Full fat is only way to go
By Trent Loos
Last week I had the great opportunity to speak at the Australian Dairy Conference meeting in Geelong, Victoria, Australia. While I did get to spend a little time on a couple of dairy farms, I witnessed a very different style of production where seasonal milking is more the norm. However, there is one thing that jumped out at me even more: the marketing and consumption of dairy products is vastly different from here in the States.
I went into a Coles grocery store in Geelong. I have visited a Coles on every trip to Australia in the past three years because this chain tends to be the one store that pushes the envelope the most when it comes to the niche marketing of milk, meat and eggs. For example, I found 100 percent free range eggs for $9.20 a dozen!
Let me start by saying that the most impressive thing in the dairy fluid milk aisle was, without question, the space dedicated to “Full Fat Milk.” That is exactly how it was labeled. I would estimate that 80 percent of the fluid milk for sale on the shelf was indeed whole milk as opposed to our 80 percent being low fat milk versions.
A little research will teach you that per capita consumption of fluid milk in this country is currently estimated at around 106 litres (28 gallons), growing strongly over the last two years, and at very high levels compared to many countries. This is thanks in no small part to the expansion of the “coffee culture” in Australia during the last decade.
This would appear to be a good time to point out that earlier this month research has once again substantiated the claim that whole fat, real milk from cows is the most healthy nutrition we can get. Even the “always subject to the selective portrayal of the truth” radio station National Public Radio (NPR) reported:
“In one paper, published by Swedish researchers in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care, middle-aged men who consumed high-fat milk, butter and cream were significantly less likely to become obese over a period of 12 years compared with men who never or rarely ate high-fat dairy.
“The second study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, is a meta-analysis of 16 observational studies. There has been a hypothesis that high-fat dairy foods contribute to obesity and heart disease risk, but the reviewers concluded that the evidence does not support this hypothesis. In fact, the reviewers found that in most of the studies, high-fat dairy was associated with a lower risk of obesity.”
I will once again remind you that there is a tremendous amount of scientific evidence supporting the consumption of fat from animal sources and proving that it does not lead to body fat in humans. In this case, the whole, full fat milk does not make people fat and in fact just the opposite is true. Dr. Mark Cook from the University of Wisconsin has proven that whole milk consumption gives you the benefit of conjugated linoleic acids, which are heart-healthy fats that low fat milk does not provide.
So the question remains: Why has Australia, a country with only 23 million people and only 1.6 million dairy cows, remained such a good consumer of whole milk products and we in the United States have not? Why have we fallen prey to the unscientific message that full fat milk is somehow not good for you?
I don’t have the answer for that but what I am sure of after this last trip to Australia is that I am more convinced than ever that we can not let our marketing folks continue to charge down the path of convincing consumers that the only way to get the essential protein and fats needed for human health is through cheese or yogurt. The science clearly sends a different message whether you are Down Under or right here at home in the United States of America.
Tell your friends and neighbors, your school boards and their kitchen staff and most of all let your grocer know that he needs to start filling those shelves with nutritious whole milk!
Editor’s note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com, or email Trent at firstname.lastname@example.org.