People (including me!) are so sanctimonious about food and healthy eating

There I was on the Washington Post’s health blog, reading about cereal, when I made the mistake of breaking rule #1 of life on the Internet: Never read the comments.

You’d think I would know better, right? But noooo, there I was, reading a dozen pompous comments about how boxed cereal is a tool of Satan and everybody who eats it is poisoning themselves blah blah blah.

I was getting eyerolly enough and then came the commenter who said she only ate steel-cut oats personally picked by Guatemalan peasants (okay, that part might only have been in my brain) and eaten with raw milk.

And that is when my brain exploded in a very messy fashion all over the living room. Because if you think I get strident when it comes to the wonders of vaccination, I know you’ve never suggested the drinking of raw milk in my presence. The words “raw milk” can cause a high-pitched shriek to come involuntarily out of my mouth.

What is raw milk? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized to kill all the bacteria, viruses, and parasites that might have crept in during the process of milking and packaging the milk. Y’know, fun stuff like salmonella and E. coli and listeria and brucellosis and…

Because let’s face it: I don’t care how happy and healthy your cow is…it doesn’t live in a clean room, it tromps around in the mud and the bugs and its own feces. And ol’ Bessie isn’t taking a shower before she’s milked.

There is a lingering belief that raw milk is somehow healthier because it contains healthy bacteria (probiotics) or more nutritional value. Unfortunately, neither of those is true. If you’re looking for probiotics, check out many of the other products like yogurt that contain them. And the short heating process of pasteurization does not cause the loss of any significant amount of nutrition, but it does make the milk a million times safer to drink.

Pasteurized milk is one of the greatest public health inventions…right up there with my beloved vaccinations.

Of course, now that I’ve ranted about raw milk and been nearly as pompous as the original raw milk commenter, I have to admit something embarrassing. I wouldn’t feed my kids raw milk for anything…but not only do I lick the bowl when I’m making cakes or cookies, but I let my young kids do it too. (Um, if my husband is reading this, I’m doooooomed, because he hates when I do that.)

Yup, I sometimes let ’em get a taste of raw eggs. ::sigh:: Which, granted, is somewhat safer than raw milk, but still dangerous. (I really need to start buying pasteurized eggs, darn it.) So why do I do it? How do I justify this?

Such as it is, here’s my justification: There’s no advantage to raw milk, no benefit to be gained over drinking pasteurized milk, but I consider licking the bowl to be one of the greatest reasons to make cookies.

Yeah, it’s a sucky justification. You can go ahead and call me a hypocrite, but for me it’s all about balancing risks and benefits. There is a small risk to that taste of raw egg but I’m willing to take the risk. I see no reason to take the larger risk of raw milk for a nonexistent benefit.


About mamamara

I'm a 40-something, work-at-home mother of two. I'm pro-vaccine, pro-medicine, pro-science, and an avid reader of information about all of the above, and I want to combine my love for my children with my love for science. So here we are!
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8 Responses to People (including me!) are so sanctimonious about food and healthy eating

  1. Beth C. says:

    Raw milk scares me. Also, the current president of the MOMS Club that I belong to is a registered dietician and, at one monthly meeting, gave a presentation on cereal and how it’s a fine and dandy breakfast to give our kids. She gave us some tips on how to pick the best ones, but allowed that even Fruit Loops are okay every once in a while and are certainly better than skipping breakfast. And if my friendly neighborhood RD says it’s okay, I’m all in.

  2. Josephine says:

    I think we could get rid of the whole whole debate by not drinking any milk. Cow’s milk is for baby cows! 😀 We only use milk for cooking, cereal, and dunking cookies.

    • mamamara says:

      But I like milk and so do my kids 🙂 I’m not much of a breakfast eater, but I can usually manage to choke down a Carnation Instant Breakfast in the morning, and that keeps me going.

    • mamamara says:

      Oh yes, I’d forgotten about that! I think you linked me to that, which is what finally convinced me to kick Cinnamon Toast Crunch out of our house for good 🙂

  3. KA says:

    The two most smug and sanctimonious groups of people in food blogging are:

    1. vegans
    2. anti-vegans

    They’re so cute, the way they don’t realize that if you did a find/replace for food items in their posts, it would be impossible to tell them apart.

    • mamamara says:

      Oh yes! There’s nothing worse than the “I lovingly handpick each of my vegetables” and “I slaughter my own cow” crowds. ::eyeroll:: Gimme a break. And y’know what, I like *both* meat and vegetables. So there.

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