Thursday, 2 December 2010

The White Stuff

My craving for the white stuff began from a tender age. 3 months old, lips prematurely clamped to the bottle noisily devouring the creamy content within. The other white stuff currently blanketing the UK and holding us all hostage bears no comparison. This was liquid goodness, otherwise known as milk.

This was however only the beginning of an addiction that eventually became harder to tame. The bottle prised from my vice-like grip, (the dummy was not so easy to relinquish!), play school became my new looked-forward-to feeding ground with its daily bottle of milk and straw. Bedtime was another boon - almost picture perfect to behold. A little girl in a nightdress trying to imitate her father with a glass of milk in one hand and a couple of McVities plain chocolate digestives in the other. My milk addiction followed me everywhere or maybe I followed it – a modern equivalent to the pied piper with a large milk bottle at the head of the queue. Milk was the river of choice to quench my thirst – milk on its own or with and in everything. Flavoured milk, hot chocolate, sweet milky tea, and liberally poured over Coco Pops to turn the milk chocolaty. Any product made from or with milk became an obsession, not to be sated. This included cheese. I loved my cheddar - it was perfection with everything, in sandwiches, on toast, with crackers, on pasta... A dairy and sugar fiend always craving more - it must have been like living with Jekyll and Hyde.

This was the slippery slope to intolerance and discipline, accompanied by the harsh realities of dairy farming. Lactose and yeast intolerant after years of dairy abuse, my vegetarianism was pushed to new boundaries and not through choice. Forced to seek out alternatives for the sake of my health and consider my diet from a different perspective, it was at first a bitter pill to swallow. With persistence and a diet more varied than before, I came out the other side transformed by the lonely experience. It would be hypocritical of me to paint milk as the enemy, but past weaning our need is unnatural. Breast is best so we're told – liquid to nurture the young, not those all grown up, and certainly not from another mammal. Are we too late in realising the folly of our ways? Intolerance increases, but compulsion to drink the good stuff does not decline, despite the many tasty alternatives.

Make Mine Milk”, the latest campaign expounds milk as a great source of calcium – the soft drink found only in nature. A mythical virtue, which unpaid experts fail to discredit. True, milk is a source, but there are others far richer and better for you. What of these? They hushed up by the industry in a bid to protect sales and condone cruel practices. A precious liquid commodity for calves, but one which we continue to exploit for ourselves. Yes, make mine milk, but only if it's as nature intended: dairy-free.