How to choose the healthiest, most sustainable milk alternative

October 1, 2018 by  
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Scientists agree that the dairy industry has an overall negative affect on the environment. For starters, it takes a lot of land, fertilizer and water to grow food for the cows. It also takes a lot of energy to process raw milk , package it and deliver the goods to supermarkets around the world. Then, there is the fact that cows generate loads of methane, which is more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. With the dairy industry disrupting the environment, more people are turning to alternative sources to meet their dietary needs. There are a variety of milk alternatives on the market these days, including almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, oat milk, soy milk and pea protein milk — each with its pros and cons. If you are considering ditching cow’s milk for something more sustainable, here is a quick guide to the best milk alternatives and how they impact the environment . Related: Vegan diets deliver more environmental benefits than sustainable dairy or meat Almond Milk Almonds feature a plethora of health benefits, including good fats, flavonoids and protein. Almond milk, on the other hand, does not include the same amount of nutrients. In fact, many of the benefits found in almonds are not present in almond milk, because it only contains about 2 percent of almonds. While it might not compare to regular almonds, this milk does not have a lot of calories and is usually fortified with additional calcium and vitamins. That said, you have to be careful when purchasing almond milk, because many products are not fortified and provide little nutritional value. Although almond milk seems like a great milk alternative, its environmental impact is fairly high. The biggest problem with almonds is that they require a lot of water to produce. On average, it takes a little over a gallon of water to grow a single almond. Even worse, many almond growers are located in California , which has suffered extreme droughts over the past few years. Related: DIY vegan almond feta cheese Coconut Milk Like almond milk, coconut milk does not feature as many nutritional benefits as you might think. Aside from being low in calories, coconut milk features little on the vitamin and protein front. It also has a watery texture and does not pair well with other foods. Fortunately, companies fortify coconut milk to make it healthier, making it a viable milk alternative. Another positive aspect of coconut milk is that it has a very low environmental impact. The farms are eco-friendly and use small amounts of water to produce coconuts. Coconut trees can also filter out carbon dioxide, which is great for combating greenhouse gases . The transportation and processing are the only environmental impacts to consider in the production of coconuts. Rice Milk Rice is farmed all over the globe and requires a lot of water to produce. The plus side is that there are new varieties that make farming rice less damaging to the environment. The downside is that a lot of modern varieties are genetically modified, which many countries have deemed unsafe. There is also the risk of arsenic contamination in rice paddies. When it comes to taste and texture, rice milk is about as close as you can get to cow’s milk. It is naturally sweet and pairs well with cereal or cookies. It is a little more watery than traditional milk, but its sweet flavor makes it a good milk alternative. Rice milk is also good for people who suffer from lactose or nut allergies, and it can be fortified to include more vitamins and calcium. It is, however, low in protein. Related: DIY gluten-free flours with a coffee grinder Hemp Milk There are a lot of health benefits associated with hemp milk. This milk contains plenty of protein and important fatty acids. These fats are good for improving the cardiovascular system, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and fortifying skin. The one downside to hemp milk is that a lot of the nutrients are stripped away in the production process, although plenty still remain to make this a healthy milk alternative. As far as the environment is concerned, hemp production is actually quite eco-friendly. This plant is hardy, meaning less pesticides and sprays are needed to combat weeds. Hemp also helps fight global warming by filtering out carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Just about every part of the hemp plant is usable, resulting in less waste than other plants on this list. Oat Milk Oats have long been used to fight bad cholesterol, and these same nutrients are present in oak milk. The only catch is that you have to consume a handful of servings every day to get the benefits. While oat milk also contains B vitamins, it does not have as much protein and minerals as other milk alternatives. There are companies, however, that fortify oat milk, which adds in extra vitamins. Like most plant-based milks, it takes a lot of energy to turn oats into milk. Oats, however, contribute less carbon to the atmosphere than other plants and require less water to grow. For example, it takes six times as much water to grow almonds than it does oats. This lessens the environmental hazards in the oat industry, making it a sustainable milk alternative. Soy Milk The nutritional value of soy milk is close to cow’s milk. It has plenty of macronutrients, carbohydrates and fat. The main difference is that it does not have large concentrations of iodine, B vitamins, calcium or lactose. Soy is a plant product, so sugar is added to make it sweeter (there are unsweetened options on the market). The main downside to soy, however, is its negative environmental impact. Soy requires massive chunks of land and pesticides to produce. This crop is also genetically modified to better withstand various growing conditions and combat pests. There are large areas of the Amazon rainforest that are being destroyed in order to grow soy. If you think soy is a viable alternative to traditional milk in your diet, consider purchasing organic brands that are produced only in the U.S. Pea Protein Milk With the amount of protein per glass matching cow’s milk, pea protein milk is a healthy alternative to dairy. It also boasts enough omega-3s and calcium to rival traditional milk. Unsweetened options contain a fraction of the sugars found in milk, but the chalky, flour-like taste of pea protein milk will leave many choosing a sweetened option. Still, this amount of protein in an alternative milk is hard to come by. Better yet, pea protein milk is a great option for eco-conscious consumers. Peas can often grow without irrigation and are easily rotated by farmers, naturally fixing nitrogen in soil and reducing the need for artificial fertilizers. Growing peas requires up to six times less water than almonds, and this milk alternative has a much smaller carbon footprint than dairy. Via Sierra Club , Grist , Huffington Post  and NPR Images via  Adrienne Leonard , Nathan Dumlao , Vegan Feast Catering , Raw Pixel ,  Nikolai Chernichenko and Shutterstock

