I don’t know how we missed this, but yesterday was National Milk Day. While many of these are completely made up, National Milk Day is meant to commemorate the day many think the first milk deliveries in glass bottles began in the U.S. So what is the latest trend in milk, and are we headed in the right direction? Let’s dive in.
Oat Milk Is So Yesterday
It has been a rollercoaster ride for milk over the past few decades. We’ve gone from celebrities in milk mustaches in the 90s to an oat milk Super Bowl ad in 2021 to the resurgence of raw milk in some health circles today.
In the early 1990s, “Got Milk?” took the world by storm. To this day, it is one of the most memorable ad campaigns of all time. It was simple, smart, it was everywhere, and chances are, you remember it vividly. It’s almost impossible to think back to the 90s and not remember an A-list celebrity rocking a milk mustache.
At the time, soft drinks, bottled iced tea, and bottled water were crowding out milk cartons in supermarkets. Americans in the 90s mostly believed that milk was healthy (it is), but many also saw it as a kid’s beverage. Overall, milk consumption was trending down, and sugary soft drink consumption was on its way up. So the milk lobby needed something to get Americans to start drinking more milk again.
“Got Milk?” made milk cool again, but unfortunately, Big Soda won the battle for fridge space in the early 1990s. Then came soy milk, coming onto the scene by embracing the narrative that milk fat was bad for our waistlines and cholesterol. That’s right. It wasn’t the soda inflating our waistlines. It was the milk fat. *eye roll*
Soy milk hit the dairy aisle in 1996 and gained popularity right around the time the New England Journal of Medicine and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that eating soy reduced the risk of heart disease. How accurate was that report? Well, in 2017, the FDA walked back that claim. Sometimes these things take a decade to get it right.
Fast forward to the 2000s, and almond milk hit the scene in a big way, opening the door for every nut in a PLANTERS mix to rebrand itself as milk. Cashew, hazelnut, hemp, flax, macadamia, walnut, pea, and quinoa, just to name a few. Did you even care about your health or the environment in the 2010s if your coffee order wasn’t a $7 sprouted cashew milk latte with an almond croissant on the side?
And then oat milk became king overnight, with Oatly launching a Super Bowl ad in 2021 to flex just how popular the grain milk had become. I mean, the company is from Sweden, so how could that stuff not be healthy? (it isn’t)
This finally brings us to the latest chapter in this milk saga. We are trending back towards milk that is actually milk – raw milk, to be exact. Despite finding itself in a gray legal zone in most states, health nuts are nuts about raw milk.
In 1987, the FDA mandated that all milk must be pasteurized, a heating process that kills off any harmful bacteria in the milk. However, people in some health circles will argue that the same heating process also negatively impacts the nutritional value of the milk. For this reason, raw milk from a trusted source is sought out by an increasing number of health-conscious consumers today.
Once you realize that milk fat is not the enemy, people get curious about drinking milk in its most natural, unadulterated state. Is it safe? According to the latest statistics, you have a .00011% chance of getting sick from drinking pasteurized milk from the supermarket and a nine times greater risk of getting sick from raw milk. However, that is still a tiny risk of .001%. You have a significantly greater chance of dying from eating raw oysters than you do of just getting sick from drinking raw milk.
Yet, for some reason, raw oysters are perfectly legal, but raw milk is not.
The key takeaway? You probably won’t see any raw milk ads during the Super Bowl this year, but at least we seem to be headed in the right direction. Raw milk has many benefits, and the risks are grossly overstated in the mainstream health space. Nuts pretending to be milk are just sneaky ways for Big Food to feed you more seed oils, xantham gums, and phosphates. They are not the healthy alternatives they are made out to be.
So if you feel raw-milk-curious, check out this website to find a trusted raw milk source near you. Or you could try ordering a raw milk latte from your favorite man-bun-wearing barista next time and report back how that plays out.
Happy (belated) National Milk Day!