RW / WW Day 9-11: Milk’s missing from many mealtimes

There’s soy milk, coconut milk and flax milk. There are all sorts of fancy juices and bottled waters. But good old milk — the moo cow kind — is losing its place at the kitchen table.

Fewer and fewer people are drinking milk. Interest in the white liquid has been falling for years. Last year and the year before saw the biggest drop in milk drinking in more than 10 years. Milk is especially missing during mealtime. A tall glass of milk with a sandwich or a burger is increasingly becoming a thing of the past.

“I was a milk lover and I grew up drinking it. You just kind of had milk with your dinner,” said Amy Bryant. Bryant lives in St. Paul, Minn. She has two daughters, ages 8 and 5.

Adults drinking milk for dinner seems kind of old fashioned, she said.

Off The Shopping List

People eat three times the amount of cheese than they did 40 years ago. But milk is fading from the nation’s grocery lists.

Kids used to be the biggest milk drinkers. But even they aren’t drinking as much of it as they once did.

One out of four preteens don’t drink milk on any given day, says the government.

Mary Hanson-Busch used to have milk at breakfast. She would drink it either with cereal, a muffin or toast. But last fall, Hanson-Busch decided she didn’t need as much milk. Milk was too fattening.

“Every night when we sit down for supper, I grab a big squeezy bottle of water,” said Hanson-Busch. She lives in New Prague, Minn.

One of her two daughters decided to stop drinking cow’s milk. She became a vegetarian and switched to coconut milk. “We go through about a gallon of milk a week for the family,” Hanson-Busch said. “We used to go through about two gallons.”

Soy, Almond And Coconut

Milk is one of the best sources of vitamin D and calcium, said Deb Sheats. She is a professor at St. Catherine University in St. Paul.

Cheese is also an excellent source of calcium. The body uses calcium to build bones. But cheese is often more fattening than milk. It also doesn’t have as much Vitamin D.

Enter the “plant” milks — soy, almond and so on. They’re not really milk. But they are called milk to sound healthier. Plant milks have just as much, if not more, calcium and vitamin D. But, they aren’t naturally in plant milks — they are added in the factory. Plant milks are also more expensive than milk.

The “plant” milk makers say they are as good as milk, said Marin Bozic. He is a professor at the University of Minnesota. He studies how dairy farmers sell products.

Some people are concerned about growth hormones in dairy cows, found IBISWorld, a company that collects information on businesses. Many farmers give cows drugs, called hormones. These increase how much milk they make. Some people are worried that the hormones will harm the people who drink the milk. Other people have questioned the idea of drinking cow’s milk altogether, said Antal Neville. She works for IBISWorld.

“Milk Life” Ads

The dairy farmers are fighting back. They began new advertising last month with “Milk life.” The new ads play up milk’s health benefits. They got rid of their old “Got milk?” ads.

But bringing people back to milk won’t be easy. Take the experience of Stacey Sundquist in Virginia, Minn. She and her husband have three kids under age 10. The children drink milk regularly at meals.

Until a few years ago, Sundquist herself drank milk three times a day. Now, she drinks more water and has developed a taste for almond milk. She even likes it in her morning oatmeal. Sundquist made the switch after reading about the hormones given to cows.

“I started questioning whether I needed cow’s milk in my diet,” she said. “I decided I really didn’t.”

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