Dare to Compare This June Dairy Month

May 21, 2021

June Dairy Month is an annual celebration that honors farmers for the delicious dairy foods they produce.  The designation also highlights the important health benefits that milk, cheese, and yogurt deliver.  Loaded with calcium, vitamin D, protein, and phosphorus, dairy foods contribute significant nutrition to American’s diets.

Although today’s spotlight falls on a wide variety of nutritious dairy foods, the very first dairy celebration focused solely on milk for a more practical reason. Created in 1937, National Milk Month’s goal was to distribute extra milk that cows typically produce during summer time. By 1939, the name officially changed to June Dairy month.   

With a nod to June Dairy Month’s practical origins, St. Louis District Dairy Council is encouraging consumers to take the Dare to Compare Challenge this June Dairy Month.  Today’s dairy case is literally exploding with choices – everything from new milk flavors to lactose-free milks. However, it also contains plant-based beverages disguised as milk. With so many options and attention-grabbing labels, it is easy to walk away from the dairy case very confused. 

Gone are the days when the most complicated choice you had to make in the dairy aisle was reduced fat or whole milk. Now you can find cartons of dairy-like beverages made from foods you never thought could be “milked” – like soybeans, almonds, coconuts, oats, and peas. When it comes to milk, almost half of American consumers are confused about dairy milk and alternative non-dairy beverages. In fact, some mistakenly believe that plant based beverages contain the same nutrients that cow’s milk does. 

In a world where clean eating is popular, milk is simple and natural, without the added sugars, flavorings, or stabilizers that are often found in many imitation dairy beverages. Dairy milk is naturally nutrient rich and has just three ingredients – milk, vitamin A, and vitamin D. Compare milk with some of the non-dairy drinks on the market.  The list of added ingredients and the nutrient profiles of those drinks don’t measure up to milk.

Substituting a non-dairy beverage for the real deal can lead to gaps in essential nutrients, specifically calcium, Vitamin D, and potassium.  These are three of the four nutrients frequently under consumed by Americans. They are labeled by health professionals as “nutrients of concern” because low intakes are associated with chronic diseases.  By enjoying three servings of dairy daily, Americans can help close that nutrient gap and lower the risk of chronic illness. Not to mention a cup of real milk provides 8 grams of high quality protein, something not always found in the same amount of non-dairy drinks.

When it comes to cost and nutrition, we really dare you to compare the difference these drinks have on your budget.  Milk is a fraction of the cost of non-dairy alternatives.  You just get more bang for your buck, both nutritionally and fiscally, when you go with real milk.  Alternative beverages vary in nutrient quality, quantity, and price from one brand to the next.  But milk is consistent and affordable every time.

Join in the Dare to Compare Challenge this June Dairy Month. Read and compare nutrition labels, ingredient lists, and price tags to make a well-informed choice. Work towards closing the nutrient gap by having three servings of real dairy every day.


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