Sounder SIGN UP FOR FREE
Hear UR
Hear UR

Season 4, Episode 1 · 5 months ago

Episode 401 - Why Milk?

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Why did we start drinking milk? The dairy industry created a prominent supply and demand for milk in our society, but it wasn’t always this way. Before modern milk health regulations, milk was not a common drink, and it was often rampant with disease and caused frequent health issues and infant deaths. The city of Rochester wasn’t immune to the diseases dirty milk caused. Health officials here in Monroe County played an important role in the efforts to industrialize milk. However, their intentions might not have been for the greater good of public health.

This is a story of a need, a city's need, for an essential food, milk. The story of milk began tragically in the late nineteenth century and Rochester, New York, infants were dying at alarming rates. Public health officials in the city were prieves at first for their efforts to save children. May God bless you. I've lost three children with the summer complaint and I think the milk in the book at my fourth baby. But making milk accessible and safe soon became about more than just improving public health. This is here you are, Rochester retold episode one. Why Milk? I'm P CASS and bag and I'm Holly Roland and we're here to talk about the milk commission and its role in the safety of milk consumption and Rochester New York. To understand the milk question, we have to explain what milk was like around the country over a century ago. The milk that people were buying was very dangerous. That was very little in the way of fresh milk consumption unless you live within very close proximity of a cow and people who lived on the farm, and of course there were many more, much larger percentage of people lived on farms in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It was only into around the the nineteenten s and twenties that it became even half and half rural and urban. That is Melanie Dupui, and Environmental Studies and science professor at Pace University and the author of the book nature's perfect food. How milk became America's drink as people started moving into cities. Many reformers wanted to cleanse society from the dirty urban decline. This came in the way of trying to perfect humans in every way possible. Milk dealers were quick to seize this opportunity to claim milk as the perfect food. They present this milk as this lovely country milk that they're bringing in from the beautiful countryside, according to a milk inspector and late...

...nineteen century, and they one open a milk can, would be welcomed by, quote, a sickly offensive odor. We ought as well call the odor putrid meat. The milk is not sour. It has a slimy alkaline taste. PUTIFICATION has commenced in it. It is putrid and poisonous. Milk is brought to the city for sale during hot weather, confined and closed cans and exposed to Noonday Suns reeking hot with animal heat not removed. Yet it is used under the mistaken notion that because it is not sour it is not unwholesome, and quote. This patred milk was caused by farmers milking sickly cows and dirty barns and transporting them slowly and without icing. harmerful disease carrying bacteria was introduced in almost every step of the milk making process. In the beginning of milk consumption. To make matters worse, a common method of buying milk for the lower class was dipped milk from a local Rochester store. Or this is described in an article written by John Rawlston Williams, the Secretary Milk Commissioner of the Medical Society of the county of Monroe. The storekeeper took from a convenient show but dirty onwash bottle which beyond all doubt have been returned by some previous customer who had neglected to clean it. After giving it a hasty rinsing in cold tap water, he proceeded to fill it from the open can and doing this a considerable amount of milk streamed down over the side of the bottle and back into the CAN. This kind of behavior was very common because it was cheap. Anyone in the milk business wasn't going to use cleaner practices without being forced to. To make matters worse, at this time in history, the role of middle class women in society was also in flux. This caused a lot of uncertainty about what was best for infants. The people who started drinking milk were babies. There were always missitive for medical reasons, people who could not, women who could not breastfeed their children. There began to be a demand for cow's milk to feed infants. Husbands didn't want them breastfeeding. Corsets...

...made it hard to be able to breastfeed and, you know, a certain amount of a modesty about breastfeeding and so on during the Victorian era, when there was a lot of concern about a modesty right. So they had to work on their homes, they had to go to other places, they were very busy. They often did not have the kind of time to actually span breastfeeding their children. Also, in this idealized society, women were thought of as unable to meet the physical demands of breastfeeding. As early as the s the Nestly Corporation has been advertising their milk to mothers as a substitute for breast milk, and today the corporation is infamous for their unsustainable practices. As families started moving more into cities, though, women lost the sense of community and support that they had in the countryside. They no longer had all their generations teaching them had a breastfeed and what to do if it goes wrong, so using cow's milk just became the best alternative. Infants experienced a lot of issues in late nineteenth century, and it was especially bad in the summer months. Around Rochester, parents and doctors called most infant distress summer complaints. This consisted of digestive and bowel problems in diarrhea. It wasn't clear right away what the source of this distress was, though. It was a gamble if your children would live past infancy. In Rochester, over half of the total deaths were children under five. This rate of infant mortality did not go unnoticed either. One of the first major people to intervene was George Golder, the director of the Board of Health in Rochester in the late nineteen century, he gathered data on how many children were dying and determined bad milk was a major cause. Because of this, he attempted to educate women on how to take care of their babies, especially in hot weather, his main point usually being to avoid feeding children cow's milk. Interestingly, mother still chose to give their babies cow's...

