Guest Commentary: Ice cream: A guilt-free treat

Guest Commentary: Ice cream: A guilt-free treat


July is National Ice Cream month and a big bowl is the best way to enjoy summer.

A recently published study by Dr. Brenna Ellison of the University of Illinois found the top concern of people purchasing dairy is that the animals are raised without growth hormone and antibiotics.

I was raised on a conventional cow dairy farm, studied animal science, spent a year on a pastoral New Zealand dairy farm, worked as a food safety chemist, and now am a cheese and ice cream maker at the local goat dairy farm, Prairie Fruits Farm, and I am here to assure you that although your bowl of ice cream may not meet these conditions that you can still enjoy it worry and guilt-free.

In the study, the use of growth hormone, bovine somatotropin (BST), sailed to the top of the list of concerns.

Hormones regulate all sorts of important things in our bodies and new, excess ones must be bad? Lucky for you, you are not a cow.

The fact that this is a bovine hormone is very important. It is species specific. You must be a cow to have this cow hormone affect you in any way. In any other species, it is just added protein in your food.

BST is a natural hormone that cows produce that help them grow big and make lots of milk. A few farmers choose to give the cows a little more of this hormone to help the cows grow a little faster and make a little more milk. I said a few farmers because 80 percent of farmers do not use added BST on their farms. Although safe, it doesn't make financial sense for many farmers. Finally, hundreds of studies have shown no difference in milk from added BST cows and regular cows. You are paying extra for milk that is exactly the same.

The second biggest consumer concern is that dairy products be produced without the use of antibiotics. Antibiotics save not only the lives but the careers of many dairy animals. A sick animal cannot continue producing milk for people to drink because it is not safe or high quality.

There is a huge difference between not using antibiotics on animals and not selling milk with antibiotics in it. This is a fear-based marketing campaign that has unfortunately worked. It is illegal to sell any milk or meat that contains antibiotics. Once antibiotics do their job, the body processes them and they breakdown. After one to two weeks, they no longer exist in the animal's system. All milk produced during this time is discarded. Farmers in the USA are required by law to discard milk that has any antibiotic residue in it. Milk processors in the USA test every load of milk and throw away any milk that tests positive for antibiotic residue. There are no antibiotics in your ice cream or in any of your food, period. Because of antibiotics my sick goats and cows have a shot at the healthy, pain-free life.

Farmers care about you too. We want you and our own families to have healthy, high quality milk from healthy, happy animals and that is why we do use antibiotics but throw away any of our work that might have antibiotics in it. Food safety, food quality and humanely raising the animals we love are universal principles for all farmers' big or small, organic or conventional, goat or cow.

Sometimes you deserve to indulge a little and all ice cream, regardless of the label, is made with hormone-free, antibiotic-free, calcium-rich milk raised with love by family farmers, so indulge guilt free!

Lynn Doran is the Champaign County Farm Bureau Young Ag Leader committee chair and spearheads the local Illini Farm Toy Show. Lynn is a Wisconsin native, growing up on a 50-cow traditional dairy farm before moving to Colorado with her family. Lynn graduated from Colorado State University and is currently an artisan cheese maker at Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery.