Imagine my surprise when I spotted a “new” brand of milk at the store this week while looking for non-fat milk.
I read the label. Non-fat, 30% more calcium, 50% more protein, 50% less sugar and lactose free.
Have you seen this milk? I had not even heard of it let alone researched it.
Into the cart it went.
I usually buy low-fat milk but I needed non-fat milk for a special guy who needs a low-fat, high protein, low sugar diet. This ‘new’ milk seemed to be exactly what we needed.
I poured a glass and amazingly it didn’t look like the typical bluish non-fat milk. It passed the taste test, in fact for non-fat milk it tasted really good.
I made 3 different recipes and it worked great, in fact nobody could detect the non-fat, lower sugar aspect of this milk.
Living in dairy country I thought I knew quite a bit about milk production and processing. I decided to do a little research on this new milk. My jaw dropped and my heart sank when I saw, ‘Franken-milk‘ & ‘Coca-Cola’s Fair Life Milk Isn’t Fair‘ My initial reaction was anger.
Nowhere on the label did it say, Coca-Cola. I questioned myself, “Would I have bought this milk if it had listed Coca-Cola anywhere on the label?” Clearly the answer was, “NO”. Deep inside, I have a distrust of ‘Big Food’ and Coca-Cola is about as big as they come.
I will be honest, I wanted to like this milk. I was disappointed. I read the articles mentioned above plus quite a few others, I checked out the Fairlife website. How is milk with more calcium, less sugar and lactose free actually achieved? I wanted to know how more. I kept researching, reading and asking questions.
Here is a short synopsis of what I discovered.
- To refer to this milk as ‘Franken-milk’ implies that it is not real milk. Nothing could be further from the truth. Fairlife milk is REAL milk, produced by real cows, on real dairies.
- Coca-Cola did not ‘invent’ this milk or the process used to produce it. The Coca-Cola Company is the distribution partner for the products that fairlife creates, markets and sells.
- Fairlife milk is produced by dairy farmers who belong to a dairy co-op, Select Milk Producers. Not unlike most commercial dairies in the United States. The difference between Select Milk Producers and other dairy co-ops is that the milk from one dairy is not co-mingled with milk from other dairies making it possible to trace back to the source.
- Milk we buy at the grocery store (Organic or not) is deconstructed and then reconstructed to a specific formula. Is Fairlife’s Ultra Filtration process much different?
I don’t think so.
- Expense: Many critics suggested that fairlife milk is twice as expensive as ‘regular’ milk. It is more expense than store brand milk, about twice as much. At my local market this week fairlife milk was $3.50 for 1.5 liters. The cost doesn’t seem out of line. when compared to similar size Lactaid at $4.99 or Horizon Organic at $5.29, Alta Dena Fat Free at $2.99 I don’t know how much raw milk costs but I am certain that it is more expensive.
- Bethany McDaniel of Primal Pastures, is the author of “Why Coco-Cola Fairlife Milk Isn’t Fair” which was the first article I stumbled upon when researching Fairlife milk. I admire Primal Pastures and Bethany’s enthusiasm for real food. For me, she missed the mark when comparing Fairlife milk to raw milk. Considering we can’t all have a milk cow in our backyard (nor would we all want to) and I can’t walk up the road to buy raw milk directly from a local dairy, I think it is unfair to call fairlife milk ‘Franken-milk’. If that is the case, then all processed milk products could be called ‘Franken-milk’.
- In California it is still possible to buy raw milk for drinking purposes however it comes with a warning and is not readily available. (Raw Milk and Dairy Products, Risks and Recommendations) The sale of raw milk for drinking purposes is illegal in some states.
I realize this leaves me in the unenviable position of appearing to defend Coca-Cola. As I stated above, Coca-Cola is the distributor of Fairlife milk. Is it possible that with soda sales declining, Coca-Cola branched out to provide a more wholesome product that consumers have been asking for? In defense of dairy farmers Mike and Sue McCloskey the founders of Fair Oaks Farms and of dairy farmers nationwide, who by the way, are some of the hardest working, caring people I know, referring to this product as ‘Franken-milk’ is disingenuous.
There is a market for a lactose free, high protein, low sugar milk. Ideal for those who are diabetic (half the sugar), for those who have at least one family member who is lactose intolerant (no more buying 2 or 3 kinds of milk) and it fits the profile for those who eat a high protein / low carb diet.
Fairlife milk is not organic however they do not use rBST growth hormones.
I found myself impressed to learn that Fair Oaks Farm is ‘Powered by Poo‘. Farm waste (manure) is transformed into energy to fuel the farm, barns and processing plants. Is this just a ‘feel good’ ploy or am I correct in thinking this is ‘modern’ responsible farming?
Knowing what you know now, would you purchase this milk distributed by The Coco-Cola Company?