"When a woman stays at home and cooks with good judgment and understanding, peace and happiness result. She thus controls the family's health and destiny, also her husband's mood, disposition and feeling, and assures the futures of her children." - Jaques DeLangre

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why I Changed My Mind About Cheese and Milk

When I went almost vegan 7 years ago I was convinced that all animal products were bad for our bodies. I cut out all animal products from my cooking and thought that our low-fat diet was the way to go. Not too long after that I read a book called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, DDS. He told the story of his quest to find out why his American patients had such rampant tooth decay and other health issues. He decided to travel around to little isolated towns and villages throughout the world. Places where the "modern" Western diet hadn't been eaten. The book documents his findings with written words and pictures of people in these isolated places. What he found was that people who ate their native, traditional diet had strong bones, no tooth decay, no tooth crowding, no diseases, etc. The diets they followed differed a little from town to town, but they all basically ate what they grew from the ground and the animals they raised. They all ate animal fat, grain, veggies and fruit in their season and most of them ate dairy products.

What really caught my attention was that NOT ONE of these healthy populations ate a vegetarian diet. There was something in the animal products that contributed to the great health of these people. Dr. Price called it Activator X. I decided then to add eggs and a little cheese into our diet, and even some skim milk. We had maybe one serving of dairy a day. We still kept to a very low-fat diet. I mostly used olive oil and vegetable shortening when I cooked. I rarely used butter. I kept a few sticks of it in the fridge for buttering toast or putting on popcorn. My theory was that milk was meant for turning a 100 pound calf into a 500 pound cow as quickly as possible. It was not meant for humans. We are the only mammal that drinks the milk of another mammal.

As my food education progressed I learned about the terrible conditions cows and chickens were raised in. I felt even more sure that meat,milk, and eggs should play a very small role in our diet. Not to mention all the saturated fat these things contained! EW!

My food education took a huge detour when I really started to read and study Dr. Price's ideas and the books written by Sally Fallon. (She, by the way, is the president of the Weston A. Price foundation. They have a great website, check it out! I'll put the link at the bottom of this post.) The idea that people have been living healthy lives eating traditional foods for thousands of years really made me stop and think. I had to throw out my milk theory because I saw how plain silly it was. If you want to get crazy with that theory you can. We shouldn't eat eggs because they are potentially baby chicks who deserve to live! We shouldn't eat any meat because animals have rights! We shouldn't eat honey because it is stealing from the bees who work so hard to produce it. Do you see what I mean? What about the theory that a loving God created these things to sustain and nourish us? That's the theory I feel best about right now.

I also feel strongly that grains and fruits and veggies should make up the bulk of our diet. In a minute I'll give some sample menu plans I follow. The thing is, we need to be very careful about our FOOD SOURCES! We need to get our food from our own back yards as much as possible and then after that look for ways to get food that has not been doctored up with hormones, chemicals, and antibiotics.

I also feel strongly that a low-fat diet is actually BAD FOR YOU. That is why I am okay with the cheese and butter and milk. We have to get fat in our diets. If you go walk around the grocery store on a Fat Hunt, what will you find? Fat in peanut butter (hydrogenated), fat in cookies (hydrogenated), fat in processed oils, ie. canola, safflower, LIGHT olive oil, (rotten and bleached!) vegetable shortening (hydrogenated) processed milk products (DEAD and full of hormones and chemicals, eggs (from confined chickens fed a corn & grain based diet - not natural to their species), meat (from animals raised in confinement and therefore dosed with hormones and antibiotics, not to mention the poor diet they eat!) SO... where can we get healthy fats?

Here's my list:
Olive Oil - NOT the LIGHT variety - it's processed too.
Raw Milk
Pasture fed meat
Pasture fed chicken eggs
Raw nuts and raw nut spreads
Sour Cream

This is why I'm okay with cheese, butter, and sour cream:
I would not buy my local store's brand of cheese or sour cream. I use Tillamook cheese. It is made from cultured, natural, no hormones added milk. We don't eat tons of it, but I use it almost daily to jazz up what I am making. I look for the best quality butter I can. Butter is a simple fat that is easily digested by our bodies. Butter is real! While I have not been able to find any made from raw milk, butter is a better choice for cooking and flavoring than the hydrogenated shortenings and the newfangled oils that are SO over-processed and just plain bad for you. I'm still trying to learn more about butter. I just can't cook everything in olive oil! I buy Daisy sour cream. The ingredient list is short - Cultured Cream. Sour cream is great made into dip, in soup, on pizza, I LOVE it! Someday I will have a few cows and make my own cheese and butter. In the mean time I'm just trying to get the best I can.

Bottom line:
We need fats in our diet. I'm going to use the fats that are naturally occurring on the earth, that are not processed and that have been valued as a healthy part of diets for thousands of years. I feel good about my choice.

A Few Sample Menus:

B - Soaked oatmeal w/ cream, raisins and apples
L - Pizza: soaked whole-wheat dough, organic pepperoni, tomato sauce, cheese
D - Chili: soaked beans, spices, home-canned tomatoes and soaked dough rolls

B - Scrambled eggs, fruit, and milk
L - Raw milk smoothies and soaked dough apple muffins
D - Soaked dough cheese sandwiches

B - Soaked dough muffins, fruit and milk
L - Soaked rice, zucchini(fried in butter) soaked rolls and carrots
D - Roast beef, veggies and soaked rolls

I try to have chopped veggies or air-popped, buttered popcorn for snacks. I also try to set out lacto-fermented pickled beets or pickles with the meals. Butter and cheese are not a big part of the meals. The raw milk and grains are. I use raw milk to culture buttermilk for the soaked dough, so we get it there too.

This has been a really long post!! Thanks for reading it. This topic has been rolling around in my head and I REALLY needed to get it out! Please ask me questions if there are any I haven't answered.

Here's the link for the Weston A. Price Foundation.


  1. Very informative! Thank you so much for shining a bright light on a subject that is so important. I finally feel like I can see food for what it is and make the best choices & changes for me and my family. A few questions: Is extra virgin olive oil "light" olive oil? And, Do you use lard in your cooking? How do you culture buttermilk from raw milk?

  2. Couldn't you your own butter in the Kitchen Aid? Maybe start it like you're making whippped cream, but then let it keep going and add some salt?

  3. *Make* your own butter" is what I meant!

  4. I loved this post. I feel very much the same. You should read "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan. You would love it. Seriously, read it.