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Filtering the Truth of Milk

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I keep hearing this commercial that talks about Fairlife, the new “filtered milk” from Coca-Cola. Let me assure you, your commercial milk is already filtered. Milk has much more than 5 ingredients. It’s not that easy  But the idea that you can mix and match ingredients like a regular recipe is frightening to me.

I applaud Coca-Cola’s attempt to find a healthy alternative, but we’ve already oversimplified food systems too much as it is.  They have a right to do what they want, as long as no one gets hurt, but let me start with some basic knowledge, which they may be thinking people don’t know.

Milk comes from mammals, not from almonds, rice or soy. Coconut milk is called that because it looks like milk, not because it is made up of lactose and lactase. It is dairy free.  But different milks are made for different animals.  Humans can drink lots of different types of milk, but some just aren’t practical. Hamster milk would be pretty hard to harvest. Elephant milk is probably difficult to harvest, and really heavy on fat, given the needs of their offspring. Goat’s milk and donkey milk seem to be nearly universal, but in America cow’s milk is the milk of choice.

There has been a lot of hype of the safety of milk, so let me set some things straight.  Dairy farmers do their best to make sure the milk you buy is as safe as they can make it. Each cow’s udder, or goat’s udder, is washed down and cleaned of any contaminating dirt. Each teat is strip tested, meaning that a bit of milk, the dirtiest of all the milk that animal could hold, is milked out of each teat, and checked for infection. The strip test is visual, tactile and immediately filtered, to see if there is any infection brewing. Once that test is clear, the udder is milked out, and the teats are dipped in a treatment that keeps dirt from getting into the udder, and helps to seal the sphincter muscle that keeps the milk from dripping out.

Before that milk is put into the bulk tank it goes through a filter, to catch any problems that might have been missed by the strip test. It also catches any hair, or other objects that might have made it into the milking line.

If a cow is milked by hand, the milk is filtered before being put into any jar, because no one wants furry milk, and everyone wants clean milk. So filtering is part of the process, period.

How that milk is used determines how much fat is in each type of milk. Commercially, all the milk is separated from its butterfat, leaving skim milk. Then it is reconstituted to 1%, 2% or 2.75% which is called “whole milk.  If you are fortunate enough to get milk directly from the dairy where it is raised you may be able to get “creamline,” which is milk that no fat has been removed from. It will separate into cream, if it’s cow’s milk, leaving a cream line at the top of the bottle.

So milk has already been altered from its natural components before you buy it in the store. What Coke is doing beyond that is your opinion whether it’s good or bad. To me, I’ll stick with the stuff that God gave us.  But don’t be fooled that FairLife is somehow better than natural milk. It’s one step away from “normal.”

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