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How to choose the healthiest, most sustainable milk alternative

Researchers find that LED light makes milk taste bad

August 16, 2016 by  
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Milk that has been sitting under LED lightbulbs does not do the taste buds good, new research finds. Cornell University taste tests revealed that consumers find two week old milk shielded from the light preferable to fresh milk exposed to LED light for as little as four hours. As grocery stores are turning to more efficient lighting, this creates a problem for dairy industries. “For some reason we love to look across the store and see this glowing case of milk that’s shining bright,” said Robin Dando, assistant professor at Cornell University’s Department of Food Science and senior author of the study. “It’s attractive to look at, but we might actually be damaging the quality of the product.” Exposure to sunlight and artificial light sources is known to affect the quality and taste of milk. LED’s unique effects could be causing problems as grocers switch to more energy-saving lighting methods. Related: New pea-based milk uses 93 percent less water than dairy equivalent LED lighting typically emits in the blue spectrum and influences how the nutrient riboflavin absorbs light. Riboflavin, as well as other photosensitive components, degrades the proteins in milk and oxidizes the fats, leading to a taste some describe as similar to cardboard or plastic . Cornell’s study revealed that customers were turned off by fresh milk exposed to LED light for as little as four hours, as compared to milk up to two weeks old that had been hidden from LED effects. Nicole Martin, lead author of the study and supervisor of the Milk Quality Improvement Program laboratory at Cornell said, “This study shows that light exposure is a much greater factor explaining deteriorating milk quality than even age.” Via  Morning Ag Clips Images via Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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New 3D-printed bottle caps can tell us when our milk has gone bad

July 23, 2015 by  
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When making a bowl of cereal or a cup of tea, many of us have exactly the same reflex; we sniff the milk. Perfectly sensible, you don’t want to ruin your morning with sour dairy—but no one really wants a nose full of stinky milk either. A new 3D-printed bottle cap that detects bacteria could not only save us from nasal distress, but also help us reduce both food waste and sickness. Read the rest of New 3D-printed bottle caps can tell us when our milk has gone bad

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Bucolic Vejlskovgaard Stable is Like Club Med for 300 Dairy Cows in Denmark

January 8, 2013 by  
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Read the rest of Bucolic Vejlskovgaard Stable is Like Club Med for 300 Dairy Cows in Denmark Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: club med for dairy cows , dairy cows , Daylighting , Denmark , Design , eco design , farm , milk , natural light , Odder , sustainable design , Vejlskovgaard Stable , ventilation

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Bucolic Vejlskovgaard Stable is Like Club Med for 300 Dairy Cows in Denmark

Physicians Group Asks USDA to Remove Milk from School Lunches

July 29, 2012 by  
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Earlier this month, the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), filed a petition asking the USDA to remove milk as a required food from the national school lunch program. The PCRM petition argues that milk should not be included as part of a healthy school lunch because one in eight Americans is lactose intolerant, there is limited proof that milk improves bone health or reduces the risk of osteoporosis, and because dairy can lead to other health risks, among other reasons. READ MORE > Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Dairy , dairy allergy , health problems , lactose intolerant , milk , milk allergy , national school lunch program , osteoporosis , Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine , school lunch , vitamin d

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