What about dairy?

Dairy is one of the most misunderstood foods on this whole darn planet.

While giving up modern, conventional dairy is an amazing way to see immediate improvement in weight problems, insulin resistance and even skin issues, there are many folks who do incredibly well with certain types of dairy.

(That’s why many of our recipes allow grass-fed dairy products as a substitute for other dairy-free ingredients.)

Certain types of dairy have a long history in the human diet, and some of ‘em actually contain more nutrients calorie-for-calorie than almost any other food. But MODERN dairy barely resembles the nutrient-rich dairy that people ate (and drank) for hundreds – even thousands – of years before factory-farmed, skimmed, pasteurized, homogenized, highly processed milk hit the market.

In the end, every person has to discover what works best for them. “Detoxing” from modern dairy – in effect, taking a total dairy hiatus to see how y’do without it – is a great way to figure out how the better stuff – the stuff that actually contains some nutrition – might affect your body.

To explain a bit more about the “Dairy controversy,” and why we’re a-ok with “the good stuff” here at Good Food for Bad Cooks (READ: fat-soluble vitamins, baby!) check out this excerpt from Liz’s book, Eat the Yolks!

“High-fat dairy products like butter, clarified butter, and ghee from animals raised in their natural environments with their natural diets are incredibly stable, concentrated sources of fat-soluble vitamins. They’ve been highly prized for centuries by healthy cultures around the world, and science backs up this ancestral wisdom: An Australian study found that higher dairy fat consumption resulted in a 69 percent lower risk for cardiovascular death. Those who ate no dairy or exclusively low-fat dairy were three times more likely to die from heart disease or stroke….

 

…But keep in mind that this ancient dairy bore absolutely no resemblance to the mass-produced, low-fat, ultra-processed garbage that’s a staple in most of our modern-day diets (poured over processed grain, most likely). Today’s industrial dairy production practices damage and strip a food that was once nutritious and turn it into an allergenic, industrialized disaster: Homogenization can oxidize and damage dairy fat; skimming removes fat-soluble vitamins A and D; and biologically inappropriate animal feed creates dairy that’s fundamentally nutritionally unsound in the first place. Pasteurization actually destroys the beneficial microbes and enzymes in dairy, and it was first adopted not because the unpasteurized stuff was inherently dangerous but because in the early 1800s dairy cows were, for the first time, being kept in “distillery dairies” and fed the by-product of liquor production in what was called the “slop milk industry.” Those distillery by-products made cows so sick that they produced equally unhealthy milk, giving all dairy, and nearly nine thousand years of dairy history, a bad name. At its best, dairy is a perfectly nutritious food with a long history in the human diet. At its worst, it’s an industrial tragedy. …

 

… This [factory-farmed dairy] industry’s practices strip milk of its nutritional value not just by keeping dairy cows in pens and giving them inappropriate feed but also through pasteurization, which destroys the usability of natural vitamin D, and skimming, which removes the fat and, with it, any naturally occurring vitamin A. For this reason, the conventional dairy industry “enriches” or “fortifies” their product with often-synthetic vitamins—that’s what “vitamin D milk” actually is. The government and most nutrition professionals recommend fortified milk because they know that without fortification, they’d be recommend- ing a product totally devoid of nutrition….

 

… The only sources of true vitamin A are creature foods, such as egg yolks, full-fat unprocessed dairy, shellfish, liver, and cod liver oil. (Grow a pair. It’s good for you.) Unfortunately, these are the foods many folks won’t touch with a ten-foot carrot….

 

… Vitamin K2 is concentrated in high amounts in milk fat, in part because it’s so critical for the healthy growth and development of newborn mammals (including humans). One of the many reasons I absolutely love butter and ghee from grass-fed cows—aside from the fact that they’re delicious— is that they’re rich in the critical fat-soluble vitamins, and they’re two of our best sources of vitamin K2….”

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Choosing Dairy

Choose dairy that is full-fat and from 100% grass-fed or pastured cows, goats or sheep; local farms are a bonus! Ingredients labels should be nothin’ but the dairy itself and, in the case of yogurt and some cheeses, a “culture.”

Milk, cream, butter, ghee and yogurt should be full-fat, unpasteurized if you’re down with the raw milk (see RealMilk.com for info), unhomogenized, and, above all, from 100% grass-fed cows, goats or sheep.

Cheese should be full-fat, from grass-fed or pastured cows, with no anti-caking additives (check the label)! Good cheese should have just one or two ingredients: the dairy and a “culture.”

Did you know?

Orange cheese is generally colored with rennet or annatto, which are additives that make cheddar and “American” cheese all cheesy-looking. Truth is, milk isn’t orange – so cheese usually shouldn’t be either! White cheddar is just as good, only without those additives.

“American cheese” is not a thing. It’s not real cheese. It. Is. Not. Real. Cheese. Most cheeses in the cheese-n-dairy aisle are full of additives, preservatives and anti-caking agents. Avoid at all costs!

Rule of thumb: the good cheese does NOT come from the cheese-n-dairy aisle! Whether soft or hard, good cheese comes from local dairies (see EatWild.com) or behind that fancy cheese counter. Cheese “experts” behind the counter can tell you where a cheese came from and whether it’s from grass-fed cows (or goats, or sheep.)

Ice cream should have nothing but cream, egg and sugar on the label. And possibly chocolate, mint or strawberry. (Look. We know we’re gonna have some now and then. Just make it the GOOD stuff.)

Remember: dairy should be used as a garnish. Be careful, because it’s a slippery slope! If you become a total dairy monster – unable to enjoy eggs without cheddar, a burger without bleu, coffee without cream, or a salad without feta, check yourself!

Avoid like the plague

Everything else, from regular ol’ yogurt, “digestive health” yogurts, “fruit on the bottom” yogurts, skim milk, half-fat milk, vitamin D milk, fake non-dairy creamers, soy milk, dairy products with LOTS of junky ingredients, “American” cheese…