Letter: Dairy is not the enemy

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Editor of the Reformer,

The Hurleys mean well but their one-sided views and naivete are not helpful to Vermont and New Hampshire dairymen ("Dairy farmers should transition to milk crops," Letters to the Editor, June 4). Yes, the dairy industry must and will change, but not as dramatically as the overly simplistic methods proposed by the Hurleys.

The dramatic popularity of Greek-style yogurt, plus the recent resurgence of cottage cheese, and the steady growth of hard cheese signal what the consumer wants and needs. Eggs and dairy are the most effective and least costly foods for protein delivery.

Yes, the consumers will continue to experiment on what they perceive to be the healthiest or trendiest wetting agent for their dry granola, and the nutritionally inferior grain-based beverages may have a place in that world. Notice that hard-to-digest soy protein and non-dairy calcium must be added to the almond, soy and now oat "milks," in a vegetarian or vegan attempt to copy the nutritious benefits of cow and goat milk.

Vermont and New Hampshire do not have the terrain, soil nutrient levels and climate conditions to effectively grow the bean crops touted by the Hurleys. Yes, hemp will grow most anywhere, but marijuana is an imperfect elixir. Actually alfalfa production gives farmers partial diversity, but the Hurleys aren't aware of this co-production alternative.

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Dangerous is the Hurley's simple-minded description of the cruelty of milk farmers, and inflammatory. My grandfather was a superb herdsman and he bred and raised a happy, contented and productive herd of 112 Holsteins in southern Vermont and got the highest yield out of his typically rocky and hilly acres. If he were alive and still a farmer today, he would have switched to Jerseys since they produce more protein per pound and Jersey lactose is very easy to digest (read about "A2" milk now available in stores.)

Dairy protein has nourished the world for thousands of years, and the production and storage of cheese and butter evens out the production cycles. Dairy is not the enemy and not the cause of ill health as strongly suggested by the Hurleys. As often said by my grandmother, "Do everything in moderation." Yes, try new foods and farming methods, "but don't throw out the baby with the bath water (or milk water!)"

Kenney W. Aldrich

Buxton, Maine, June 4

Aldrich is a former third-generation owner of Idlenot Dairy in Springfield, Vt.


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