Alt Milk, Anyone?

Last week, Starbucks initiated their “milk makeover” (my term; sorry for the cynicism). Yes, Starbucks, café king of the world, caters to the vegan crowd by eschewing mammalian milk and offering their popular latte’s using alternatives such as almond, coconut, and oat milk. Truth is, they’re listening—and responding— to consumer trends on the horizon.

If you’ve noticed, the millennial generation is creating a labyrinth of non-traditional food trends—largely based on human health and animal welfare. While this peer group is perhaps the first generation with backbone enough to stand up against CAFO’s (concentrated animal feeding operations—aka “factory farms”), it is also very easily persuaded of the supposed benefits of plant based food. While shunning factory-farmed meat and milk is good, Corporate Food exploits the food illiteracy of the young generation in order to accelerate their agenda of highly processed “plant based” food alternatives. Plant based sounds clean and right, but the highly processed part? Don’t kid yourself, it’s bad for human health, and their form of plant-based—which involves many acres of annual mono-crop—is bad for the universe.

If you look at the process of real milk versus milk alternatives, it’s fundamentally different.  For the record, my definition of “real milk” is milk produced by cows in their natural diet and habitat; which is outdoors on grass.  In the production of real milk, the sun grows grass; the cows eat the grass; the grass turns into milk; the dairy farmer harvests the milk; you drink the milk.  In alternative milk, you either plow or kill the grass, plant the annual crop, get it germinated and keep weeds out of it (via ongoing tillage and/or chemicals), then harvest it, dry it, transport it to a laboratory, extract the protein through a maze of complicated infrastructure, then bottle the fluid.  The ecological differences are extreme, and yet Starbucks refuses to use the solar-driven real milk.

Milk moved from food to beverage to condiment in three decades. How?  I think the primary reason is that fooling around with it through pasteurization, homogenization, manipulation (adding Vitamin D and skimming off the cream), and concentrated animal feeding operations created an item so tasteless and unlike normalcy that it was no longer appealing.  It tastes like chalk. It looks like water.  And it carries no nutritional punch. As a result, alternative milk is sold as a condiment and recommended daily intake is quite low. In other words, the manufacturers are saying, “Don’t drink too much of this stuff.” The reason for this is because it contains sugar and carrageenan, along with other fortifications and preservatives to cause resemblance to milk as we know it.

The question that confuses me is this, when a person becomes convinced plant-based is better, why doesn’t he eat plants? Why all the hype the create foods that resemble milk or meat? If you’re opposed to eating animal-derived food, then stick to plants and stop yearning for a plant-based burger that bleeds, or alternative “milk” that has the consistency of the real thing. Problem is, Corporate Food has a problem extracting a profit from mere plants.

The unfortunate truth is, people perceive plant-based to be a better, cleaner, more ethical food that has nothing to do with polluting the soil or water and nothing to do with industrial animal incarceration. The fallacy is in consumer perception of milk and meat alternatives to be “better, cleaner, and more ethical”, which is exactly the image Corporate Food desires to hammer home. And that’s the View from the Country.

P.S. Did you see WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE (an apples to apples dairy comparison)?
Quote Worth Re-Quoting –
“Soil is not usually lost in slabs or heaps of magnificent tonnage. It is lost a little at a time over millions of acres by the careless acts of millions of people. It cannot be saved by heroic feats of gigantic technology, but by millions of small acts of restraints.” ~ Wendell Berry