Sorry if that headline created a word picture you’d rather forget but it wasn’t mine. It’s the phrase used by a farmer describing almond “milk” that caught Twitter’s attention yesterday.
“Crushed nut juice” hit the news as NSW dairy body, Dairy Connect, launched a campaign to have soy, rice, almond and other plant-based extracts relabeled without the word “milk”.
Dairy Connect CEO Shaughn Morgan said there was a constantly evolving range of so-called “milk” products vying for consumer attention.
“We have seen a rise in the number of dairy-imitations made from plants,” Shaughn said.
“We believe that this has been the source of confusion among consumers, some of whom equate the great nutritional benefits of cows’ milk with the plant drink alternatives.”
Can’t imagine how people could confuse the nutrition of dairy milk and something like rice milk? Tragically, the news is sprinkled with the cases of infant deaths due to just that mistake.
They’re all white, they all work well on your Weeties but these cute little explainers from Dairy Australia make it pretty obvious there’s no comparison between the real thing and the imitations.
If you’d rather go natural, go for real milk
Perhaps the most surprising difference between real milk and the imitations is the amount of processing and added ingredients. Wow!
Real milk is a naturally good source of protein and calcium but the imitations must be fortified with artificial ingredients to come close.
Truth in labeling is important to me, both as a dairy farmer and a mum. Families at the supermarket deserve to know exactly what they’re buying, so I’ve added my signature to Dairy Connect’s petition. Do you think it’s time to take a stand for real milk, too?
11 thoughts on “Crushed nut juice”
Thanks Marian, this really needs to be sent far and wide, I certainly ill be doing so.
Another great article Marion. Of course the trouble goes much wider with truth in labelling and foods. And of course there are all the exceptions to labelling. For example no information on fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meat, ….
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The sugars, “nutritional” additives, oils and preservatives are ignored by those who consume those “milks”. I make a point of asking those people if they have read the label. “Nope it’s not milk, it must be healthy”. Remember the parents convicted of starving their child because of the lack of nutrition in these nut juices?
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The fact is that alternative “milks” meet the labelling requirements, and people buying them are not under any illusions about what they are buying and why. That’s why they are willing to pay more for the product. The main reasons are both ethical and health.
Dairy confronts a very real problem though whether this will be a big issue in the longer run remains to be seen (though I hope so). And that is that firstly the ethical issue is a significant concern to many people even though the dairy industry doesn’t understand that as well as it might, and secondly that soy/almond/coconut milks are certainly no worse in processing terms than many, many products the animal farming industry already promotes and sells.
Combine that with the fact that milk is not critical to human health and that many alternatives are easily as nutritious or healthy (and better options are appearing all the time), and well… dairy seems to be a less defensible option to many of us.
Farmers trying to change food labelling laws is a poor response and shows the industry in a poor light. No-one is fooled by the labelling, what people ARE fooled by is the animal food industry’s marketing tactics to wriggle out from under its ethical shortcomings. Genuine truth in labelling would provide consumers with a more accurate portrayal of just what their purchases mean. Trying to change labelling laws just confirms to people that dairy is an untrustworthy player in the food sector.
There’s no claim here, Graeme, that milk is essential to human health, although it does provide many essential nutrients that are hard to find in such a concentrated form elsewhere. All we are asking is that food is accurately named.
Even those who oppose the farming of animals would be better served by drawing a clear distinction between true milk and the plant-based imitations.
Marian I think you already have that. As far as I know, the labelling laws require that alternatives be marketed with the word milk playing second fiddle to the actual main ingredient. Hence soy concoctions are sold as “soy milk”, coconut versions as “coconut milk” and so on. And it’s not meant to hoodwink consumers because the manufacturers are deliberately TRYING to give their product a dairy milk-like consistency and taste. The idea is that these alternatives are exactly that – alternatives. They are meant to look like, taste like and perhaps offer the same nutritional convenience as dairy milk but with a less harmful production cycle.
In truth, as I said, the efforts to suppress the use of the word “milk” is risible. Because everyone knows what’s going on. The industry would do better to be honourable and try to compete on the actual playing field rather than stooping to desperate efforts to suppress genuine competition.
And let’s be honest, “milk” is a secretion that in nature is meant to sustain the young of mammals. All of the ways we use it are human derived so names such as cream, ice cream, butter, yoghurt and so on are labels we created to identify a product that doesn’t occur in nature. So why is this artificial terminology sacrosanct?
Butter is called butter. Almond water extract should be called almond water extract!
“the labelling laws require that alternatives be marketed with the word milk playing second fiddle to the actual main ingredient. Hence soy concoctions are sold as “soy milk”, coconut versions as “coconut milk” and so on”
I’m calling fake labels with the majority there Graeme
With less than 3% in most brands I find it incredulous that they don’t breach labeling laws. Read some labels the majority is water, fillers, sugars, added nutrients.
Sanitarium Soy Milk Ingredients:
Filtered water, soy protein (3.5%), corn maltodextrin (sugar), vegetable oils (sunflower, canola), cane sugar (sugar), minerals (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium), acidity regulators (332, 450), antioxidant (ascorbic acid), vitamins (A, B12, D2, B2, B1), natural flavour.
Doesn’t just apply to milk.
Check out the mass produced pizzas.
The cheese is an analogue … read fake and has wood/bamboo fiber added along with more.
Regardless of the manufactured process just tell the truth.