Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Micro by Michael Crichton

If it wasn't for the occasional bad language this mystery/thriller could have been a science textbook for my youngest child. Combining fascinating information about the microscopic world of the Hawaiian rain forest, with fast paced drama and suspense, my son would have loved it. In fact, at the same time I was reading "Micro", he was reading "Gulliver's Travels" and enjoying it. "Micro" is the story of technology gone wrong. A robotics company discovers it can shrink people and objects down to microscopic size. Research can then be done to discover beneficial bacteria and other micro-organisms that could have an enormous impact on society and medicine. However, the possible financial gains bring out the worse in the developers. Money breeds greed and a group of graduate students learn the hard way that you don't want to get in the way of people with their eye on the treasure pot. This was a hard to put down book that I recommend with a warning about the odd bit of language and some violence.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Devil in the Milk by Keith Woodford

I took this book out of the library two times. The first time the title intrigued me, but I decided not to take on this health issue. It's bad enough to have to worry about raw milk vs pasturized milk. But A1 v A2 milk? Not going there. For 6 months or so anyways.

After listening to Mr. Woodford on a podcast a few months ago, I reserved the book one more time, resolving to settle the matter once and for all. (Once and for all? Can that ever be said about health stuff?) Warning - this author is a scientist. He speaks in scientist language. So while the book was certainly readable, there were times when my brain started to spasm and I had to set it aside for a while. I was very glad that he ended many chapters with a summary or "the big picture" as he called it.

Basically, the issue is that there are two types of cow's milk based on a particular milk protein called A1 beta-casein. Milk that contains A1 beta-casein is called A1 milk; milk that does not is called A2 milk. A genetic mutation thousands of years ago caused A2 milk (which all milk was at the time) to become A1 (primarily in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and northern Europe). After doing extensive research Mr. Woodford brings forth evidence that A1 milk contributes to heart disease, Type 1 diabetes, autism, allergies, intolerance, auto-immunity and schizophrenia. The amount of evidence is powerful. His argument had enough weight behind it to convince me that there is a very good chance that A1 milk should be avoided. However, in our country there is no way to tell what kind of milk you are getting, unless you are buying from a farmer who tests his cows. Milk from a dairy that pools product from a number of farms most certainly contains some of each type. The only way at this point to be assured of not drinking A1 milk is to drink goat milk. And so, that is what I am doing. I've made the big switch. My kefir and yogurt is now goat milk based and I am slowly getting used to it. In the meantime, I will monitor the situation. Getting a whole country on board to change over their herds to A2 will take persuasion on a level that boggles the mind. Or we could just move to Australia where A2 milk is available in the grocery store. Not sure my husband would agree to that.