LIFE

Let them drink milk

Melissa Hart

Hiding behind the guise of inflated assumptions is not a good look. But that’s what the leader of the biggest animal rights activist group is doing as he begins to push plant-based beverages in the USDA school lunch and breakfast program.So, let’s take a little walk down memory lane. First Wayne Pacelle was concerned about animal welfare saying that all animals should be left to live out their lives wherever they are and that people need to donate to his organization to save all the creatures big and small. In the meantime, people sent millions of dollars to his group that coincidentally had a similar name to the local animal shelter thinking they were providing resources for food and shelter when they were really lining his pockets for his posh lifestyle.Now he’s concerned about the burden of a dairy cow producing milk on an industrialized farm and the “massive body mass she must carry” around. Add to that the students who get milk in schools for two meals a day, the struggling families who don’t have the option of soy-based, non-dairy options and students who don’t have the benefit of a diagnosis that they are lactose intolerant and he’s got a full-blown crisis on his hands.Did I mention that he’s also concerned about those minority groups of non-European descent that are rampant with lactose intolerance? It seems he’s worried that lactose intolerance might have a little diversity and inclusion problem.His solution is to provide plant-based options to students and getting rid of milk mandate that he says has a monopoly on the school lunch menu. He has weaseled his way into Congress and is lobbying for the bill, H.R. 1619, the Addressing Digestive Distress in Stomachs of Our Youth (ADD SOY) Act which requires public schools to offer soy milk to kids participating in the National School Lunch program and directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reimburse schools for the cost of the soy milk provided.When I see someone with a long history of zero tolerance of animal agriculture suddenly show valor toward students who might have some digestive issues, excuse me if I don’t swallow his soy-based bait hook, line and sinker.Milk is hands down the most nutritionally dense food that packs a big punch. If anything needs to change with the school lunch program it is to bring back full fat milk, both white and flavored so students can fill up on something that will not only help their brains develop fully, but keep hunger at bay, provide protein for recovery from a workout and give them something good to look forward to during an anxiety laden school day.School is not what it used to be, and families are struggling. Instead of taking good things away in the name of profit taking and skewed agendas, let’s add to their well-being in the name of decades of sound evidence. Water is a healthy alternative, but the best thing for our students is to let them drink, ice cold, creamy, whole milk.

Melissa is a farmwife, mom and freelance writer residing on a dairy farm in southern Michigan. She is available for speaking engagements by contacting her at farm.writer@hotmail.com. Visit her weblog at www.knolltopfarmwife.blogspot.com.