Saturday, November 26, 2011
Why I Consider Milk Sacred
I'm in a strange mood today. I can't seem to write, and nothing looks appealing. I don't want to read, watch TV, not even crochet! So, I'm surfing the net and contemplating life in general. I decided to post something I wrote for a local newsletter because it very concisely states what I believe and why.
Why I Consider Milk Sacred
Today, I could go to the store and buy a gallon of milk, which is so very ordinary, how could this act possibly be considered sacred? From nearly the dawn of mankind, milk has been considered sacred. Goddesses were depicted as mostly breasts for their ability to create milk. The Vedic religion reveres milk; the Hindu religion considers cows to be sacred for their milk.
The very first defined cultures of humankind, the Sumerians and Babylonians worshipped the cow as a goddess, as did the Egyptians, having both a cow goddess, Hathor, and a cow god, Apis. Even the bible is full of references to the sacredness of milk (and honey). If all that is true, then why do we modern Americans consider milk as nothing more than a commodity at best, and something vile to be avoided at worst?
I believe the difference in sacred milk and modern commercial milk is exactly that; commercialism. At no other point in history was milk ever produced as something other than a vital and sacred nourishment. As people grew larger in population, and congregated in ever larger cities, providing milk for everyone became a logistical nightmare. It is impossible for everyone in a city to own a cow on their own property, so a few industrious people decided to own large herds of cows and sell the milk to city-folk… for a profit.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with earning a profit, but things have been done in the name of making money that could not be considered sacred in the slightest. There is a reason the truly spiritual endeavor to live a life without money; money can corrupt.
After the war of 1812 cut off America’s supply of alcohol from Europe, distilleries soon became a part of every city. It was discovered that the waste product – slop – from the distilleries increased the amount of milk a cow produced, and so cows were kept in lots alongside the distilleries. This slop may have increased the amount of milk, but it made the cows sick, and their milk quality was so bad it could not even be churned into butter. It was good for nothing but selling to the inhabitants of the crowded city.
Unsurprisingly, this “milk” from sick cows caused the people who drank it to fall ill, causing a crisis. Of course, the simple and obvious solution of not feeding cows distillery slop – and keeping them on pasture rather than in lots – was not cost effective, therefore a different solution was needed. Concurrently, in France, a man named Louis Pasteur had a theory about germs, and suggested boiling things to kill germs. This theory was applied to the milk from distillery slop fed cows, and resulted in a decrease in overt illness and death from the consumption of it.
To recap, in an effort to decrease costs and increase profits, the problem of bad milk is created, and then in an effort to solve this problem, pasteurization was employed. Since there were arguably more people in cities drinking bad milk than people in the country drinking milk from healthy animals on pasture, the country grew divided on the subject of milk and pasteurization. Plenty of people, including those who wished to continue profiting from the bad milk, became advocates of pasteurization for all milk.
Many doctors prescribed unpasteurized milk from healthy cows for their patients, and from about the 1890’s to the 1940’s here in America, there existed various medical milk commissions and certified raw milk. Why? Because as people have known for many millennia, milk is good, healthy, and even sacred. Nowadays, people have argued that milk is not meant to be consumed by humans after weaning. Arguments against milk include, “no other animal consumes milk after weaning,” and “no other animal drinks the milk of another species.”
This is only true to a point. Having raised plenty of pugs, I can honestly say that the adult dogs will try to nurse off of a milk producing mama as often as she will let them. I have been told by farmers that the same is true for cows. I reason that it is probably true for most animals, and I also know that pretty much any animal I have ever been around will jump at the chance to drink cow’s milk or cream if given some. I guess that the only reason that they don’t regularly drink milk (their own or another species’) is simply because they haven’t figured out how.
I consider milk to be sacred for many of the same reasons my ancestors did. Milk is full of nutrition, and when it comes straight from the cow (i.e. not pasteurized), it is also full of those things our bodies need for vibrant health (such as probiotics and enzymes like lactase). I consider milk to be sacred because if a person had access to absolutely nothing to consume but an acre or so of grass and a milk cow, that person would survive quite healthily on the milk alone for as long as the cow continued to produce. The same cannot be said if the person ate just the grass…
I consider milk to be sacred because it is. As a friend of mine once said, “There is nothing on this planet that was created for the sole purpose of being food except milk. Absolutely everything else has it own reason for being, sure it may be food to us, but that is not the reason it was created.” I agree.
For a more in depth explanation of how conventional milk comes from sick cows and is pasteurized solely to keep people from getting sick from bad milk - please read The Untold Story of Milk by Ron Schmid. Or visit http://realmilk.com/