By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only

Ellen G. White's 19th Century Milk Advice

Who is Ellen G. White? She represents many things to many
people, and she is the most translated author in the history
of American literature.

In 1890, my grandmother was born in a small town in Russia,
near the Polish border. During that same year, most of her
family escaped the deadly pogroms which killed my great-
great grandfather, and emigrated to the United States to
operate a dairy farm and raise cattle for slaughter. Their
farm was in Stillwell Corners, NJ. It was called the
Greenberg Farm. It remained a family farm until the middle
of the 20th century. My mom tells me that they milked 14
cows. As a little girl, she also remembers feeding the
chickens with homegrown corn, and digging potatoes. At about
the same time my great-grandma was milking cows and churning
butter, Ellen G. White wrote:

"Butter and meat stimulate. These have injured the stomach
and perverted the taste." (Counsels on Diets and Foods, Page
48, written in 1870)

During her 70 years of writing, White produced 50,000 pages
of manuscript which have been translated into 140 different
languages. White was one of the spiritual founders and
architects of the Seventh Day Adventist Church which today
includes over 20 million members.

Seventh Day Adventists believe that Ellen White's writings
are just one level below that of scripture. They have
inspired a religion, and continue to inspire me. One of
White's greatest works is her "Counsels On Diet and Food,"
edited and first published in 1938.

White makes a most convincing argument that we become what
we eat. Her book includes five hundred+ pages of witticisms
and intellectual arguments regarding diet.

I take this opportunity to share some of my favorite
passages from White's book, Counsels on Diets and Foods:

"Animals from which milk is obtained are not always healthy.
They may be diseased. A cow may be apparently well in the
morning, and die before night. Then she was diseased in the
morning, and her milk was diseased, but you did not know
it." (Page 356, written in 1870)

"Many a mother sets a table that is a snare to her family.
Flesh meats, butter, cheese, rich pastry, spiced foods, and
condiments are freely partaken of by both young and old.
These things do their work in deranging the stomach,
exciting the nerves, and enfeebling the intellect." (Page
237, written in 1890)

"Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the diet
chosen for us by our Creator. These foods prepared for us in
as simple and natural a manner as possible, are the most
healthful and nourishing." (Page 310, written in 1905)

"Children are allowed to eat...cheese...Parents do not
realize that they are sowing the seed which will bring forth
disease and death." (Page 350, written in 1873)

"Cheese should never be introduced into the stomach." (Page
368, written in 1868)

White's dietary philosophy can be summed up by these words
of wisdom:

"Let it ever be kept before the mind that the great object
of hygenic reform is to secure the highest possible
development of mind and soul and body." (Page 23, written in

The last memory I have of my grandmother is of her resting
in a hospital bed, groaning, painfully dying of a cancer
that had spread from her pancreas to other internal organs.
The cancer was eating her body from within. I was only 15-
years-old, and cannot swear that she was a big-time dairy
user. I do remember her last meal, though. She begged me for
ice cream. I walked from the hospital, which was located in
the South Bronx, to a small store and fulfilled her last
request. She was in such pain. Before leaving her room, I
talked with the attending physician. I let him know, even at
15, that our family believed in euthanasia, and that as she
was suffering so, our wish would be for her to have her
endure no more pain. She died a few hours after I left. I
will never know if her death was physician-assisted. I like
to think that it was.

Robert Cohen, author of:   MILK A-Z
Executive Director (
Dairy Education Board

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