When I read magazines like Cosmopolitan, I’m not looking for the cutting edge of journalism. I’m looking for some light reading to keep me entertained during my commute on the metro. So, I got a little salty when I opened the March issue of Cosmopolitan to find an article titled “Should You Be Drinking Milk?”
The article spends four paragraphs planting seeds of doubt about the benefits of milk consumption, quoting the chair of the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and sharing “preliminary research” suggesting that drinking too much milk is a health risk. The article advises readers to limit their consumption of milk to two servings a day and includes a sidebar listing dairy alternatives.
There is a silver lining that gives me some hope for balance from the writers at Cosmo. The author points out that other studies link milk to a lower cancer risk, and she even states that correlation is not causation. My favorite line of the article states, “And because milk drinkers may do other things that put them at an increased risk for cancer, it's impossible to say milk causes the issues that have been linked to its consumption.”
So, I have to ask, Cosmo. If it’s impossible to say that milk causes these issues, why run this article? Why use a title and subtitle that make readers question their consumption of nature’s most nearly perfect food? I understand that you want to keep eyes on your pages to sell advertising space, but I’d prefer you accomplish that with amusing articles like “15 relationship lessons you can learn from celebrities” rather than using scare tactics to make your readers nervous about their food.
Perhaps what got to me the most about the article was that a search of “milk” on Cosmopolitan’s website revealed a November 2014 piece titled “Is Milk Actually Bad for You?” with the subheading “New research is souring milk’s reputation. But is it warranted?” The author of this article drew almost the opposite conclusion, saying, “It's just too soon to make any major dietary changes.”
Wait, what? How am I supposed to know what decisions to make about consuming dairy products if the experts at Cosmo don’t agree? I think I’ll stick to the advice of nutritionists and dietitians when it comes to making dietary choices.
This is far from the first or last time that I’ll come across a misleading depiction of agriculture in popular culture or the media.
Weigh in by commenting below. How do you react when the books, magazines or television shows you read and watch spread misinformation about agriculture? PD
Director of Communications
Animal Agriculture Alliance