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Only Milk is Milk

Only Milk is Milk
Imitations are imitations.

If you've visited the dairy section of a large grocery store lately, you'll notice there are dozens of choices when it comes to "milk."

Of course there's whole milk, 2%, 1%, skim milk and chocolate milk in gallon, half-gallon, and quart sizes. They also sell various sizes of strawberry flavored milk and lactose-free milk. And there's organic whole milk, 2% milk, 1% milk and skim milk in gallon and half-gallon sizes. Organic chocolate milk is also sold in various sizes.

Then there is soy "milk" and something called almond "milk." Notice, I put milk in quotes when referring to these soy and almond products that call themselves "milk." How can something made from soybeans or almonds be called milk in the first place? They are not milk. The ingredients label reveals there isn't a drop of cow's milk or any other kind of animal milk in either of these products yet they call themselves "milk."

What's in soy milk?

According to the ingredients label, soy milk contains filtered water, whole soybeans, natural evaporated cane juice, calcium carbonate, natural vanilla flavor, sea salt, carrageenan, vitamin A, palmitate, vitamin D2, riboflavin and vitamin B12. Calcium carbonate – isn't that the stuff they use in antacids? Yuck. None of this stuff sounds appetizing. If you check the ingredients label of a gallon of real milk, you'll find a much shorter list – milk, vitamin A palmitate and vitamin D3.

In the interest of science, I decided to buy a quart of Silk brand soy milk to see what this stuff tastes like. It isn't cheap. A quart of Silk sells for $2.43 at my local Piggly Wiggly. If it was sold by the gallon, which it isn't, it would cost nearly $10.

When I got home, I didn't pour myself a tall cold glass of Silk. I found the smallest glass and filled it half full. I reasoned I just had to taste it – I didn't have to drink the whole thing.

How was it? I'll admit it wasn't as bad as I braced myself for, but it doesn't taste like milk. It tasted like a mixture of chalk, water and vanilla. If it didn't have the added vanilla it would be less palatable. It's very watery and somewhat brown, not white like real milk. I don't understand how they can call this stuff milk. I can't imagine pouring this stuff on my Cheerios. I poured the rest of the glass of Silk into a small bowl for my cat BooBoo. He loves real milk. BooBoo looked at this stuff, sniffed it but chose not to drink it. Smart cat.

Misuse of dairy labels

The National Milk Producers Federation first complained about what it deems the misuse of dairy labels to identify non-dairy-based products a decade ago, but it said mislabeling has only expanded since then.

"NMPF contends that not only have the terms 'soy milk' and 'soymilk' continued to proliferate, but also other dairy-specific terms like 'yogurt,' 'cheese,' and 'ice cream' are now being used by products made out of a wide variety of non-dairy ingredients."

NMPF wants to limit the use of the terms to products that actually contain animal milk. And they should.

Their complaint comes as soy products become increasingly popular in the United States. According to the Soyfoods Association of North America, sales of soy milk in the United States have risen from about 100 million dollars in 1996 to 1.1 billion dollars in 2008.

Bottom line, only milk is milk. Fake milk is not.

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