Food Dialogues Blog

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What’s in your glass?

Let’s talk chat about milk, shall we? It seems as though many milk alternatives are rising in popularity. Almond milk, cashew milk, soy milk, etc.
Today I want to compare and contrast dairy milk and its alternatives, specifically almond milk. I want to share with you why I continue to choose dairy milk despite the increasing popularity of other alternative milk sources.

Personally, I love milk. Yes, it probably has something to do with the fact that I am a dairy farmer, but drinking milk is more than just a tradition for me. It is a choice for my family.

There are a lot of folks out there who like to spread false information about dairy. They might say “milk is bad for you” or “it is full of antibiotics.” To top it off, they like to accuse me and other farm families of poor animal welfare practices.
It drives me crazy because I know how hard my family works to care for our animals, and to produce a safe, quality product for our family and yours. Dairy farmers work long hours every day to ensure their cattle have the best of the best. We work with veterinarians, nutritionists and many other experts in an effort to sustainably raise a healthy animal. I could go on and on about how we care for our cows, but let’s get to what is actually in your milk.

First, let me tell you what is NOT in your milk; blood, pus, antibiotics, manure, and extra hormones. From the dairy to you, milk goes through strict quality controls to ensure safety, freshness and great taste.  Do I use antibiotics on our dairy farm? Heck yes! I’m not going to let a sick animal suffer.  I use antibiotics when needed and discard the milk until it tests negative for antibiotics.  Furthermore, every tank of milk in the U.S. is tested for antibiotics when it reaches the creamery.  In the unlikely event that it does test positive for antibiotics, the entire load of milk is disposed of.

Cow’s milk is simple and natural. It contains essential nutrients including calcium, potassium, protein and phosphorus; plus, its fortified with vitamins A and D. It is an excellent source of protein that helps build strong muscles for your active lifestyle.

Almond milk is a safe and healthy alternative to cow’s milk. It contains protein, vitamin E and other nutrients needed to live an active lifestyle. At $3.28 per ½ gallon, it’s a pretty good bargain. However, almond milk doesn’t quite stack up when compared to milk.

One 8-ounce glass of fat-free milk contains eight grams of protein. The same amount of almond milk only contains one gram of protein. Something else to consider is that same glass of fat-free milk contains 80 calories and NO added sugar. Regular almond milk has 90 calories and 15 grams of added sugar.

Let’s take a closer look at low-fat cow’s milk compared to almond milk. Here is a chart I drafted using data from the USDA National Nutrient Database:

Low-Fat cow’s milk Almond milk
Calories 110 60
Protein 8g 1g
Fat 2.5g 2.5g
Carbohydrates 12g 8g
Calcium 30%* 45%
Phosphorus 25%* n/a
Potassium 10%* 1%*
Vitamin B-12 Vitamin B-12* 50%
Vitamin A 10% 10%
Vitamin D 25% 25%

*denotes naturally occurring

There are a lot of folks out there who might choose almond milk because they believe it is packed full of nuts. The reality is that many brands of almond milk may contain as little as two percent almonds, (which is the equivalent of three to four whole almonds in each 8-oz glass) as calculated from data from the USDA Nutrient Database. In addition, there is often added sugar, as well as additives like lecithin, calcium carbonate, and added water.

Not all dairy milk alternatives offer the same amount of nutrients as real dairy milk, so it is important to give the label a read. If you are looking for a product that is affordable and a is great source of protein and other nutrients, you might want to check out the label.

Milk is simple and pure. It contains just three ingredients; milk and vitamins A and D. That’s it. Few foods deliver dairy’s powerhouse of nutrients in such an affordable and readily available way. Milk is about 25 cents per glass compared to almond milk at 41 cents per serving. You can find milk just about anywhere; its at your local grocery store, dollar store, and gas station.

Maybe you don’t like milk or maybe you are lactose intolerant. That is fine; there are plenty of other options in and out of the dairy case. For me and my family, milk is an affordable, healthy and safe way to get the nutrients we need to be rock stars at life. Bonus: milk comes from super, awesome dairy farmers like me!

To read more from Annaliese, visit moderndayfarmchick.com.

Annaliese Wegner is a new addition to U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance’s Digital Voices Council. This post is part of my ongoing sponsored partnership with U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. All opinions expressed are my own. Funded by one or more checkoff programs.

Sources:

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2015. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.

“Dairy Milk Vs Almond Milk and Milk Alternatives”. Milk Life. America’s Milk Companies.