Raise Your Hoof for Chocolate Milk

The American Dairy Association (ADA) has had its udders rooted in the USDA’s dietary recommendations for many decades.  A week ago I was going seven-food-groupsover the history of the USDA’s colorful charts depicting what Americans are supposed to eat.  One of my favorites, penned in 1943, gives us the Seven Food Groups.  Milk has its own group, so does Butter.  But dairy finds its way into the Meat Cheese Fish Poultry group and surprisingly shows up in the Cereal and Bread group too where the claim is that “Added milk improves nutritional values”.  Wow.  Four out of seven.  Impressive.  If you believe that is an accident, or meant to improve health, think again.  Politics abound as nutrition maven Marion Nestle is quick to write a tome on (Food Politics).  All this to remind you of the powerful, government-backed organization  dairy farmers have profited from for many many moons.

This week the ADA announced its “Raise Your Hands for Chocolate Milk” campaign in an effort to promote school sales of sugary flavored milks.  They claim that if kids skip chocolate milk, they will choose fruit juice or soda and miss out on all those important nutrients that they are not getting in their macaroni and cheese, cheese pizza, ice cream, smoothies and yo-yo yogurt cups.  How much dairy does a child need? Or more precisely – how much calcium?

Cow’s milk is designed to quadruple a calf’s bone structure in six months.  At no point in a human’s life do we lay down that much bone.  Yet recommendations from the nutrition party line would have us believe that we can never eat enough.  The United States has one of the highest intakes of calcium in the world and simultaneously one of the highest rates of osteoporosis.  What gives?

I’m not anti-milk, not at all anti-dairy but I’m strongly in the court of “more is not better.”  Dairy foods can be difficult for a lot of people to digest.  Many kids have dairy allergies or dairy sensitivities.  Traditional wisdom teaches ushands that culturing dairy (adding probiotics or allowing it to sour) breaks down the pesky lactose and casein that many people to have trouble digesting past the age of weaning.  Shouldn’t we make sure that each child is sporting a healthy digestive system by getting enough fiber, vitamins, minerals and probiotics before we coerce them to raise their hands for chocolate milk?

Being pro or con chocolate milk once again loses sight of the common sense big picture.  Why fill kids up on sugar and milk and leave no room for the nutrients they are NOT getting enough of on their school lunch tray?

4 thoughts on “Raise Your Hoof for Chocolate Milk

  1. Just wanted to say that I LOVE your cookbook. I watch the videos every week and asked my husband for the cookbook as a birthday gift last month….it is so great!! I love the fact that it’s almost entirely vegetarian and that you include babies, too. Hope you write another one soon. Cheers, Erica Thorne

  2. I remember being surprised chocolate milk was an option for my daughter when she started kindergarten last year. AND they also allowed the kids (5 y.o.’s) to pick and choose what from the lunch menu they wanted, the sides, etc. I’m guessing they all picked chocolate milk as their drink! I feel better with her drinking orange juice over chocolate milk. Is that trading one not-so-great for another of the same or making an improvement?

  3. Thank you so much for writing about the “other side” of dairy. Although I am not entirely anti-dairy, I have chosen not to give my 3.5 year old any dairy products for the reasons you cite above. He’s not a calf, he’s a human being! You provide wonderfully balanced information in a world of heavily influenced media. Kudos to you!

  4. I should be very thankful for my son’s pre-school. They only offer plain milk during breakfast time and only water is allowed during lunch. On special fall days they will give each a small cup of apple cider. I used to buy vanilla milk for my 4 yr old for long trips in the car as his drink and I stopped about 10 months ago for the amount of sugar in such a small serving of milk. Thank you so much for posting this!

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