Last week my friend sent me a picture of veggie shredded cheese, almond milk and bean pasta with the caption, “Fail!!” I had to laugh because I’ve been there. Whether it’s for medical reasons, ethical reasons, or just healthy living, I think a lot of health-conscious people are taking a second look at dairy. We may have grown up with that sexy ad “Got milk?” but just like cigarettes, it was part of a culture. A culture that may need a second look.
So why did something so good for you become less shiny a model? This is something that I started questioning after reading the book “The Science of Skinny.” To answer this question, you have to look at how the mass market has changed things. We’ve gone from only drinking milk if you had a milking cow and could drink it immediately or not drink milk at all, to modern-day pasteurization. Pasteurization was extremely important because of disease. The late 1800s-early 1900s marked a major change in milk production. We started bottling milk and not drinking it immediately, pasteurizing, homogenizing and generally changing a “whole food” into something processed at least twice before you actually get it. With the growth hormones added and not knowing what your “happy cows” were actually eating and being exposed to, a once healthy complete food became a not so healthy incomplete food. Don’t get me wrong, I think boiling bacteria is good, but by the time you’ve brought it home pre-boiled, unnaturally blended permanently, and then using it for your recipes which may include re-boiling it, it is way more processed than we want in a whole food. And way over-consumed.
For me, I have concluded that I prefer not to eat dairy unless I have gotten it raw, checked that cows have gotten TB shots from the company, and the only processing done is what I choose to do. Sure, note that this is probably a little more risky. But, funny thing, my negative reactions to milk are significantly reduced when I’ve had it as a whole food instead of a processed food. Hmmmmmmmm. Needless to say, since I only know of one place around me that carries a raw milk brand I trust, I generally don’t drink milk or have any dairy in my diet. And for cheese, I opt for raw cheese or stay plant-based. As you can see, my decisions are made based on health and the most whole, not processed option I have available. I’m not a “cheese shreds” kinda girl if I can help it because that plant-based, processed food option can have just as many negative effects as a dairy option.
Why do I go into all this? Because I want to give a friend her mac and cheese back. She loves it, but can’t eat dairy. And there is nothing I hate more than someone feeling like eating healthy means they have to give up eating well. Sure, mac and cheese is not going to taste the same as Kraft cheese when it’s made from scratch, but maybe we’re looking at this all wrong. Taste should be pleasing when it’s real whole food, not the other way around. I vote we should find a whole foods version of these processed meals we love, and I look forward to making it dairy-free, risk-free, and totally amazing.
New to Foodscape? Every month I choose a new recipe and really dive in! I tell you why I chose that recipe the first week, whether it’s from a childhood memory, a new healthy take, or to help a friend out. Then I explain what equipment you need to make it, the shopping list, and on the 4th week, I give you the recipe. This way you get to experience the recipe through my eyes! Let me know what you think of this new format in the comments, or if you need any additional tips during the 4-week exploration. This month is Mac and Cheese! Thanks for reading. 🙂