One of the reasons for why I’m going ever so slightly apeshit with this topic at this very point in time, is that there’s a whole lot of ruckus concerning dairy and plant-based alternatives in Sweden right now. It was initiated because a company that produces oat milk, yoghurt, cream, etc. started with two new slogans:
Personally, I find it to be a really witty and true statement (again: cow’s milk is for calves!). The Swedish milk industry, however, did not find it to be so amusing. According to them, this is ‘misleading marketing’. Haha! As if their strategies are accurate and not misleading? Here’s how the industry is portrayed:
Here’s how the industry actually looks:
This is highly practical: food in, food out, milk in the middle. More than half of all milk cows in Sweden get inflammations every year from all the milking (yeah, that pus goes into the product – good thing it’s pasteurized before it hits the shelves). About 3/4 have hoof complications due to what they’re fed and the way they have to live. Many cows get a certain kind of paralysis because the calcium that they need for proper muscle functioning is going into the milk, which is constantly produced since they’re constantly having babies.
Anyway, due to the law suit of Oatly, there are now articles in most big newspapers that not only comment on the charges from Arla and Svensk Mjolk, but that also brings up anecdotes on milk consumption in the past, and facts/comparisons of the nutritional contents of different kinds of milk(drinks). I find it really interesting, so here’s a recap of a recent article from a pretty serious newspaper.
The title, loosely translated, says that ‘milk’s position is threatened’, a statement based on statistics which reveal that during the past year only, the sales of non-dairy milk drinks has increased by 25%. It really surprised me. In addition, in one of my previous posts on this topic, I speculated about the reasons for why certain populations may have developed the mutation that allows them to digest lactose, and thought it might be because milk consumption, in the past, was in fact (at least sort of) necessary/beneficial to survival. I was thinking along the lines of there being no supermarkets, living off the land — you catch my drift.
However, in the article (and this concerns Sweden), it says that during the first half of the 19th century, drinking milk wasn’t considered to be economic: only little children and sick people drank it. Milk was for making cheese and butter for the cold winter months (and, those products are usually better tolerated by those who are lactose intolerant). It wasn’t until the second half of the 19th century, when industries started to bloom, that the “milk revolution” really started to gather momentum. Milk was found to be a superior drink compared to the alternatives, which consisted of beer, other malts, and hard liquor. It made the army stronger, and it caused people to be more likely to meet current nutritional recommendations.
1 – Of course it’s healthier than booze when we’re talking about something you’d drink every day (probably several times a day).
2 – Of course the military will fight better sober, and of course (presuming that they’re very active) they would benefit from a drink that contained energy and nutrients.
3 – Yeah. We’re talking about the 1800’s here. This is pure speculation but yes, I do believe that times were harder and that getting enough food may have been more of a problem than it is now. Thus, along the same lines of the military argument, a drink with energy and nutrients would be a good supplement. And, they didn’t produce any other equivalent drinks at that time (I think).
Now, society has changed in a lot of different ways. One reason for why milk consumption decreased during the 1980s was because we started to have more and more access to foreign foods and cuisines where dairy products aren’t staple goods. Now, from an environmental standpoint, one may question importing foods. Yet all the same, we can now grow foods in climates where it before wasn’t possible, partly due to climate change, and partly due to technological advances such as greenhouses. We have evolved, and now have the tools needed to produce a drink that can be used where cow’s milk was once the only alternative, but now with a nutritional profile developed for humans beyond infancy.
To address oat milk a little bit more, since that’s what the commotion concerns: in Sweden, and certainly many countries around here such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Norway, Finland, Denmark bla bla bla: growing oats is a splendid idea. The climate is right, the output/input ratio is fabulous, and – again -, it is formulated for human consumption. Oatly’s fact page about their products is in English — take a look. Also Oatly’s response to the charges from the dairy corporations is available online, though in Swedish.
The article that prompted me to write this ended with a comparison of nutritional profiles – I think it can be deciphered, despite the language.