By: Herbert M. Shelton
The food essential to healthy
development and growth of every
infant mammal, including human
infants, is produced for it in its own
The milk of each species differs
widely from that of every other, as we shall
show later, and each is especially fitted to
meet the needs of the young of that species. The infant continues, for some
time after birth to feed upon the substance of its mother.
We are prone to take it for granted that man began to feed cow's milk or the
milk of other animals to babies shortly after Adam and Eve were kicked out of
the Garden of Delight and that he has continued to do so ever since. We may
even imagine that the practice is universal. We could hardly make a worse
We know, for example, that few Chinese and Hindu mothers have cow's milk
or the milk of other animals for their babies. We know that the North and
South American Indians had no milk animals and their children received no
milk after they were weaned from their mother's breasts. In many other parts
of the world the same fact holds good.
It may come as a distinct surprise to most of my readers, that the early
American colonists made very little use of milk. The Pilgrims landed in
Plymouth in 1620. It was not until 1624 that the first cattle were brought over
by Gov. Winslow.
These increased rapidly and were added to by fresh shipments from England,
so that by 1632 no farmer was satisfied to do without a cow; and there was in
New England, not only a domestic, but an export demand for the West Indies,
which led to breeding for sale.
But the market was soon overstocked, and the price of cattle went down from
fifteen and twenty pounds to five pounds; and milk was a penny a quart.
This last statement about milk means very little for Albert S. Bolles, from
whose Industrial History of the United States the foregoing statement is taken,
tells us, on the next page, that cows were seldom milked at this period, being
raised principally for their hides, and secondly for meat, only very incidentally
So far as the record of history can show us, a man by the name of Underwood
is the first to have risked the experiment of feeding cow's milk to infants. This
was in the year 1793. This was before the invention of the rubber nipple and
we may well imagine what a fine time he had feeding this calf-food to a human
Prior to that memorable date--1793--if a mother died and left her child to be
nursed, this was done by another woman--a wet nurse and not by the cow.
Since then, the cow has not only become a foster mother of the American and
most of the European portions of the human race, but we have developed the
absurd notion that "a baby is never to be weaned."
It must have milk, not merely through the period of infancy, as nature
designed, but also throughout childhood, adolescence and adult life as well.
Milk is loudly proclaimed the one and only "perfect food" and from every
direction we are urged to drink milk. It is the "perfect food" for the infant, the
child, the athlete, the office worker, the invalid and for everyone.
There is a strong commercial influence back of all this hue and cry about the
magic virtues of milk. We need not take too seriously the mouthings of those
who are actuated by the profit motive.
Milk (cow's milk) is not the perfect food for either infant or adult. But we have
so endowed it with super-potentiality that we even insist on nursing mothers
also nursing. A quart a day, and even more, is sometimes prescribed for the
Milk, is not an "adult food" but is a temporary expediency in the life of the
young animal, lasting it until the time that it evolves teeth for independent
mastication and is able to secrete digestive juices of a quality and character to
enable it to digest the foods it will naturally live on for the remainder of its life.
Cow's milk is not only Not a perfect food for the human adult; it is not the best
food for the human infant. It is not even the best milk from the lower animals
It is wholly unnatural for cows to give the large quantities of milk, rich, in fat, as
our dairy cows do. By selective breeding and forced feeding, they are induced
to give large quantities of milk and to produce this far beyond the normal
nursing period for calves.
Indeed, many of these cows are never "dry" but continue to produce milk, that
is sold in the market, from one calf to the next, year after year. I have seen
cows milk for ten or more years, without once being dry, and having a calf a
year during this time.
This constitutes a drain on the cows, which makes it impossible for one of
them to be healthy. They are especially prone to tuberculosis and have their
lives greatly shortened. While almost all dairy cattle are tubercular, this
disease is extremely rare among the range cattle of the plains.
Added to the evils of excessive milk production, is the evil of overfeeding on a
one-sided and high protein diet. This tends to produce disease in the cow and
to greatly impair her milk also.
An excess of protein in the mother's diet impairs her milk for her baby, then
certainly an excess of protein in the diet of the cow, whose milk already
contains far more protein than that of a woman, is bad for the child.
An excess of fat is also bad for the infant. Our dairy herds have been so bred
and they are so fed that their milk contains a great excess of fat.
Dairymen and farmers produce milk to sell, and the more milk and butterfat a
cow produces the more profits there is in it for them. Farmers and dairymen
are not different to owners of coalmines or cotton mills--they are interested
only in increasing their profits.
They will produce only that kind of milk and those quantities of milk that brings
in the most money for them, regardless of its evil effect upon the users of the
Cows from which certified milk is produced are kept throughout the year in
sunless barns, are permitted a very limited amount of exercise and are fed
chiefly on dry food, being given little or no fresh green fodder.
This sickens the cow and assures the deterioration of her milk. Cows need
green grass, exercise, fresh air and sunshine. Dr. Hess, of Columbia
University, showed that milk from cows fed on pastures in the sunlight
maintains the health and growth of animals, whereas milk from cows
maintained out of the sun and fed on dry fodder will not.
The best of cow's milk can be obtained only from healthy, range-fed cows,
which get plenty of green foods, an abundance of sunshine and fresh air, and
are not tuberculin tested (poisoned) and are not stuffed on protein-rich foods
to over-stimulate milk production.
Dairy cows and particularly "certified" herds are now all tuberculin tested--that
is, poisoned and sickened. The tuberculin test is a fraud. It is not a reliable
test for tuberculosis, as every doctor well knows.
