Greetings, Radiant Ones!
Happy Day 30! Only ten days left of our time together! You are all amazing! It is important to reiterate that each and every one of us is a unique creation with a highly personal, bio-diverse body landscape. Because of the culturally accepted nutritional norms of this country, many people have compromised immune systems and severely depleted stores of beneficial bacteria lining and protecting their gut. Keep in mind that GMOs are known to decimate populations of beneficial bacteria, and many of you may be taking excellent care of yourselves according to your knowledge, but still inadvertently consuming GMOs. Dairy is a huge culprit of these sneaky frankenthings making their way into your belly.
I am quite the mapless explorer when it comes to my own healing. I enjoy going on adventures into my physical terrain and discovering what works for me. I encourage the same in you and in everyone that I love because I truly believe that the secrets we seek lie in the hands of Nature and She wishes to whisper them into every cell in our body if we are willing to listen and be courageous enough to experiment with Her medicine.
Raw milk is one such medicine. If you feel your immunity could use a boost, I would suggest you start off slowly with raw milk. Again, only two people in the past couple of decades has ever died from drinking it (in contrast to a higher number of people who have died from allergic reactions to pasteurized milk). That is an incredibly low number considering that millions of Americans consume it regularly. And cultured raw milk is even safer because of the presence of even more enzyme-producing bacteria (like the bacteria-produced lactase that breaks down lactose). So if you have food allergies, or suffer from chronic conditions, you may want to start with raw kefir or raw butter, or maybe 4 ounces of raw milk and build up. Some people may get a little gassy or have a little diarrhea the first few times. This is a normal reaction, since many strains of unfamiliar, yet beneficial bacteria are being introduced to the body. But once your body is like “oh yeah. Mas please,” you’ll start the process of creating a whole new body geography filled with beautiful, life giving colonies and new, exciting vantage points. Remember: microbial cells outnumber our human cells. It is imperative we befriend the myriad microscopic human rights activists and get as many of them on our team!
If you cannot stomach raw milk because of complicated allergies, please continue to seek out ways to repopulate your gut flora. Maybe with probiotics cultured from coconut or other non-dairy sources, or from fermented vegetables and bone broths. By healing your gut flora and sealing the gut lining (thereby easing the liver’s burden significantly), you may find your food allergies and sensitivities magically disappear over time! I’m on my own path back to the occasional organic pain au chocolat myself. Keep being your own optimal wellness advocate! If you have ethical or religious reasons for not wanting to consume animal products, tomorrow’s guidance will focus on nut and grain milk alternatives. The good news is that there are ways to raise cows sustainably…
When properly operated, raising animals on pasture instead of factory farms is environmentally advantageous. The vast majority of GM corn and soy is used for livestock feed. This creates an increase in fossil fuel emissions as well as an increase in human exposure to these toxic compounds. Animals that graze on grass do their own fertilizing and harvesting. Greens cover the pasture year round, resulting in the harvesting of solar energy and retention of top soil and moisture. Grazed pasture actually removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere - helping to slow down the effects of global warming.
On efficiently managed, biodiverse, pasture-based farms, the animals spread their manure evenly over the soil, creating a natural source of organic fertilizer. The manure maximizes the nutrient-density of the grass and increases the rate of gain of the animals. Bulls naturally mate with the cows instead of the artificial insemination that typically occurs in C.A.F.O.’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation). These cows live a natural life. They are gently milked about two times a day and are able to continue nursing their calves and living in a social environment with other little cow families. It’s a closed, humane, sustainable system. And because these cows aren't injected with hormones, they produce significantly less milk. This drives the price up for the raw milk consumer. I spend close to $9 on a half gallon of raw milk. At this price it becomes a delicacy for the proletariats amongst us! But this is how you voice your choice. Let your dollars speak and help usher in the social change we so desperately need. If you consistently get yourself a Coffee Bean chai latte, a conventional gallon of skim milk, or Breyer's ice cream, you are directly endorsing GMOs, fossil fuels and dismal living conditions for cows. If you treat yourself to a half a gallon every once in a while, and minimize your consumption of conventionally raised animals, your body heals exponentially, you become an active participant in culture shifting, and you get to go to heaven. Bonus!
Of course we cannot expect perfection from ourselves in every situation - but we can certainly strive for it! There will be a wedding, or a road trip, or a birthday party where you're stuck with Starbucks and conventionally raised, herb roasted chicken. Don't punish or starve yourself. It happens. Clean eating is a life long process and educational endeavor.
In a confinement operation (C.A.F.O), the animals are crowded on top of one another into stench-filled sheds or kept outdoors on barren land, and their feed is shipped from distant fields. The crops used for feed are almost exclusively genetically modified, treated with fossil-fuel based fertilizers, sprayed with pesticides, and planted, tilled, and harvested with heavy, mechanical equipment, requiring non-renewable fuel. The feed created in these conditions is then transferred to separate feed manufacturers, where it is dried, flaked or turned into pellets and mixed with other ingredients. After all of these natural resource depleting processes, the feed is finally shipped to the animals, utilizing even more fossil fuel for transport. These animals are in a very sad and completely unnatural state of affairs. The average lifespan of a conventional dairy cow is 42 months, compared with 10-12 years for a pastured cow. (*note: "pastured" means raised on edible pastures, while "pasteurized" means treated with heat to kill off microorganisms).
