Eric Bastian, vice president of industry relations for Dairy West, Twin Falls, Idaho, presented the easiest-to-understand explanation regarding why ruminant animals, such as cows, are so important in the food chain. Here it is:
- Two-thirds of global agriculture land is not suitable for growing crops that humans can digest for energy and nutrition. But these lands are suitable for growing grasses and similar plants that ruminant animals consume.
- These plants are basically sources of cellulose. In fact, half of all organic carbon on earth is tied up in cellulose. Humans are not able to use this carbon for energy. Ruminants can, and they do so very efficiently.
- Ruminants, namely cows, goats and sheep, digest cellulose and convert it into foods that humans can eat. They make all of that organic carbon that cannot be digested by humans available to humans in the form of high-quality protein, essential fatty acids such as omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acid, and an array of other nutrients. Milk, for example, provides calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, B2, B3 and B12.
- Think about a stalk of corn, which provides two to three cobs. Humans can only digest the kernels, and for that matter, not even all of the kernel. The fibrous outer shells of corn kernels pass through the gastrointestinal system undigested due to lack of the necessary digestive enzyme. The rest of that corn plant is useless to humans for energy; however, it’s a meal for ruminant animals such as cows. Cows effectively convert the nutrients in that stalk, husk and cob to meat and milk for human consumption.
- This is why we need ruminant animals to feed the projected 9.7 billion humans who will inhabit earth in 2050.
- Humans are omnivores. We are animals that have the ability to eat and survive on both plant and animal matter. Animal nutrients are powerful. The bear, also an omnivore, gets it. When they are foraging the forest and dining on berries and leaves and see a salmon swimming nearby, they ditch the plants and go for the animal nutrition. Bears are smart. They understand the power of high-quality animal protein.
The Strong Inside
The American Dairy Products Institute (ADPI) and the members of the Dairy Protein Messaging Initiative (DPMI) have officially launched a new website designed to communicate the benefits and positive attributes of proteins from milk, with a focus on protein ingredients: www.TheStrongInside.com.
I first reported on this initiative in May 2019. For more insight, link HERE.
Link HERE for an article on “Dairy vs. Plant Protein” in Food Business News, which includes insight on the initiative.
The new website is an informative hub for The Strong Inside message with fact-based information to better assist consumers with making smart protein choices.
It communicates the nutritional benefits of proteins from milk compared to other protein sources, seeks to refute myths and misconceptions, and fills the void with science-supported information about proteins from milk.
Want to learn more about dairy proteins and dairy ingredients? Plan to attend ADPI’s Dairy Ingredients Seminar next month. I will be presenting on innovation trends. For more information, link HERE.