It’s a deceptively simple question that is becoming increasingly harder to answer. If the milk you are drinking isn’t coming straight from the cow…is it really milk?
Milk from the grocery store already goes through a variety of processes: pasteurization, homogenization, ultra-pasteurization, etc. And now, Coca-Cola has gotten into the milk business, under their “Fairlife” division – and introduced a new term: Ultra-Filtered. They are touting this “ultra-filtered milk” product as the better-than-real-milk “milk,” with more proteins, less sugar, and no lactose.
In reality, it appears that this new “ultra-filtered milk” is as far from real milk as you can get in our current agro-industrial age. Essentially, this is milk that is being “filtered” into what Fairlife calls the “Five components of milk” – “water, minerals, lactose, protein, and fat,” and then recombined in whichever formula the company has created for their “ultra-filtered milks.” As a Coca-Cola rep explained in a USA Today article, that means “50% more protein and 30% less sugar than regular milk” as well as making it lactose-free.
That means the milk is being processed, at a minimum, of 7 different times: once for each of their five filters, once to recombine those components into their new “milk” formula, and again to pasteurize the milk as well. (I’m assuming that they are combining the homogenization process in with their “recombining” process.)
Do you know how many times milk fresh from the farm is filtered? ONCE. With a cheesecloth or simple mesh filtration system just to make sure nothing from the barn got into the milk during the milking. And while sure, it’s still got all the sugar fresh, whole milk has naturally, it is in a form that is accessible and usable by our bodies. As is the protein, minerals, fat, and even lactose. While I was not able to find any studies on this new “ultra-filtered” processessing system for milk – based on the fact that our bodies utilize the fat in non-homogenized whole milk much better than the fat in milk which has been homogenized (a process that separates the fat from the rest of the milk, then recombines it) – I have to wonder if our natural bodies would really be able to use any of the components of a milk that has been completely broken down and then reconstituted?
All this doesn’t even begin to take into consideration the “sustainability” of the dairy farms Fairlife is trying to tout, the diet of the dairy cows (which they say is grown on the farm, but fail to say what standards are used in doing so), or even the use of antibiotics or growth hormones for those cows.
Long story short, regardless of if you get your milk directly from the farmer, the grocery store, a local grocer, or Coca-Cola – look beyond the buzz words on the label and find out what they actually mean, and what that means for you and your family.