Who Owns the Word ‘Milk’?

As Daniel Engber at Slate points out today, Americans are drinking less cow’s milk — and more coconut, almond, rice, and soy milk — than they did in the past.

It’s become a crisis for America’s dairy farmers. Not surprisingly, lawmakers who represent these farmers are fighting back.

“Dairy farmers are facing a serious financial crisis,” wrote 34 members of Congress in a letter to the head of the Food and Drug Administration last December.

Engber goes on: “Americans’ milk consumption is in a decadeslong downward slide. In 1975, we consumed an average of 1.3 cups of milk per day; by 2015, that total had dropped by almost 40 percent. In the meantime, our appetite for creamy, plant-based milk substitutes made from soy or almonds has been sharply on the rise.”

It is misleading and illegal for manufactures of these items to profit from the ‘milk’ name,” the lawmakers say. “They are unable to match the nutritional makeup of the product they mimic, yet they continue to be marketed as milk.”

Although milk substitutes might have far fewer calories than cow’s milk, you might be sacrificing certain vitamins and nutrients if you drink milk substitutes. This helpful chart from The Cleveland Clinic explains the differences between milks.

Whatever happens in the milk wars, one thing is certain: Many people, especially younger consumers, have “moooved” on from cow’s milk, and it’s unlikely they’ll go back any time soon.


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