Give it to animals in large doses and they "promptly die with symptoms of an
intense intoxication" in "moderate doses, the animals display the symptoms of
a profound intoxication, but gradually recover, with a mild and chronic form of
Tuberculin is the putrescent resultant of decomposing beef broth containing
glycerine and is preserved with carbolic acid. It is not merely a poison, it is a
whole array of poisons.
The very best of cow's milk is poor enough as infant food, without making it
still worse by pasteurization. Pasteurizing milk leads to carelessness and
assures us dirty milk.
Milk also undergoes deterioration after it is milked and permitted to stand. Its
food value is markedly impaired by being frozen.
Present methods of producing and handling milk make it next to impossible to
procure good milk in the markets. These present methods are largely the
results of the work of physicians who urge us to use more milk.
Do not censure me too strongly, then, when I declare that the medical
profession is determined that there shall not be a healthy child in America and
that no child shall be permitted to have good food.
The word "protein" is a very indefinite term and it is known that the same
amount of protein and calories from different sources may have very different
Cow's milk possesses a different and inferior protein to that found in mother's
milk and, while well suited to the needs of the calf, is poorly fitted to the
nourishment of the infant.
Both the mineral content and the vitamin content of cow's milk, the milk most
commonly used in this country, vary greatly, perhaps more than those of any
other food product.
They vary with food and season. Milk may be almost entirely lacking in
vitamins. This is especially so in winter when green foods are lacking.
Certified milk produced by cows kept in sunless barns and fed on dry foods, is
very deficient in vitamins.
Malnutrition is common among certified herds. Milk also undergoes
considerable deterioration by being exposed to the air and from being chilled.
Biological tests have shown that cow's milk is poor, as compared to other
foods, in growth-completing (vitamin) B. The same is true of human milk.
Of course, the milk of a normal, well-nourished mother or cow possesses
enough of this vitamin to supply the needs of infant or calf, but when cow's
milk is diluted, in preparing it for the infant, this food quality is dangerously
Cow's milk forms a large, hard, tough curd that is difficult for the infant to
digest. Human milk forms small, soft flocculent masses, which are easy of
These different physical and chemical characteristics of the milk of the two
mothers are designed to meet the different requirements of the young of the
two species and the two milks are not, therefore, interchangeable.
It follows, logically, that the cow is not the best mother of the human infant and
when she adopted our children, she did them an injury.
Many investigators, among them Freise, Mattill and Conklin have reached the
conclusion that after a certain age has been attained, milk is unsuitable as the
sole source of protein.
Some of these investigators think that this is due to the fact that the milk
protein is not sufficiently concentrated. Berg says that their experiments do
not reveal any inadequacy in the composition of the milk protein, but that the
results they obtained are due to the modified requirements of the adult
organism in the matter of the mineral requirements.
Without determining which of these conclusions is the correct one, it is
obvious from the results of their experiments that milk is not a good food for
the non-suckling organism. After the normal nursing period has been passed,
milk may be profitably dropped from the child's diet.
There is everywhere a tendency to exaggerate the value and importance of
milk. All the virtues ascribed to milk, as a food for the infant and growing child,
belong properly to the milk of the healthy well-nourished mother and to no
Diseased and inadequately nourished mothers do not produce adequate
milks. Breastfed infants often develop rickets during the latter part of winter,
due to insufficient "vitamin C" in the mother's diet.
Milk from cows fed on a "vitamin D" deficient diet will neither prevent nor cure
nor allay the course of clinical rickets in infants.
Both breast-fed and bottle-fed infants on an exclusive milk diet may develop
It is apparent that milk possesses no exceptional factors of safety against
certain deficiency diseases. Infants have developed deficiency disease while
being nursed by mothers who were apparently well nourished.
On the other hand, the current manner of feeding dairy cattle and the present
methods of treating milk affect the vitamin C of milk. Straining, cooking,
pasteurizing and re-pasteurizing milk damage it in many ways.
So, also, does the freezing of milk. Oxygenation occurs in milk as it
stands--nature provided for milk to flow directly from the producer to the
consumer, without all the delay, preserving and tampering. Some types of
containers are said to render catalytic action a possibility.
Milk is poor in iodine and in iron. Anemia has resulted in animals restricted to
a diet of cow's milk. Infants are born with a rich store of reserve iron,
providing the mother's diet and tissues have been able to provide this.
Otherwise the infant may not possess a rich surplus of iron and the exclusive
milk diet may result in anemia. For these reasons, among others, I have for
years advocated supplementing both mother's milk and cow's milk with fruit
juices--not a few drops or a few teaspoonfuls a day; but large quantities of
juice to supply minerals, carbohydrates and "vitamins."
Fresh grape juice for iron and sugar, orange juice for "vitamin C" prune juice
for calcium and sugar, etc. All of these juices contain minerals.
Due to the failure of milk in the winter, I advocate having all babies born in the
early spring, so that their period of most rapid growth shall have been passed
before the milk failure sets in.
Here in the Southwest, where we are blessed with an abundance of fresh fruits
and green vegetables throughout the whole year, this control of birth is not
nearly so important as in the North, where most babies develop rickets. Here
in San Antonio and vicinity we have plenty of winter sunshine to supply
By: Herbert M. Shelton
Excerpted From: The Hygienic System 1975
Article: Cows Milk
Complete Book Free Online: The Hygienic System