The great dairy debate

Alternatives to a traditional glass ofthewhite stuff are pelting us from all directions. Should you jointhemylk brigade?
Nanjing Night Net

You’d be forgiven for thinking thatdairywas sinful. To be cast aside, poured downthesink and forgotten. “We’retheonly animals who continue to drink milk into our adult years,”thecritics say. “We’retheonly mammals to drinkthemilk of a different species,” saythenaysayers. And according to Paleo followers, “Inthestrict Paleo sense,dairyof any form was not consumed inthePalaeolithic Era, other than human milk in infancy, of course. It just wasn’t very practical to milk wild game.”

So begantherise of “mylk”. Yes, with a “y”. It’s a term adopted bythealternative milk industry, which is growing in leaps and bounds. In fact, bythetime I finish this sentence, there might be another hip cafe opening that doesn’t even servedairymilk.

Nut milks, rice milk, oat milk and, of course, soy milk (which gained popularity more than a decade ago, but has since lost some of its shine due to conflicting studies abouttheway soy is sourced and what overconsumption can do to our health), have saturatedthemarket sincethewhole health movement began about 2012, and has picked up pace in recent years. According to supermarket chain IGA: “Soy milk is stillthemost popular of alternative milks but almond, rice and coconut milk continue to grow exponentially in popularity with IGA shoppers, and we expect this trend to continue.”

Who’s giving upthewhite stuff?

One in six Australians are saying goodbye to milk, according to a June 2016 study of 1200 people bytheCSIRO and University of Adelaide. Fairfax Media reported atthetime that, “three-quarters were eschewingdairyin an attempt to relieve symptoms such as bloating, stomach cramps and wind. A smaller number said they simply didn’t likethetaste or thought it would make them fat. More women than men are avoiding milk anddairyfoods that are rich in nutrients including calcium, iodine, and vitamins A, D and B12.”

With personal health a big factor for many, andthecurrent trend of “health experts” encouraging people to give updairy, more women than men are staying away in an attempt, essentially, to lose weight.

“My naturopath told me I should give updairyas it was causing problems with my skin and making me bloated. Since giving it up, I feel much better but it hasn’t made me lose weight,” says Alison, 44, an account manager.

“I was advised to give updairyin order to get pregnant,” says subeditor Nicole, 36. “But despite giving it up for almost a year, it didn’t help me. I’ve since been back on it and am now pregnant – in fact, I drink a glass of cold milk every day!”

“Thescale of people restricting their diet without a medical reason is very concerning in terms ofthepublic health implications, especially for women,” CSIRO’s Bella Yantcheva tells Fairfax Media.

Leading nutritionist Rosemary Stanton says: “Some think it’s not natural for humans to drinkthemilk of another mammal but for those who can happily tolerate lactose, milk is a perfectly OK food and no more unnatural than breeding cows and other animals and eating their flesh.” She is concerned people are self-diagnosing symptoms such as bloating, when there might not be a direct link, and says those ondairy-free diets need to supplement their intake with other calcium-rich foods.

So hip right now

“There are a lot of people jumping ontheno-dairybandwagon just because it’s trendy,” says nutritionist Jacqueline Alwill fromTheBrown Paper Bag. “But you should always try and learn whether foods are good for your body or not before making a decision. It’s such a personal thing.”

Alwill’s philosophy is that it’s more about getting your nutrients from different sources and mixing up those sources, instead of returning tothesame source day in, day out.

“This might mean you swap out onedairycomponent for an alternative, rather than a blanketdairycut. If you have a smoothie, a coffee and a yoghurt all withdairyintheone day, you might want to consider using almond milk for your smoothie and having a coconut yoghurt, but keepingthedairymilk in your coffee, where you really love it.”

Alwill says there’s no real need to give updairyforthesake of it, or because you might have read that you need to.

“If you don’t have an allergy and it’s not disagreeing with you, then a good, whole-fat milk is fine once a day.”

