Milk provides a package of protein and essential nutrients that are not easily replaced with other foods. Among registered dietitians, family physicians and pediatricians who participated in a recent survey, fluid milk was among the top sources of calcium and vitamin D they recommended to their clients/patients.
So what’s up with all of the other items filling the shelves claiming to be milk or just like milk? Walk past the dairy case at any given grocery store, and the choices can be dizzying. To make matters even more confusing, the products’ nutrients are not consistent, and the ingredient lists range from simple to complex.
Only cow’s milk has a long track record of research supporting its health benefits, and other alternatives simply cannot match the complete nutritional equivalent. Non-dairy beverages have no FDA-regulated standard of identity as cow’s milk products do, and the nutrition claims for these items vary greatly.
To help you ‘decode the dairy case,’ here’s a short video from our friends at the American Dairy Association:
At Honor the Harvest, a summit sponsored by the National Dairy Council in June, more than 200 professionals from the culinary, nutrition, health and wellness, and agricultural communities gathered to immerse themselves in the science and insights about dairy’s role from farm to table.
Representing Oregon at this national summit was Anne Goetze, our Senior Director of Nutrition Affairs, Oregon Health and Science University’s Sonja Connor and Oregon Department of Education’s Farm to School Specialist, Rick Sherman.
“Our Oregon guests are leaders locally and nationally. They were intrigued to hear dairy’s sustainability story,” said Anne.
From a packed day of educational sessions and application to a tour of the agricultural experience at Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana, participants learned about dairy’s key role as part of sustainable food systems.
“Honoring the harvest is about using the food for its highest purpose and moving nutrients through the food system – from people, to animals, and back to the land to grow more food – instead of going to waste in a landfill,” said Anne. “By working together we can preserve precious resources and feed a growing population.”