Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Milk (& Honey)

You could describe me as impulsive.

Which explains why, on an otherwise very focused trip to Whole Foods, my gaze settled on a carton of Hemp milk, with my hand not far behind it. It was only $3, and with all the recent fearmongering about processed soy, not mention actual actual dairy, I decided to try a different kind of milk. (When I brought it home to show Jess, she quipped that it must have been harvested from a "lactating hippie.") They're actually harvested from hemp nuts, the seed of the hemp plant (yes, THAT hemp plant).

So, over a cup of Guatemala with a few delicious vanilla hemp milk spoonfuls stirred in, I got to thinking...

I wanted to explore milk. Hemp milk, soy milk, almond milk, buttermilk, and plain old milk.


Hemp milk is an Omega-3 winner! So if you're not a big fish eater, this could be a great way to get those fatty acids.


Soy is a good source of protein, but can be high in sugar (although I'm sure that any flavors added to soy/hemp milk adds a fair amount of sugar, e.g., Vanilla).


Almond milk has been recommended to me by several trusted (read: hippie) sources as the optimal "milk" product, but I haven't tried it. The chart below shows that it has the least amount of fat and calories of any of the non-dairy milks, but has hardly any protein.


I remember as a little girl, my grandmother would make Southern biscuits from scratch, and dip chunks of them in a cold glass of buttermilk for breakfast. The only time I've interacted with buttermilk since then are in my various attempts at baking - so buttermilk and I don't have the best relationship. Obviously you wouldn't drink buttermilk, or pour it over your cereal (at least I wouldn't). But how it's made is interesting:


Researching milk is kind of like researching political candidates. It's hard to find unbiased information. The best source for it, I found, is simply the back of the milk carton. Whole milk is high in fat and saturated fat, which is why many of us have switched to lower-fat versions.

The most interesting thing about researching milk is the myriad of anti-milk websites you'll find. A few:

It's a little saddening that a food that has nourished humans for thousands of years is now facing such bitter opposition, but then again, artificial hormones and inhumane living circumstances for cows and other dairy animals is a very recent phenomemon. Good luck figuring out anything useful about dairy. In the midst of such confusion about what should be simple nutritional information, I always turn to the tried and true: everything in moderation. I assume that includes dairy.

Below, an interesting comparison of milk from different animals, including human animals!

So, after all this, what have I REALLY learned about milking it?

It's hard to say.

Like any other fevered foray into the world of nutritional comparison, you have a lot of people with a lot of different opinions (and most of them, not surprisingly, want you to buy THEIR superior product).

So I guess it comes down to this: if milk makes you feel icky, don't drink it. If drinking the "milk" of the same plant that's celebrated by High Times magazine gives you the willies, don't go there. If processed soy has you on edge, steer clear. The bottom line is (somebody dust off the old soapbox), being informed about what you put into your body - not to mention eating conscientiously, hard as it is - is, in my opinion, the best way to make healthful decisions.

Speaking of healthful decisions, I have discovered the best granola in the universe. Behold:

It's from the same folks that brought you Milk & Honey Cafe in Wicker Park:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You simply MUST try chocolate Almond breeze. Also, you should be wary of those "nutrition" guides... the soy milk I buy doesn't have a lot of sugars, but most importantly, the sugars are unrefined. I think it is best to read ingredients over those nutrition tables!

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