? Although it sounds silly, it really does make sense. The human body evolved in a world full of happy cows (cows that ate grass, excercised etc.) and Darwin being the clever chap he is, our bodies probably learned to take advantage of (and depend on) things found in the happy cows' milk. So when you switch to non-organic milk, as most of the western world has done in the past century you can expect things to be missing which our bodies have come to depend upon. If you change the diet and routine of the cows, then their milk will change too.

The result is we get fat, cancer and heart attacks. For a long time people tried to focus on single culprits, like sugar or fat, to explain away these problems. "Avoid (evil food here) or you'll die!" But it's not that simple, is it? Fat is good for you. Fat is bad for you. Carbohydrates are good for you. Unless you eat them with certain kinds of fat. And so on. Confusing.

This is what a lot of the tree-hugging-hippy-crap is focusing on these days - improving our health by emulating the environment we evolved in. Don't worry about how exactly it works - just take it on faith until the scientists catch up! Trust mother nature! Although many of the people advocating this stuff are just cooks, it really does make sense as long as you don't take it to silly extremes.

It's essentially a new religion. I'm not terribly fond of religions, because they tell people not to think and give religious leaders way too much power over their followers. But prejudice, religion - taking things on faith does save a lot of time. I think I'll try and curtail my prejudice against the organic-food cults. Maybe I'll even join them.

Note: Although I only wrote about milk and cows, the same line of reasoning goes for any natural food. It is in fact far more applicable to basic things like grain, fruit and meat - drinking cows milk may be a relatively recent "fad" which Darwin hasn't noticed yet. Anyway - generalizing properly is left as an excercise for the reader. Bon appetit!

     Organic milk (Hrafnkell)

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