Dairy and Racism

I recently came across an article in the McDougall Newsletter from March of 2007 entitled When Friends Ask: “Why Don’t You Drink Milk?” that I found pretty interesting (1). Mostly, I found it worth writing a sarcastic blog post about.

John McDougall is a medical doctor who recommends a mostly starch-based, low fat diet and in this article, he outlines some of the problems with dairy products from a health perspective. One of the things Johnny says in the article is that “recommending dairy is racist”. A surprising claim at first, he explains that “Non-whites commonly have a normal, natural “intolerance” to milk sugars, and such sugars consumed after the weaning-time cause them intestinal distress with flatulence, cramps and diarrhea.”

Thinking about, I have to agree. Recommending everyone drink milk will disadvantage a higher percentage of non-whites than whites, which is absolutely racist! Everyone knows that white people are better able to digest dairy. And doesn’t milk just seem like a white person drink?

I applaud Dr. McDougall, who I admit I frequently disagree with, for having the guts to point this out. He knows that when someone says “drink milk so you can have strong bones” what they’re really saying is “I want black people to have stomach aches because I’m a racist!” Frankly, I won’t stand for it anymore.

Still, this got me thinking; what other food recommendations are essentially discriminatory attacks in disguise? I did some research and here are a few things I came up with:

Peanuts:
I’m no fan of peanuts. Are they a nut? Are they a legume? Are they an endearing comic written by Charles Shulz? I don’t trust any food that tries to hide its identity behind smoke and mirrors, that’s the kind of food that has something to hide. Either way, peanut allergies are more common in African American children (2). I bet George Washington Carver never saw that one coming. Of course, the difference is small so I guess that makes recommending peanuts only a little bit racist.

Wheat:
Celiac disease is an inflammatory autoimmune disease caused by consumption of gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat. Celiac disease occurs more commonly in elderly people and in certain populations, especially people from Ireland (3)(4). Therefore, recommending that people eat whole grain wheat products is to practice agism and Hibernophobia (a.k.a. racism against the Irish–yeah, that’s really what it’s called).

Alcohol:
A lot of nutritionists will recommend people enjoy a drink or two with dinner if they want to. After all, isn’t drinking red wine why the French are the healthiest, coolest, sexiest culture in the entire world? Still, Native Americans, as well as some other ethnic groups, have a natural, normal intolerance to alcohol (5). This is due in part to a genetically determined deficiency of alcohol dehydrogenases (6). Therefore, not being cautionary when telling people of the benefits of a nice pinot noir is to risk the health and well being of Native Americans (7). Wasn’t the Trail of Tears bad enough, people?

These are just a few examples and I’m sure there are more, so do your own research and let me know if you come up with anything else. Nutrition is my field and I don’t appreciate people using it as a tool for racism.

References:
(1) http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2007nl/mar/dairy.htm
(2) http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/allergy-and-asthma/articles/2011/09/08/black-children-may-be-more-prone-to-peanut-allergy-study-finds
(3) http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-230X/9/49
(4) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1399-0039.1996.tb02525.x/abstract
(5) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1931291/
(6) http://alcalc.oxfordjournals.org/content/32/2/129.short
(7) http://www.indiana.edu/~rcapub/v17n3/p18.html

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