The Oiling of America

Last year, my friend Brad Marshall sent me an article that challenged just about everything I knew about what it meant to “eat healthy.” That New York Times article, called, “What if It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?” set off a several-month-long process, educating me about diet, nutrition, fats, oils, hydrogenation, vitamins, minerals, organic farming, grass-fed livestock, raw milk, et cetera and so on…

Yesterday at lunch, my friend Lisa and I had a brief discussion about nutrition. I asked her if she was of aware of the ridiculous set of circumstances that led to the current set of dietary recommendations in the United States.

The Oiling of America is a fascinating look at how a combination of bad science and politics led to a set of recommendations that both make up the most basic components of what you think to be true about nutrition, yet at the same time are certainly not the best for your health.

I encourage you to read “The Oiling of America,” for your own health and because it will be the basis for a string of nutrition-related entries I’ll be posting to brad lauster (dot com) over the next month.

Here’s to your health!

13 thoughts on “The Oiling of America”

  1. Hi Clynton,
    Thanks for your comment. I’d love to hear more about the information you have on milk.

    I agree that most of the milk available in your average supermarket is garbage—highly processed, derived from cows fed a diet of “soy meal, cottonseed meal or even bakery waste, chicken manure or citrus peel cake, laced with pesticides.” *

    That stuff is nasty, but there are tasty, nutritious alternatives. Raw milk, that is, milk that comes from the cow to the bottle to you without pasteurization or homogenization, tastes great!

    It’s funny to me that for so many, the solution to the problems created by processing milk is not to stop processing the milk, but to create new problems by fortifying the processed milk or by switching to an entirely different processed product, such as soy milk.

    My own choice is to drink raw milk from Claravale Dairy. I get it at Whole Foods in Palo Alto, which is just a couple blocks from my apartment. Claravale Dairy doesn’t have a website yet, but the milk is mentioned on the website of the Sacramento Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

    Raw milk is available in many US states and countries across the world. The Where can I find real (raw) milk page lists many sources.

    * Paraphrased from the What is Real Milk page on There are a lot of good articles about the failings of modern, processed milk and on the benefits of raw milk on that site.

  2. It’s made for baby calves. We’re the only species that drink another’s milk! Even the medical profession is beginning to realize how bad the stuff is. While raw milk is indeed better, it’s still bad for you. Soy’s the way to go, man. I thought I could never do it, but actually prefer it over milk now. Sooo many health benefits it’s almost insane.

    I appologize for not having some good links for you right now. Hopefully will shortly.

    Was very glad to see your post about Röyksopp being in town. Too bad I saw it just too late, though! How was it? I missed one of my favorite music makers there awhile back: Amon Tobin. Really wish I made that one.

  3. Some more thoughts: The dairy industry just made up the whole 2 cups a day thing. Absolutely no research that supports that.

    It increases risk of diabetes when children drink it, and of course causes all sorts of allergies when infants have it.

    It’s crazy to think that not having milk is now considered the odd thing, when having it is what’s not natural.

    You get far too much protein and fat in milk.
    Having that much can cause all sorts of problems, including osteoporosis and cancer.

  4. I think the debate over cow milk vs. soy milk is one of the most complex, interesting and timely of all in the health/ecology debates. Let me quickly sum up the arguments on both sides:

    The Pro-Soy people argue this:

    Benefits of Soy:
    – prevents cancer
    – loaded with phytochemicals
    – ecologically friendly
    – asians eat it and they have less cancer/heart disease

    Disadvantages of Milk:
    – high in fat
    – causes osteoperosis, heart disease and cancer
    – wasteful to feed cows grain
    – milk is for baby cows

    The Pro-Milk people argue this:

    Advatages of milk:
    – many traditional cultures rely on the milk (or fermented milk) as THE dietary staple and are suprememly healthy (much more so than us)
    – Has REAL vitamin’s A(retinol) and D (D2) which are not found in soy milk
    – the only common dietary source of short and medium chain fats, which possibly increase energy and boost imune function

    Disadvanatges of Soymilk:
    – loaded with phytochemicals, most of which are estrogenic and therefore potentially cancer-causing
    – loaded with phytate, which blocks mineral absorption
    – loaded with trypsin inhibitors, which inhibit protein digestion
    – usually loaded with sugar, which increases your chances of getting diabetes

    The fact is that there is very little (read: almost none) peer-reviewed scientific literature to compare these claims with. What is clear is that in most of the studies which say milk is bad are done on pasteurized, homogenized, fortified milk, not REAL milk from grazing cows. There has probably not been a scientific study done on raw milk since the first half of this century. The best evidence we have is from traditional societies which consume very large amounts of raw milk products from grazing animals and have excellent bone and teeth structure and few modern diseases. For an example of this see The Masai or Dinkas in Africa, the ancient Swiss or any number of goat/sheep herding societies in Eurasia.