A conventional dairy cow is injected with hormones and antibiotics its whole life. These methods are both preemptive and proactive. The preemptive part is that they are fed a grain-based diet, which they don’t have the proper digestive enzymes to process, thereby creating acidity and resultant illness in the cows. If they are shot up with antibiotics, then they won’t die as quickly. The proactive part is that the hormones injected into them make them produce milk far beyond the natural course of lactation, enough milk to nurse 15 calves. My boobs used to hurt when they were filled with milk for my one little nursling, I can’t imagine what it might feel like to nurse 15 babies. Ouch. Poor little cows! And here’s the craziest part: these are the cows that supply approximately 85-95% of dairy products in this country! Imagine if there was a strong enough shift in consumer spending in regards to dairy. It could change the bleak future of global warming we anticipate significantly.
Not everyone can afford raw milk, or even has access to it. The viable option if you are not lactose intolerant is to consume organic, grass-fed pasteurized dairy products. If you can get it non-homogenized, even better! Notice how when you pour your conventional glass of milk, the color and texture is uniform? Homogenization is the process of destroying the natural butter fat cells found in raw, unadulterated milk. Extreme pressure breaks apart the soft buoyant fat cells, which cause the remaining small fat pieces to blend into milk and no longer float to the top where the cream typically sits. There have been several European studies suggesting this is a dangerous process and may strongly contribute to heart disease. I buy Organic Valley Grass Fed whole milk (non-homogenized) when my raw milk budget shrinks. Organic Valley also has a wonderful organic, grass-fed and grass-finished butter (meaning grass made up 100% of their diet). But if you are unable to find it, I do love the Kerrygold grass fed butter available at Trader Joe’s and other popular grocery stores for about $3. You’ll notice grass fed butter is different from conventional butter because it is a beautiful, deep yellow hue due to the increased fat-soluble vitamin goodness in it. Kerrygold is from Ireland and during the winter months, the cows are fed grains if fermented grass from the previous season is not available. They also have high sustainability standards and do not use pesticides. But during the time period where they may have to supplement their cows' diet with grains, a maximum of 3% of those grains may be from GM sources. Wah-wah. However, that amount is so minimal when compared to the vast majority of their pastured diet, that I would still recommend it over organic, grain-fed butter. It is pasteurized, but cultured dairy products are more alive than plain pasteurized milk. So occasionally consuming organic grass-fed butter and full fat yogurt is ok even if it isn’t always raw. And if you are casein intolerant, grass-fed ghee is a wonderful option for you! It is casein and lactose free! I almost exclusively consume ghee over butter at home.
Besides the beneficial bacteria, over 60 recognized, fully intact enzymes, increased nutrient value, and environmental friendliness of raw, grass fed milk, one of the most promising nutritional perks has to do with a recent discovery found in this milk: Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is abundant in milk from grass-fed cows, and has a perfect omega 3:6 ratio (the essential fatty acids critical to the proper function of the body). In a French study, women who had higher levels of CLA in their blood reduced their chance of having a heart attack by nearly 75%. CLA raises the metabolic rate and helps remove abdominal fat (this is why I always say good fat pulls out the bad fat. Eat avocados! Drink raw, whole milk)! CLA also reduces resistance to insulin (good news if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic), strengthens the immune system, boosts muscle growth and lowers food allergy reactions. And grass-fed milk has about 5 times the conjugated linoleic acid that conventional milk has! Yes!!!
If you don’t have access to raw milk and can handle dairy, please only consume organic, grass-fed, non-homogenized whole milk pasteurized dairy. A lot of conventional supermarkets carry grass fed dairy options. Organic is best to avoid pesticides potentially used on the grasses, but avoiding GMOs may be an even stronger priority for you. I believe "grass-fed" is key over "organic," and "organic" over "raw." Because even if the cows are eating an organic, grain-based diet – that’s not natural to them and not what they should be eating. Of course, there will be times when you are confronted with even more sparse choices. Choose organic when it comes to dairy. Some cafes serve organic milk with their coffee drinks. It’s probably not grass-fed, but at least you skip over the GMO’s. Again, do your best with what you have and where you are in any given moment! It is not about perfection as destination, but rather about the pursuit of perfection on a moment by moment basis.
Note: *a lot of water is required to produce a gallon of milk. About 880 gallons. Same as what it takes to produce a gallon of coffee! But a lot of water is required to produce a gallon of almond milk as well. Each almond requires 1 gallon of water to grow. And a gallon of wine requires even more water! Just over 1,000 gallons of water for one gallon of wine. Many vegans argue that it isn't sustainable to drink milk. But if these same critics drink coffee and wine, then they are also consuming products that require inordinate amounts of water. What I propose is that if you are an omnivore, you do your absolute best to only purchase animal products that were raised locally and humanely. Purchasing imported animal products makes us part of the environmental problems our planet is facing. It leaves a huge carbon footprint due to the burning of fossil fuels to transport those products. It also potentially implicates us as consumers in the decimation of rainforests. Don't consume animal products imported from South America, as you can almost guarantee that acres of Amazonian rainforest were cut down for cattle ranching. That is not only unsustainable, it is destructive in ways we are only beginning to quantify and understand. Be a locavore! And a qualitarian! Eat less animal products and opt for higher quality!
More on alternative milk options in tomorrow’s guidance. Have a magical, glorious day!!!
©Erika Elizondo, H.H.C