...milk anyway. Because of this, going became one of the first in the country to advocate for milk stations in a major city. These stations would only sell clean, pasteurized milk. In one thousand eight hundred and ninety seven, he pioneered the first milk station in Monroe County, which was positioned in a vacant store. There, the nurse or nurse's assistant would dilute and sweeten the milk before bottling it. Later that summer he opened another station at a local police precinct. Both stations ran for the duration of the summer. This was a huge success for public health officials at the time. Mothers could buy clean milk at an affordable price. At this point, health officials like goal or knew they needed to create some sort of certified milk to ensure that the people of Rochester were safe. With the acceptance of germ theory, they figured out that cow's milk was a carrier for bovine tuberculosis, which infants are especially susceptible to. After this was more understood, they needed a way to remove the bacteria from milk before allowing people to drink it. At first, people were fine with simply testing cows for tuberculosis as a way to eliminate that from spreading to humans. Eventually, bacteria score cards were created in Rochester to great samples of milk from different farms. However, testing cows for tuberculosis and milk for bacteria wasn't preventing milk from causing disease and infant death. It was realized that the journey from farm to table was proving to be dangerous. This is when pasturization became important for milk and its consumers. However, not many farmers had the ability to pay for pasteurization. Some people even argued against it because it made milk less natural pasteurization process, in which the milk has passed in a continuous flow through a series of stainless steel plates heated to one hundred and sixty one degrees for a total of only fifteen seconds. is rapid heating assures absolute purity without changing or affecting the paper of the milk. That is Bob Considine,...

...an American journalist, speaking in the promotional film the New Story of Milk. This new certified milk was too expensive for a good portion of families at the time. Many mothers would go looking for uncertified milk that was much cheaper. This undermined a lot of the progress golder was trying to make. However, in order for farmers to make any money off of pasteurized milk, they had to raise the prices. How did Goler managed to provide pasteurized milk and his milk stations? Then? At the start, Goler worked with a farm and set up a temporary milk room. A nurse would be stationed there and was in charge of treating the milk and bottling it using sanitized equipment. The milk would be placed on ice and then brought to the city for sale. This idyllic situation wasn't the truth for many farmers. At first, though, before milk started becoming certified, Barnes were not kept sanitary and milking utensils were rarely cleaned. Here's a letter to a farmer with a description of his barn near Rochester, as inspected by a local health official. Dear sir, an inspection of your cow stables and surroundings shows that you were violating ordinances of the health board and keeping cows that are for the most part, confined in stables and keeping four cows upon a lot when you have room for about one cow in keeping your milk cans in their covers dirty, providing insufficient stable room and ventilation for your cattle and maintaining an open manure pit. You will be required to comply with the provisions of these ordinances in ten days from the date of this notice, or you turn, will be directed to proceed against you. Yours respectfully, health officer. This type of letter was very common for farmers to receive as they were trying to sell milk in the city. Before pasturization was widespread and controlled by bigger entities. Keeping the cows in barns clean was one of the best methods of preventing the spread of disease. In order to regulate barns to be kept clean and neat, Rochester formed one of the first milk commissions in the country, commission inspectors would go to farms with a grating sheet. They would survey what the buildings were made of, the layout of the area cows were kept, how sewage was disposed of and let the cows were fed. For the farms that had a milk rooms to bottle it up,...

...the inspectors would go through those areas as well. They would make sure that milkmen were wearing clean white clothing and using properly sanitized equipment. If a farm received a high enough score, their milk would become certified and legal to sell in the city of Rochester. These roles took years to perfect and actually follow. However, it still seems as though these strict regulations were only required for the few farms the milk commission seemed to favor. At this point, Goler had removed himself from the Certified Milk Movement. He wrote many letters to John Ralston Williams, the Milk Commissioner we referenced earlier, one from one thousand, nine hundred and eleven reads. I visit a number of milk farms recently where the conditions were dirty in the extreme. One case so dirty the man put from mal the hygeen his milk. A dozen dirty milkmen are selling milk without a license and have been doing so for several years. One of the particular friends protected by the commission has been found selling milk at sixty degrees, all because you seek to sell a few hundred quarts of certified milk to a few people. And the rest of the people in Rochester are buying milk from cows, many of whom are tuberculous, from stables many of which are dirty. Your sorrowfully, Geou Goler, the man who was acclaimed for saving thousands of babies due to his milk stations, was years later accusing the milk commission of turning a blind eye to many illegal milk dealers in the city. Goler's efforts at the turn of the century were based on improving the public's health in a variety of ways. The milk commission followed and Goler's footsteps at first. So why, a decade later, was goler disappointed in their efforts? Wouldn't the milk commission also be aiming to promote public health? The Milk Commission definitely buttress goolers efforts. They hired the people to inspect farms and grant certifications to sell clean milk. pasteurizing milk and keeping clean barns wasn't cheap, though. This in turn slowly weeded out smaller farmers. While this kept more citizens safe because contaminated milk was less likely to get to the market, it also started to commercialize the milk market in Rochester. Many around the country looked at it...

