In a New
York Times column, "Got Milk? You
Don't Need It" Mark Bittman recently attacked the premise that
drinking milk is healthy. After suffering a lifetime of acid reflux
and heartburn, Bittman cured his problem in just 24 hours by going
off dairy products.
But Bittman doesn't just argue against dairy consumption by those
who have heartburn. He goes on to attack the image of the bucolic
milk cow and farmer, "Then, of course, there are our 9
million dairy cows, most of whom live tortured, miserable lives
while making a significant contribution to greenhouse gases." He
argues against the idea that milk helps build strong bones,
"In fact, the rate of fractures is highest in milk-drinking
countries, and it turns out that the keys to bone strength are
lifelong exercise and vitamin D, which you can get from sunshine."
He also throws in a few grenades against big dairy and government
The counter arguments have been flying and seem to
concentrate on two areas -- Bittman's personal experience is hardly
a legitimate medical test and his science is faulty. In The
Huffington Post, Will Fertman has written a column titled "A Reply to
Mark Bittman's Milk Freak-Out, Part 1: Don't Be a Weasel." He
leads off with the argument that "his [Bittman's] column is filled
with bad arguments about dairy, and milk in particular, propped up
with some highly dubious 'experts'."
And, interestingly, today's Wall Street Journal, The
New Science Behind Today's Deadliest
Diseases (subscription required), notes that research
indicates, "Dairy foods may help ease inflammation in
patients with a combination of risk factors."
As with most things when it comes to food and science,
particularly in the health sphere, it seems the final word has yet
to be spoken. We're pleased that Mr. Bittman has cured his acid
reflux, but we remain skeptical that he should be advocating a
wholesale stand against a primary food group based solely on his
personal experience, his personal physician's advice, and one
scientific quote. As always, we feel that good food should be
celebrated, not feared.