The Legend of Goat Milk as “The Most Complete Food Known”

The Urban (Rural?) Legend of Goat Milk “The Most Complete Food Known”

Gianaclis Caldwell

Okay, just Google it. “Goat milk complete food”. You will find the venerable Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) quoted repeatedly (I counted 14 different citations on the first two pages of searching) in such turns of phrase as “as the Journal of American Medicine states, goat milk is the most complete food known” or “according to the Journal of American Medicine, goat milk is the most complete food known”. Hey, maybe you even have this quote on your website or in your brochures, if you are a goat milk producer and fan like I am.

Even a recent issue of a beloved dairy goat magazine devoted an entire article to the topic (reprinted from a natural news type website) and citing the JAMA with the same quote.  While I am all for promoting goat milk as a fabulous food, I instantly become skeptical when hearing a prestigious source quoted without also being properly attributed.

So I went to the JAMA website and did a search of their article archive. The only reference I found was a letter to the editor in Volume 120, # 4 published in September of 1942 that asked if the following quote (which the reader read in another publication) were true: “The Journal of American Medical Society states that goat milk is the purest, most healthful, and most complete food known.” The editor responds that no such statement could be found in the JAMA. That was over 50 years ago, people.  If anyone has found an attributable JAMA source for this quote, then please share it and set me straight!

Is there really such a thing as a “complete food”? If you Google that term, you will come up with a lot of claims that bee pollen and hemp seed are the most complete foods known. (Not surprisingly, the JAMA is quiet on the subject)  Even if true, just think how many bees would have to work overtime to provide enough pollen to sustain one 150 pound person or the number of hemp plants you would have to grow (although some people might think that would be just groovy)  What I am trying to say is that this obsession with the “perfect, most complete food” is kind of silly.  We are meant to eat a variety of foods- the fresher and less processed the better. The focus should be on “the most complete diet known to man”.

If you are interested in comparing (a bit more objectively, perhaps) cow, goat and human milk, then I recommend going to http://drinc.ucdavis.edu/goat1.htm  and reading “Dairy Goat Milk Composition”.  After reading it, you will likely conclude that most milk types offer a lot of nutrition, but none are perfect. And don’t forget that HOW milk is processed and treated after it is removed from the mother (be she cow, doe, ewe, or woman) has a huge effect on the retention of vitamins and minerals, the loss of enzymes, and the alteration of proteins and fats. There is a saying that I love to repeat (but I don’t know the source) that “milk was never meant to see the light of day”. In other words, milk is at its best when going straight from teat to tummy. (That is my quote and you can use it if you like)

So get out to the barn; milk your goats (who I think are the most completely wonderful animals known); drink their delicious milk; appreciate the gift that they, as beasts, and their milk are; and then double check your quotes and what you repeat.  And after all, since when do we really need the American Medical Association and their Journal to validate our own good taste?

July 10, 2011

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