Not surprisingly, I sometimes feel I am obsessed with milk on our farm and household. I haul it, pour it, feed it to calves from a bottle, watch it stream from our cows’ udders into the milking system and listen to it get pumped into a tanker every other day.
Then, I haul it in 2-gallon pails to our home pasteurizer, cool it, pour it into containers for two homes, place it on the table and put it back into the refrigerator, time and again.
Our milk is delicious because it is fresh and pure with a nice amount of fat and protein from our cows. People compliment the milk served in our house, and then we realize we take it for granted.
    Lots of us grew up drinking milk at every meal and pouring it on top of our breakfast cereal. Now that doesn’t happen in many households for a variety of reasons.
Yet most grocery shoppers still put cow’s milk in their carts along with butter, cheese, yogurt, ice cream and even more dairy. People now enjoy eating more of their dairy rather than drinking it. Still, I believe fluid milk innovations will lead people to drink their milk beyond the traditional ways.
People look to dairy for different reasons, but this is the main one: “Dairy foods are a delicious, wholesome source of protein. Whether you choose white milk, chocolate milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt or greek-style yogurt, all contain high-quality protein to help fuel us through the day.”
That’s the banner statement on the Midwest Dairy website. The challenge is how to tap into this when creating and marketing new milks.
People now eat on the go. They seek healthy options for muscle rebuilding and hydration before or after workouts. They want ways to fuel their bodies during their busy days, even seeking attributes such as improving gut health in their drinks. They also like coffee drinks or cool smoothies for a treat.
So, if we think about the transformation in eating habits people have made, does drinking cow’s milk still have a place? If you check for new beverages on the market that contain milk, whey, cream, no lactose, added protein, various flavors, A2 milk, and a boost of prebiotics or probiotics, it certainly seems that transformed milk is becoming suited to what people are seeking.
Peering into the beverage cases at a grocery or in convenience stores gives you instant insight into the variety of appealing new products.
To focus on the positive story of milk that we all work hard to produce every day, I thought it would be fun to highlight a few of those options that are redefining fluid milk that we in the barn might not know about.
Good Sport is a new sports drink containing milk components that is naturally sourced and has three times the electrolytes and one-third of the sugar of traditional sports drinks. It is described as “scientifically-proven to provide rapid and long-lasting hydration by harnessing the electrolytes and carbohydrates found in milk.” It has B vitamins, glucose and galactose to improve fluid absorption and calcium for stronger bones and powerful muscle function. I will provide it in a cooler for the hot, humid days of preparing and covering the bunker silos this summer to see how it works in that situation.
More intriguing new milk-based options are found at Taco Bell. This spring, that chain unveiled a shelf-stable creamer to use in their coffee drinks, Pineapple Whip Freeze and Island Berry Freeze beverages, developed with support from national dairy checkoff food scientists. The freezes sound like a refreshing summer treat to sip while enjoying their other offerings containing lots of cheese. Taco Bell’s new Cinnabon-flavored iced or hot coffee using the milk base sounds delicious to me.
Another new milk option is called siips, a Dairy Farmers of America product. It is sold as an 8-ounce can of flavored lowfat milk. The online marketing calls out its appeal: “Protein for power. Calcium for bones. And ridiculously indulgent flavors just for fun. It’s smooth and sweet. Nourishing you at your best.” It comes in chocolate, caramel and mocha flavors.
A favorite offering that I enjoy while watching my fat intake is Chobani coffee creamer. I use it sparingly to make special coffee at home and will try it in my iced coffee this summer. It has only 1.5 grams of fat and 30 calories per serving and comes in several enticing flavors.
There is evidence, however, that younger folks are looking more toward full-fat natural milk and cream, so that is yet another fluid market to tap.
Though everyone seems to enjoy good, old-fashioned, ice-cold chocolate milk as an appealing treat, some of these new options sound delicious. They are made with milk, so let’s drink up.    
    Jean dairy farms with her husband, Rolf, and brother-in-law, Mike, and children Emily, Matthias and Leif. They farm near St. Peter, Minnesota, in Norseland, where she is still trying to fit in with the Norwegians and Swedes. They milk 200 cows and farm 650 acres. She can be reached at jeanannexstad@gmail.com.