Friday, March 5, 2010

Post 3: "Real" food vs. "fake" food

A family cow in Bangladesh>>
In the debate between which is better – fake or real foods – real foods almost always win. Fake foods appear to come in at a close second, or sometimes above the real foods in healthfulness. But I think that since eating is an experience and not just the fueling of an engine, assuming that real foods taste better than their fake counterparts, eating the real food is the better experience.

Of course, many times, eating a fake version of a food is the only option we have, and it comes pretty close to the real thing. Take milk, for example. When I go to the store, I don’t expect to see fresh milk delivered that day from the milk man. I expect to buy a product that has been heated above 176 degrees Fahrenheit, homogenized so that the fat and the proteins/water don’t separate, and fortified with Vitamin D. This product has a longer shelf-life than it otherwise would, and “in the 1940's [the addition of Vitamin D] reduced the incidence rate of juvenile rickets by 85% in the United States.” Besides increasing the shelf life, pasteurization was originally instituted to make unclean milk safe, which came from urban dairies in 19th Century Europe.

Clearly, I would rather my milk come from a clean dairy and not need to be heated to kill all the bad germs in it; milk is not innately germy. And I have gone the extra mile to support farmers who are licensed to sell raw milk. In fact, during my high school years, my mother and I would drive to Midvalleyvu Family Farm to pick up “raw milk.” Thus, I remember the taste of unprocessed milk: creamier, fresher – how do I describe it? Just plain better than the heated, processed version.

Besides the taste, I would reason that the nutrient content is basically the same, although I have come across startling statistics that say otherwise. The Weston A Price Foundation reports that significant amounts of vitamins A, B, C, D and E are lost in the heating treatment. Besides this, all the enzymes are destroyed, as are the bacteria, good and bad. Interestingly, the “destruction of phosphatase is one method of testing to see if milk has been adequately pasteurized. Phosphatase is [also]essential for the absorption of calcium.” So, even if my commercial milk is chock-full of calcium, I may not be absorbing it as nature intended.

With this information in mind, I would drink raw milk if I could, notwithstanding that it is illegal to sell it in Wisconsin, the Dairy State, without a special “farm share” in which “members” of one’s farm (much like a stock market share), drive to pick up the milk and it is all bottled on-site. It also needs to be grade A or higher. Of course, this means basically no one can buy raw milk, and the cost to produce it is going to be high, likely at least double of commercial milk. There are in fact committees and bills in the local government that are trying to make and pass laws that would allow for the sale of raw milk in stores. But, I guess until that happens, I will have to either move to California, where selling raw milk in stores (convenience stores, for example) is legal, or get me a cow. Probably the latter. :)

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