Andthenew way to get your alternative creamy shot is to visit your local “mylk” bar, like Zeitgeist, recently opened in Sydney’s Bondi, which serves house-made almond-macadamia milk with everything from milkshakes to vegan treats. It’s a close cousin of Coffee, a Bondi Beach cafe that serves only nut milk – nodairy. In Melbourne, onthe”plant-based” menu at Matcha Mylkbar in St Kilda you’ll find soy, almond and coconut milk lattes (also with turmeric or apple cider), and Serotonin Eatery in Richmond offers macadamia milk, too.

“We make our own milk, so we know how creamy they are,” says Zeitgeist owner Grace Watson. “Thepackaged ones are good, but home-made nut milks are much more delicious. Our milk givesthesame creaminess asdairyand we can make it thick and frothy. It’s perfect for steaming.”

Which nut milk is best?

Not all alternative milks are created equal. Just like in many other industries, there are those that have jumped onthetrend and dilutedtheproduct down to a cheaper version oftheoriginal. And if you watchthevideo attached to this story on GoodFood南京夜网419论坛, you’ll see they didn’t rate highly with our expert panel.

Comments on almond milk ranged from “It tastes like Mylanta”, fromthehead chef of Gelato Messina, Donato Toce, to “It has a cooked taste”, “It has floaties in it” and “It’s too watery”.

Vittoria’s prime barista, Joe Rahme, says he wouldn’t make coffee with it, “because it would be very hard to get a foam onthemilk and it would separate”.

Sommelier from hatted restaurant Automata, Tim Watkins, says of rice milk: “It smellsgreat, it’s got a really nice aroma to it, which makesthelet down allthemoregreatwhen you actually taste it.”

And Colin Fassnidge from 4Fourteen says almond milk “reminds me of milk of magnesia. It’s medicine-y”.

Buttheproblem may be more down totheproduction ofthemilk, rather thanthebase flavour.

“We need to separate alternative milks into two categories,” says naturopath Anthia Koullouros from Ovvio Organics. “One is those that are ultra-heated and pasteurised, sold intheTetra packs. They’re long-life shelf milks andtheones I’ve never recommended.Themarket listened to our protests however, because now there are a bunch of fresh nut milks available inthefridge section.”

Theproblem withtheTetra options, Koullouros says, istheultra-heating that essentially destroysthenutrients we’d otherwise get fromtheingredients. “They don’t add much oftheactual nuts totheproduct either, it’s a lot of water and additives. Fresh milks are exciting as most of them are made from activated nuts and they’re prepared well, with no heating, and are highly nutritious. They taste like fresh home-made almond milk.”

And if you are going to choosedairymilk,theoverwhelming winner is full cream – preferably jersey (withthepod of cream on top). Besides beingthebest in taste, new studies suggest drinking skim milk doesn’t havetheslimming effect we once thought.

“Skim milk goes through that extra process to takethefat out of it, which means we’re missing out on allthegoodness and nutrition fromthefat. Fat keeps us satiated, which will mean we eat less inthelong run,” Koullouros says.

“Healthy living is not about counting fat or calories any more. We look atthetotal nutrients consumed to have a healthy lifestyle. If you’re getting nutrients from healthy sources then a little bit of fat with milk doesn’t hurt.”

Therise of raw milkIt is illegal to sell raw milk (milk that is unpasteurised) as drinking milk in Australia, due tothebacteria, including E.coli. Buttheraw milk movement has gained almost as much steam asthealternative mylk movement in recent years. Pro-raw milk users saythepasteurisation that traditionally heats milk to 72 degrees, killsthegood microbes (mainly bacteria) as well asthebad, meaning we are not gettingthefull nutritional benefits.

Others blamedairyand lactose allergies on pasteurisation. Still, Australian law has not budged. Until now. A new company, Made by Cow, has recently won approval to sell raw milk in Australia, using a cold press pasteurisation system.

“Good herd management, hygienic milking techniques andthecold pressure method have meant we can put 100 per cent safe, raw milk onto supermarket shelves,” says company founder, Saxon Joye.

Thecompany worked for a year withtheNSW Food Authority to ensuretheproduct was safe and fit for human consumption, though some people still have their doubts. For stockists, check online: madebycow南京夜网

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