joanna blythman quote web

Our government’s failure to promote dairy is a menace to public health. The new version of the Eatwell (sic) plate is just the latest dangerous nonsense. We’re advised that no more than 8% of our calorie intake should come from dairy, almost half the 15% previously recommended.

How times change. During the Second World War, consumption of cheese alone was “rationed” to 10 ounces per person per week, an amount that would cause today’s government dieticians to hyperventilate. They’d probably also wonder how I managed to survive to my present age, brought up as I was on a mug of milk with every meal, and unrestricted amounts of cream, cheese and butter.

Of course, government diet advice is all about avoiding that infamous spawn of Satan known as saturated fat, so we’re told that our meagre milk allowance should be semi-skimmed or skimmed. But anyone who follows the science knows that the case against satfat has never stacked up. And for dairy fat in particular, a raft of research demonstrates that it has either a neutral or a protective effect when it comes to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and metabolic disorders. With its protein, essential fats, and rich array of micronutrients, dairy actually helps us maintain a healthy weight, strong muscles and healthy bones.

I’m also disturbed to see that ‘dairy alternatives’ now appear to enjoy equal status with dairy: a carton of ‘soya drink’ stands shoulder to shoulder with milk on the new Eatwell plate. But has anyone bothered to investigate the effects on human health of the hi-tech ingredients and additives in such products: the gums, emulsifiers, ‘texturisers’, flavourings, sugars and sweeteners?

And what consideration has been given to the environmental effects of swapping milk, an effortlessly nutritious food that we produce so well in this green, wet country, for factory concoctions made from soya grown on distant plantations?

Thank heavens the Dairy All-Party Parliamentary Group of MPs is pressing the government to launch a 3 a day initiative for dairy. Without some effort, dairy is at risk of disappearing entirely from the next Eatbadly - sorry, Eatwell - plate.

Joanna Blythman is a journalist and author of Swallow This