The FDA recently finally got around to their bucket list. At least, they must have. Otherwise, what possible reason could they have to spend time on what constitutes “milk” while there are actual food health issues to deal with?
We imagine the conversation went something like when you and your stoned friends try to define a sandwich. The correct opinion on that matter is, of course, that if a hot dog is a sandwich a Pop-Tart is a ravioli.
But nevertheless, the FDA soldiers on, pure of heart and steadfast in their mission. And really, what is milk? Must it come from an utter? Need it be a fleshy utter, or can it be mechanical? The FDA has decided that they will speak the truth, and you pleebs must listen.
Almond What Now?
Here’s how you make dairy milk. First, feed a cow grass or whatever cows eat. Reese’s Pieces? Then stroke their dangly bits until the white juice comes out. Then pasteurize and all that until its ready to be sent straight to your super duper mart.
Here’s how you make almond “”milk.”” First, feed almonds sunlight, tons of waters and pesticides probably. Pick the almonds. Do you pick almonds or like shake them off the almond bush? Then grind them up into little bits. Mix those bits in a ratio of one part almond dust to five parts water. Swirl it around real good, add other flavoring elements, then box it up and ship it to Whole Foods. Sell for $7 a carton, repeat.
When you think about methods of manufacture, both are gross. Which one is grosser? That’s up to you.
Really, almond milk is a combination of nut dust and water. If that’s all it takes to make milk, I imagine we can come up with a few other varieties of milk. Mix ground up gummy bears with water: gummy milk. Mix pasta water with more water: pasta milk. Mix wood pulp with water: tree milk. See how easy this is? You can understand why the FDA wants to draw a line somewhere. Weird hill to die on, maybe. But that’s the FDA’s whole regulatory mission.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb spoke at the POLITICO Pro Summit, saying these immortal words: “An almond doesn’t lactate, I will confess.” It seems like they’re trying to back up the struggling dairy industry. But the regulatory process takes forever, requiring massive public comment. But “public comment” doesn’t mean consumer voices matter. We learned that from the FCC’s Net Neutrality debacle. No, it means that lobbying groups will compete to lavish the most money on FDA officials. Whoever wins that game will get to decide what “milk” means.
That’s a lot of milk, boss
The stakes are actually pretty high, as petty as the issue seems. There are about 45 million pounds of milk sold in the US each year. Is pounds a weird unit for a liquid? You bet your bottom it is. But that’s what we gotta deal with, Statista. If a gallon of milk weighs 8.16 pounds, that poundage translates to 5.5 million gallons of milk each year. If the average price of milk last year was $3.18 per gallon, that’s about $17.5 million worth of milk sold throughout the country. That number is also slowly decreasing, which the milk-producing industries are not too happy about.
The question is, are people who buy almond milk even capable of buying real milk? Because, let’s be honest: almond milk, soy milk, and all these other imitation milks are weak sauce next to the might of the One True Cow Milk™. They can’t hold a candle to the real thing.
So if you’re out there drinking a glass of warm almond milk before bed, are you suddenly going to stop buying it because it’s now called “Almond Drink?” Probably not. You’re either lactose intolerant, vegan, or just insane enough to think almond milk tastes good. So Real American Milk™ probably isn’t on your list of options. And you have our pity, you poor souls.