    Of course, there are no traditional cultures which consume large amounts of soy milk. Soy consumption is very low (about a teaspoon a day in 1980) in China. The only country where moderate amounts of soy (of any kind) is consumed is Japan. Yes, they are reasonably healthy, but there are of course lots of other factors involved, including large amounts of seafood consumption. A fact of soy milk is that the way in which American soy milk is made is entirely different from traditional asian methods. The traditional method of making soy milk is to grind the beans in water, then slowly bring the liquid to a boil three times. Each time the liquid is boiled, the scum is removed. After this, the product is cooled and you have soymilk. This process removes and denatures much of the phytates and trypsin inhibitors in question. In america, we simply grind the beans in water, add sugar and manufactured vitamins, then sell it. The asian version of soy milk is probably fine for you, although it doesn’t contain nearly the amount of fat suluble vitamins of cow’s milk. Is the American version fine for you? Only time and OBJECTIVE studies will tell.

    So, I think the jury is still out on this debate. I didn’t even get into the ecology of it….

    Brad Marshall

  5. A couple more points:

    1) Above I say that the Chinese eat very little soy products. What I should have said is that they eat very little UNFERMENTED soy products – soy sauce and miso undergo a long fermentation, which also destroys phytates and trypsin inhibitors.

    2) An interesting side note is that is is possibly to live very healthily (is that a word) on milk alone. In fact, around the turn of the century, a common cure-for-what-ails-you was the milk diet, where the patient ate only milk for several weeks. This was said to cure almost anything. Conversely, subsisting on (unfortified) soy milk alone would leave with a severe lack of vitamins A, D and B12 and Omega 3 fatty acids.

    3) I also feel that the dairy council is full of crap, but that doesn’t necessarily make them wrong. Remember that the soy promoters also have an agenda (soy being americas largest crop and largest export) and are probably also prone to half-truths. Always check your sources and look at the primary sources first.

    4) It could be that the least healthy milk is skim. Skim milk has a lot of protein and almost no fat, real vitamin A or real Vitamin D. Traditional cultures would never eat lean protein, which is essentially what skim milk is. It is well known, that the vitamin D, and maybe Vitamin A and Omega 3 fatty acids are needed for proper mineral absorption. Furthermore, over the last century we’ve bred for cows that produce less and less milkfat. Maybe what we need is to get rid of the skim and all drink whole milk.

    5) Saturated fat and cholesterol have never been linked to heart disease. Please do not comment on this without reading “The Oiling of America”, which Brad posted above. I’ve seen the primary data.

    Brad Marshall

  6. You should also read “Fast Food Nation.” While not directy about the same issue, there’s a lot in there about how the large meat-packing industry has basically dictated a lot of the nutritional beliefs of the US via its lobbying power.

  7. Wow, what a great article. It has really made me think about what I am eating. My wife and I have considered ourselves to be “healthy” eaters but after reading that article, I’m not so sure.

  8. Milk does not cause osteoperosis. That is the most ignorant claim ever. You have any proof of this to show for? (aside from some PETA tripe)

  9. Hi Dave,
    I think you missed the point of Brad Marshall’s comment. He wasn’t stating that milk causes osteoporosis, he was saying that’s what the Pro-Soy people argue.

    Of course, demands for proof go both ways, so what proof do you have that milk does not cause osteoporosis?

  10. Well, I’m afraid Dave is incorrect. Milk does help cause osteoporosis.

    Many experts in the medical field say that as far as they are concerned, there’s no debating the danger of drinking milk. There’s simply no evidence that milk is more beneficial than it is harmful.

    We’ve (yes, I was duped too) all swallowed the BS ads by the dairy industry for so long and went along with the crazy idea that milk was good for us. It quite possibly is the biggest fleecing of America we’ve ever seen. Certainly a cultural phenomenon (of which there are, unfortunately, far too many).

    Yes, milk does cause osteoporosis because it causes calcium deposits in the muscle which gives one agony. There is no Vitamin D benefit since it does not come naturally in milk and can be added to just about any liquid.

    Also check out David Rakel’s book, “Integrative Medicine”, published by Saunders 2003 ( chapter 67, p. 545) because of the point that, “Dairy Products increase
    prostrate cancer by 8 fold”

    And to the argument that you need the milk cultures: simiply not true.

    The brand of soy milk Silk by White Wave (and owned by a large dairy conglomerate; which Peet’s Coffee recently switched to and Starbucks now also uses) adds carrageenan to make it to make it smooth and thicker like milk. The problem with carrageenan has a high level of phosfo lipid which is not an
    ideal balance in lipids. It’s also not recommended for pregnant women (like there are some pregnant women out there) because a decent number of people are allergic to it.

    I will try and get some more evidence posted for you, and better yet, have some of the experts who study this to post their evidence and thoughts.

  11. You have to look at history to really see that unprocessed milk has a more healthful effect on the consumer. I grew up on a dairy farm in Wi, we always drank milk direct from the farm with no processing. My anchestors lived into their early to late 80’s with little health problems. ALL drank “raw” milk. I know people today whodrink it and are health. Heart disease,Cancer, obesity, high blood pressure were nearly unheard of in 2-3 generations back. Mainly because they ate unprocessed foods like milk,eggs,dairy products. If we as a society don’t look back at how our fore-fathers ate we will have many health problems in future Generations. I have started to consume raw milk, grass-fed meats and dairy products,and eggs. I can say that I feel better am losing some weight and enjoy the flavor of my food again as I did when i was a youngster. Thanks, Chuck Bolder

  12. I am including some of the information in this cite in a paper for my honors biology class, and I was just wondering what I can put for your guys’ place of publication, your publisher,the editor, and the year of publication. Any information would be great. Thanks, Chelsea.

Comments are closed.