Manuela Heider de Jahnsen is a medical therapist of the Traditional Chinese and Ayurveda Medicine. She is the author of the standard reference “Das große Handbuch der chinesischen Ernährungslehre“ (The Big Manual of Chinese Dietetics). Besides being a lecturer, she runs a surgery in Berlin, specialized in nutritional advice, yoga therapy and acupuncture. For us, she considers common health opinions. How good are self-prescribed cures really?
The land of milk and honey.Promises of pleasure and security, wealth and bliss, that’s how our forefathers imagined paradise.Nowadays milk is wasted because more and more cows are producing more and more of it. Milk is processed into milk powder and sent to the countries we get our cheap clothes from. And animal feed. Cows consume oxygen and exhale massive amounts of CO2, belching us a step further into climate change.
There are so many reasons not to drink milk.But viewed from the perspective of holistic medicine, there are also reasons to enjoy it!
Enjoying things in small amounts, appreciating them, is a basic inclination of the heart. In Ayurveda, milk speaks to these benefits, and along with honey and fruit is a sattvic, peaceful staple in the diet of India’s holy men.Rushing around drinking a to-go latte with non-perishable milk doesn’t come close to that! Food is a way of knowing, a path to yourself in the interconnections of life and in our networked world. It’s also always a reflection of globalization, splurging, voluntary sacrifice, ideologies, ideologues, science and origin, truth and poetry.
Milk, like no other food, is rooted in us deeply, emotionally.
Milk is the first thing we want once we’ve come into the world.
Milk allows us to be a child again.
Milk shapes us, it gives us so much energy that we are able make our first discoveries with it as our only food.
With our first teeth comes our weaning from milk. Weaning from mother’s milk, that is. In this part of the world there’s the milk of another mother: the cow. But: Am I a calf?
Recommended as a daily health remedy, milk is also recommended as rasayana in Ayurveda, a rejuvenating, strengthening agent for the young, the old and the weak. But Ayurveda places value on the origin of milk, its processing, freshness and the amount: 200 ml per day promote good health! Frothed up with spices and drunk as a health tonic.At 200 ml a day it’s unrealistic to expect that we see our new mother in the cow and become like her.
What amazes me is how close Ayurveda is to the most cutting-edge studies that recommend drinking 200 ml a day to prevent cancer. Allergists, too, approve this amount as a maximum daily dose.And yet, how far from the reality of most:Even if no one drinks just milk anymore the consumption of milk products has been incessantly increasing since 1950.
Cheese production requires up to 20 L of milk. That means 100 g of cheese are accounted for as 2 L of milk. All of the by-products of milk production are added to other foods: whey, lactose, milk protein are actually incorporated into milk-free food products such as sausages and cookies. Considering our tender connection to milk as our food as toothless toddlers to our consumption of industrial milk, there is a certain a fall from a paradisal state at play here. The land of milk and honey looks more like a gray zone managed by interests.
A cow needs 8 L a day for her calf. If she has to feed us, too, so we can make a cheese sandwich at night instead of cooking for ourselves, she has to produce up to 7,000 L per year. Without feeding her calf. Normally a cow grazes slowly, cud-chewing and digesting her way through the meadow, whereas dairy farming requires most cows to lie in stalls tethered to poles. This affects the milk’s quality and thus our health. It seems, as the nursling is bound to her mother, as if we were fatefully connected to the cow as our new mother, though she’s caught up with devil. Should we change these conditions and enjoy the peace that ensues, then we shall raise a glass, a glass of milk!