Amusingly, I see that silly and uninformed opinions still appear in the Collegian. In that regard, not much has changed over the decades since I was a K-State student. I would politely suggest that Ms. Mendenhall needs to take a little more instruction in food chemistry, human digestive physiology and basic human genetics. (From reading her column, I might get the idea that political science and philosophy majors are a little weak in these areas.)
The idea that something unique to humans makes it “unnatural” would mean that most human activity could be identified as “unnatural” – including writing opinion columns in student newspapers. I haven’t seen another species do that yet, so apparently it is unnatural too.
Humans do not need the calcium from milk to be “fully absorbed” to still benefit greatly from milk as a source of calcium. Also, milk contains the correct ratio of phosphorous and calcium to maximize bone absorption of both (something generally lacking in the other calcium sources she mentions). What is more, humans do not need the phosphatase from milk to still absorb the calcium. Ms. Mendenhall would almost seem to be suggesting that without this external source of phosphatase, the calcium just passes right through us.
What is more, Vitamin D fortifying of milk combined with its high quality source of protein now enables it to be a great combination of nutrients not readily found in other foods. Having been raised in 21st century America, Ms. Mendenhall may not be very familiar with nutritional diseases, such as rickets or kwashiorkor, which are still very prevalent in underdeveloped counties (many populated by people that are lactose intollerant).
Ear infections in young kids were very common long before the use of BGH in dairy cattle. It’s interesting that suddenly BGH is the cause. I wonder how that works? (kids in the 70s and 80s were constantly getting ear infections in anticipation of drinking BGH in the future?)
At some time in human past, populations of people found that milk offered a well needed supplement to their diet, and there arose in some populations those individuals that were able to continue to make lactase past the age of adolescence. (I think biologist call this adaptation — something that comes in very handy when food is a bit scarce.) That other populations of people did not develop this does not mean that they are better off now (think rickets and kwashiorkor).
Milk is also strictly monitored for blood cells and antibiotic levels. More so than certain imported vegetables are monitored for pesticides (just incase you think a veggy diet somehow makes you safe from all those nasty chemicals).
-Kevin Anderson, Ph.D.