Got the Facts on Milk?
A Film Written and Directed by Shira Lane
Unleashed Productions and Leto Entertainment, LLC, 2010
Available from Amazon
Shira decided to attack the Sacred Cow of dairy by throwing herself into a cross-country odyssey to discover what Americans understand about milk and how the monolithic dairy industry through its monumental advertising campaigns has shaped people's positive attitudes toward milk products.
The film chronicles her road trip from LA LA Land (Hollywood) across the U.S. to Washington, D.C. to pose nutrition questions to the USDA about milk. In the course of her journey, she interviews people on the street asking what they know about milk. The answers she receives mirror the advertising campaigns of the dairy industry. On camera, people tell her, "Milk does a body good" and "Milk is Calci Yummy." Many people interviewed announce that if television says milk is healthy, the statement must be true.
In trying to avoid dairy products on their journey, the film crew learns that restaurants can't be trusted to eliminate dairy products in the food they serve. A poached egg, for example, contained butter to keep it from sticking to the pan. Interspersed with scenes of the colorful journey were cuts to interviews of doctors, scientists, and nutritionists who presented their views on dairy products that were contrary to the information provided to the public by the National Dairy Council.
Most disheartening is the visit to the Navaho reservation where they learn young people are forced to drink milk despite the fact that it causes stomach distress. The federal food assistance program for the Navahos is a dumping ground for milk and cheese along with sugary, high fat foods. As part of the federal school lunch program schools must provide a dairy option to all students.
Dr. John McDougall calls milk "liquid meat" and recommends that people give up this food group entirely. Dr. Joel Fuhrman questions why heart patients in hospitals are served foods containing butter and cheese. "The biggest contributor to heart disease is dairy products," Fuhrman tells viewers. Both doctors join Professor T. Colin Campbell, nutrition researcher, in advising people to wean themselves off dairy products that cause so many chronic health problems. Through his research Campbell has shown that milk protein causes cancer. Dr. Neal Barnard emphasizes that the public does not receive any negative information about foods containing dairy.
Shira and her friends make a light-hearted visit to a market as they dance and roll shopping carts around the aisles gathering foods that contain milk derivatives. Like cheerleaders they sport more than a dozen large signs with the derivative names. They reached this conclusion: "Seventy-five percent of the foods we looked at contained some form of dairy derivative."
To balance the claims that milk will create strong bones and teeth, help you lose weight, build your muscles, make you grow taller, and stop your cramps, the film presents a litany of medical problems associated with dairy products: breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, arthritis, asthma, acne, and osteoporosis.
GTFO Milk? does focus on issues like the environmental pollution and treatment of animals in dairy farming, as well as the use of antibiotics and hormones. "Burp, Fart, and Poop" by cows have resulted in twice the amount of methane in the air than existed 100 years ago. Viewers may be alarmed to learn that a glass of milk contains 180 million pus cells derived from over-milked cows that usually suffer from mastitis.
In making this film, Shira did attempt to present the views of dairy industry officials who declined her offer. She did interview dietitian Isabel Maples, RS, who is a spokesperson for the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association. Maples' ludicrous answers to the questions have to be seen to be believed.
When Shira's team finally reached Washington, their efforts to find someone in the USDA to answer their questions were futile. This segment clearly demonstrates the difficulty ordinary citizens face in communicating with a branch of the federal government. She should have asked Dr. Fuhrman about the source of Vitamin D in milk before trying to elicit an answer from the USDA. Incidentally, the doctor's answer appears at the end of the film.
In her people-in-the-street interviews the filmmaker asks what happens when one person says the earth is round and everyone else says it's flat. In this film she is the person shouting the world is round by revealing the dangers of dairy products. Unfortunately, Shira is up against flat-earth folks who can't be confused by scientific facts and believe what they have been told for many years. Despite the seriousness of the material, she has created a real moving picture, a clever, entertaining, and attractive film filled with original music--all this in 88 minutes.
This filmmaker could not have accomplished this labor of love without the many backers who wanted to see it made. According to Kickstarter, "the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world," 1,201 backers contributed $54,743 to making Got the Facts on Milk? and exceeded the fund raising goal of $25,000.
Shira Lane is to be commended for spending more than three years of her life and overcoming numerous obstacles to produce this groundbreaking film that spotlights the negatives of milk consumption. If enough people see Got the Facts on Milk?, they will realize that they have been duped by a blizzard of advertising to promote a product that leads to sickness and even death. Hopefully, media efforts like this one will persuade people to take action to change their own diets as well as oppose government policies that promote dairy products.
The research in the film is solid. The message is true. Change must come. There are no Sacred Cows.