Dear Surly Amy,
I was peacefully buying groceries the other day when a man came up to me, stared into my cart, and then informed me that I shouldn’t be buying 2% milk because it was homogenized and that would burst my blood vessels. Â This man knew this because he had had a history of strokes, which he began narrating to me in tedious detail. Â As a skeptic dedicated to being able to counter ridiculous pseudo-scientific claims, my instinct, which I acted upon, was to flee to the aisle of feminine hygiene and count on his patriarchally instilled fear of anything menstrually related to keep him from following. Â Was there a better way to handle this?
~fucking homogenization, how does that work?
If homogenized milk was bursting blood vessels we would pretty much ALL BE DEAD by now. Think for a moment when this milk fear started. Within the last few years, correct? So why aren’t all the people in America dead? Think about the 1950’s, people! All that milk and bacon for breakfast should have wiped America clean off the freakin’ map!
And why pick on 2%? The full fat version is usually homogenized too.
Are you drinking 2% because you think you’re fat? Cuz your not. You could be drinking whole milk if you wanted to. (Thank you, Napoleon Dynamite.)
I think you handled the situation perfectly. In fact, the only thing that would have made it funnier is if you had opened a jar of chocolate milk, popped in a straw and and had started sipping it while slipping off to the tampon isle. Spontaneously combusting would have been funny too but that is a little difficult to pull off in the grocery store. Or ever.
The homogenization process is used to help keep milk mixed. Milk that is not homogenized will separate (like oil and water based substances do) and there will be a thick, creamy layer on top and a watery layer on the bottom. In earlier times, the thick, creamy top layer was used to judge the quality of the milk. The more fat the better in ye old days because sneaky milk producers were known to “skim off the top” and use the stolen fat to make butter and ice cream. Thus rendering American housewives completely useless! One could argue that homogenization has helped to mix things up with feminist movement. Suddenly ladies across the land realized that there was more to do than hoard fat and churn butter!
Back to homogenization: During or directly after the pasteurization process, milk is run through tiny tubes or nozzles at high pressure where the fat molecules in the milk are either broken down, reduced in size or stripped thus preventing the milk from separating into water and cream. That’s pretty much it.
Kind of ironic. I mean the guy thinks homogenized milk will burst your blood vessels when in actuality homogenized milk is just slimmed down and mixed-up regular milk. I would think the big intact un-homoginzed fat molecules would pack a bigger punch and be more likely to clog up the old arteries. But the fear-based, milk-scare is based on the idea that the tiny broken down fat molecules in homogenized milk are somehow different from other fat molecules and are rapidly seeping into your blood stream and destroying your arteries. I couldn’t find any legitimate studies to back this up.
A drawback to homogenized milk is that when the fat globules are broken down it can cause the milk to spoil quicker. There’s that. That is one of the reasons pasteurization and refrigeration are necessary. And the high pressure and heat of the homogenization process acts as a second pasteurization in most cases. Some people who are used to raw milk also notice a change in flavor after homogenization and homogenized milk is slightly more difficult to digest than raw milk. This is because some of the natural enzymes are stripped. It is usually whiter in color as well. But this will not give you a stroke or cause you to explode.
From what I could find on this topic, this seems to be just another version of the natural fallacy. There is a group of people who are afraid of any type of processing. This mindset has been perpetuated by alternative medicine and supplement pushers and not based on scientific evidence. It’s based on trying to sell you ‘natural’ alternative products.
Too much fat is bad for anyone. But mixed up milk won’t kill you. Watch your diet, get some exercise and enjoy a milkshake now and then.
The truth THEY don’t want you to know about homogenized milk is that, well, it’s mixed.
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