Milk. We all grew up on it. For years they told us to drink it to be healthy and strong. But is it really true? It shows that even this perfectly white foodstuff might not be as spotless…
Milk is a complex food with an incredible share of nutritious substances. The official statement of the French government recommends to consume a milk product three times a day. These recommendations are issued by institutions such as Pasteur’s Institute in Lille.
The makers of the German film Milk – Facts, Figures and Beliefs travelled around the whole of Europe on their milk quest. Their interviews with various people – producers, scientists, doctors or farmers – formed a picture where everything seems to be linked to everything. For instance: are recommendations issued by Pasteur’s Institute really that independent when it’s primary source of funding is the dairy industry? Has milk as we know it today – that is a product processed in almost thirty steps – anything to do with the liquid that leaves a cow’s udder? Is it normal that milk is cheaper than Coke?
Milk – Facts, Figures and Beliefs does not pass a final verdict on whether to drink milk or not, you have to decide for yourself. However, this 50-minute documentary will show you what you should think about before your purchase decision.
In previous years the LSFF screened investigatory films about debates, economic questions and controversies surrounding for example water, bananas, flour and toxins in food. What made you choose milk?
Milk is something almost all of us consume daily in very many different forms from drinking it pure or in our coffee, eating yoghurt and cheese as well as consuming it in industrially produced food – as milk powder. I realized that most people are not aware of this and if questioned would say: oh, no problem, its milk, its healthy. So, I wanted to know if milk is really healthy and if the so called lactose intolerance was a real “condition“ on the rise or just something the marketing departments thought up to sell healthier new products.
During your journey around Europe you visited many countries and producers. Is it possible to say that milk is better in some places, or does milk taste the same everywhere?
As producer you don’t really get to travel around with the team – unfortunately! But no, milk does not taste the same everywhere. The different taste probably comes from the way milk is processed (pasteurized and homogenized) in the different countries, the amount of fat we are accustomed to and that is added or taken away for full fat or skimmed milk. This is different in most countries. Just try it out when you travel.
But, if you drink raw fresh milk, its taste is very much same everywhere: it slightly smells like the animal it came from…not necessarily everybody’s favorite. But, it tastes really good!
Both sides of the fence – pro-milk and anti-milk – are at swords’ points, but we still feel that the film does reach a certain consensus that both sides agree on: you can consume milk products regularly, but in small amounts and it’s better to use the fermented kinds (yoghurts, cheeses). Did we get it right?
Yes, you did. And, I guess Paracelsus was right too: The right dose differentiates a poison and a remedy.
And what is your personal “milk moment”?
A rather serious one: somehow before the film I hadn’t realized that by regularly drinking milk I was part of the system responsible for the enormous masses of milk that are needed for all these consumers. This can only be done on an industrial scale. This is why industrial calves don’t get to drink cows milk, male calves are often killed and industrial cows are constantly pregnant to give milk permanently – for us. Consequently, they live to be around six years old – instead of twenty if they get to live a good cows life. If we want to have the values of good milk and good animal treatment back, we need to stop supporting this. I stopped drinking milk and use soy or rice milk instead – it tastes different but good enough.