Got milk? Few foods are as fraught with high-stakes political, economic, ethical and environmental considerations. We talked with Shira Lane, the writer, director, and producer of the new film Got the facts on Milk? to tell us what we need to know about this popular dairy product.
Here’s what Shira Lane has to say about her experience with dairy…
I’ve been terribly allergic to dairy since I was a child. After moving here to the States from Israel, my allergic reactions seemed to constantly reoccur. I hadn’t realized how prevalent milk and dairy by-products are in American foods, and didn’t know the numerous scientific names for dairy ingredients. I learned that I couldn’t eat 70 to 85 percent of most packaged foods found in American grocery stores, nor could I eat safely in most restaurants. I also began to notice the quantity of ads put out by the dairy industry and the methods they use to sell their products, including their campaigns in American schools.
Shira Lane on dairy and health issues
While researching the subject in medical journals, I read study after study linking dairy to cancer, osteoporosis, asthma, acne, hormonal problems, early menstruation, and more. My passion intensified as I read about the devastating effect of dairies on the environment; the dire straits of today’s farmers; and the preponderance of lactose intolerance, especially in African Americans and Native Americans. I uncovered so much information about milk that it overwhelmed me. But the more I learned, the deeper into the rabbit hole I went, and the more questions I had.
Producing a film on milk
So like any filmmaker, I decided to get answers and make them available to the public. I went on a road trip to Washington D.C. to the US Department of Agriculture's Nutrition Information Center for the facts. On my month-long, 4600-mile journey through the American Southwest and Bible Belt, I met with top doctors and researchers, dietitians, dairy farmers, parents, teachers, and plenty of "ordinary Americans" – such as waitresses, a martial artist, a crepe chef, historical re-enactors and a train robber – who served up food for thought as well as comic relief. The result is Got the facts on Milk?, a wildly entertaining, partly animated examination of the deep-rooted American belief in the health benefits of milk. The film gives a voice to researchers, studies and scientists who reveal the untold truth behind dairy health studies.
I would have wanted my parents to watch this film when I was growing up, and I hope this information helps others the way it has immensely helped me.
Meet Shira Lane
Shira Lane is writer, director, and producer of Got the facts on Milk?, available on DVD and on-demand at MilkDocumentary.com. She lives in Los Angeles with her dog Bobby, her partner Luke, and their baby son Ori.
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