Monday January 7, 2013

A frequent bugaboo of the "fiscal cliff" debacle was the "milk cliff," the threat of milk price doubling if Congress failed to extend dairy subsidies. Parents were forgoing other necessities, because their children "had to have milk." Most industries would gladly give up their tax loopholes for that kind of product loyalty. But this one is undeserved.

Consumption of dairy products, laden with saturated fats, cholesterol, hormones, and drugs, elevates the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. This is critical during childhood years, when dietary flaws become lifelong addictions. A study of 12,829 children by Harvard Medical School found that drinking cow’s milk leads to weight gain. Several proteins in cow’s milk can lead to respiratory problems in children.

The good news is that green leafy vegetables and legumes supply all the calcium and proteins touted in cow’s milk. Every supermarket offers a huge line of dairy-free milks, cheeses, and ice creams made from healthy nuts and grains. This is why USDA’s current Dietary Guidelines for Americans push dairy (and meat) off the recommended plate of vegetables, fruits, and grains.

Cow’s milk is produced for bovine -- not human -- babies. Give kids a healthy start!

BERNIE EMMETT

Pittsfield