...in this way, since they declared milk as a perfect food meant to be consumed by all. The cities and farmers had to take all necessary action to deliver it to tables. This meant monopolizing the growing industry. The Milk Commission here in Rochester shared the same opinion, specifically John Ralston Williams. In a letter he wrote in nineteen thirteen. He said most American cities are in the hands of a large number of small dealers. The resulting division of energy, unnecessary duplication of equipment, the overlapping of roots, the waste of labor, et Cetera, means in most communities tremendous investment in inferior and inadequate equipment. The efficient handling of milk in the city by few central plants instead of many small milk rooms and horse tables and the elimination from the business of hordes of untrained, inefficient small dealers could not help but work for the benefit of the community. The elimination of many small farms contributed to an almost harmful separation between farm and table. As the public started knowing less and less about the production of their milk, the easier it was for them to start drinking it without a second thought. As the milk industry expanded, to make the most money possible, they pressured families to consume quarts of milk a day. This was advertised as a way of becoming the most perfect humans we can be. The idea of perfecting ourselves through consuming milk became and remained popular for decades. To promote milk as much as possible, the United States Department of Agriculture began promoting the consumption of milk in public schools in one thousand nine hundred and nineteen. Their campaign involved weighing infants before and after they were put on a diet of cow's milk, giving the fattest baby the winning prize. Elementary school children were instructed by their teachers to drink milk for necessary vitamins they were missing from other parts of their diet. For over a century, this information misled the American public and reinforce the notion that milk was the perfect food. Later on, got milk commercials convinced the general public that milk was still necessary. What do...

...you find running supply of milk and chocolate? Milk strong bones. The calcium and milk helps make your bones strong. We were all told that drinking milk would make us big and strong, but now we're finally starting to realize that that isn't the case anymore. The increase in milk regulations and government inspections did say thousands of children in a time when infant death due to food board illness and malnutrition was common. The work of George Gooler and of health inspectors in a late nineteenth and early twenty centuries was heroic. However, this is where the milk industry, in any milk commissions around the country should have stopped. But as pasteurization became the USDA standard and as industrialization delocalize the distribution of farm products, health inspectors begin representing the interests of large corporations rather than those of small farmers. Here is Melanie dupui again. There's so much milk out there that of course the dairy companies are going well, we don't need these little farms around here in New York. To and you have a truck and you have to get the milk from twelve or ten fifty kyle farms. It's a lot simpler for the dairy company, a lot cheaper to get one truck to go to one five thousand cow fire. So it's very hard for those fifty cow farms to compete against the five thousand POW farm, in part because the processor want doesn't really want to have to go and take up your fifty cows worth of milk every day. We began as a logistical complication, has since shaped the modern distribution of milk, prioritizing factory farms run by large corporations, which produce an excess of dairy and contribute to their release of methane and to the atmosphere. But still this industry continues to persist to this day. We can bring to light that modern campaigns like got milk are ultimately promoting corporations within humane or unsustainable practices that contribute to climate change. As urbanization, industrialization has...

...changed the way Americans get their food. The production of dairy has only become more excessive and wasteful, and so there's a huge these huge, large scale dairries are being set up in Arizona. And what are they making? Well, they're that they don't have access to the fluid milk market, but they make so much milk that they can manage to make a profit by putting it into cheese. Where do you put all of that surplus milk? Well, a lot of it goes into pizza cheese. So if you look at a pizza nowadays, there's way less tomato sauce and a lot more cheese and they and now we have pizza with it's stuffed with cheese in the crust. Right, we're going to convince the fast food industry to just put more cheese in there everything. I think that what's going to happen is that these large scale dairy farms in Arizona are going to run out of water. Almond farmers are are cutting down their trees because they can't water them. Well, almond milk replace dairy milk? Probably not. The milk shed has been has been the longest local food system that we've ever had. What the role of milk is going to be in the food supply chains of the future is? I can tell you one thing, it's not going to be what it is now. Considering all these factors, have the potential to wreck havoc on our environment. Why do we still continue to drink cow's milk when it's nutritional benefits are questionable at best? Has the appeal of milks apparent perfection really persisted into the twenty one century? With the growing popularity of more sustainable milk substitutes like soy and oat milk, it's almost certain that the way we consume milk will change even within the next ten years. The way we consume milk today, and, however we will continue to in the future, we shaped to a large extent by the public health initiatives that Rochester played an important role in. Perhaps the Rochester Department of Health and Goler's milk stations at the turn of the century serve...

...as a reminder that we should continue to question the safety and ethicality of what we consume. Here you are as a podcast created by students at the University of Rochester. This episode was produced by fee cast and bag, polly Rowland and Ellie Wasson. Our engineer was Ellie Watson. The music used on this episode was performed by Piano Movers and the cabinet maker. We'd also like to thank Melie de pui for her interview. This episode featured the voices of Ellie Watson, Nest Patti, Jacob Smith and Laura Novas at. Here you are is created using faders, a collaborative online audio production workstation. It offers browser based audio recording and editing, all within an easy to use interface, all for free. Go check it out at fader's ioh. The coordinating producer for this season of here you are is Celia cannot. The executive producers are Thomas Fleischman and Steven Restler, and be sure to check out the other episodes of here you are. Season Four, Rochester retold here you arecom.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (26)