Homogenized milk: the devil?
The natural homogenization of goat milk is, from a human health standpoint, much better than the mechanically homogenized cow milk product. It appears that when fat globules are forcibly broken up by mechanical means, it allows an enzyme associated with milk fat, known as xanthine oxidase, to become free and penetrate the intestinal wall. Once xanthine oxidase gets through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream, it is capable of creating scar damage to the heart and arteries, which in turn may stimulate the body to release cholesterol into the blood in an attempt to lay a protective fatty material on the scarred areas. This can lead to arteriosclerosis. It should be noted that this effect is not a problem with natural (unhomogenized) cow milk. In unhomogenized milk this enzyme is normally excreted from the body without much absorption.
--excerpted from “Goat Milk versus Cow Milk,” by G. F. W. Haenlein and R. Caccese, University of Delaware, Newark, in the Extension Goat Handbook, fact sheet E-1, 1984.
The source for this rather astonishing claim is old; but it comes not from some blissed-out health guru peddling a product, but rather from an ag-extension scientist at a respected university.
It bears out what I consider a key theme: that the problem in the American diet isn't the amount of fat people consume, as the mainstream health authorities typically claim, but the quality of fat. In the popular imagination, the linguistic identity between fat as food and fat as excess body weight has caused great confusion--which could be cleared up by watching, say, rail-thin Italians enjoy copious quantities of virgin olive oil.
Has the case against homogenized milk been thoroughly tested and debunked? If not, why is virtually all the milk on supermarket shelves, including most organic milk, homogenized?
It's tempting to reply that the FDA surely wouldn't allow a practice known to be health-ruining to rise to the level of industry standard in a food as widely consumed as milk. But remember, the agency allowed itself to be cowed for decades by industrial food interests bent on using partially hydrogenated oil as a cheap and ubiquitous cooking fat.
I found the above quote in an excellent newsletter called Creamline, which is geared to small- and micro-scale dairy producers.
I'll be writing more about small-scale dairy in the days to come, because the second to last dairy in our county just announced it's shutting down--squeezed out by the impossible economics of conventional dairy farming.