Non-dairy milk is the new normal. Gone are the days when a few cartons of soy milk, or maybe almond milk, were relegated to the back shelf at the back of the bodega. It is now perfectly normal to cream one’s coffee with various types of milk made from plants, nuts, and grains.
One-third of all American households consume some type of non-dairy milk. The list of alternate ‘milks’ is long and growing. Options include coconut, soy, rice, almond, hemp, barley, cashew, and the ever-popular oat milk. At the same time, the Dairy Farmers of America reported a $1.1 billion drop in sales between 2017 and 2018 (from $14.7 billion to $13.6 billion), while the Plant Based Food Association reported a 9% increase in sales of nut- and plant-based milk, reaching total sales of $1.6 billion in 2018.
What does it take to be considered milk?
Some people scoff at the idea that the white liquid that is extracted from plants, nuts, and grains is actually ‘milk’. The dairy industry has gone as far as asking the FDA to prevent non-dairy products from being labeled as milk. Though their case was heard, there has been little headway with this effort, especially at the circuit court level.
The reality is that all of these milks were originally used as alternate creamers for coffee. I would argue that without a thriving coffee culture in the U.S., we would not have such a burgeoning market of earth-based creamer options. It is truly a wonderful thing.
In fact, the alternate milk consumption craze first took hold in cafes and coffee-shops, before becoming available in the corner supermarket. Several years ago, almond milk (huge source of vitamin A) was a big deal, and then came the oat milk craze (what a delicious experience), and now hemp milk is having its day in the sun.
Hemp--courtesy of cannabis sativa
Hemp is a non-psychoactive part of the cannabis sativa plant. It is a nutrition powerhouse, containing magnesium, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin B1, and protein. It’s widely sold in stores across the country, especially on the coasts, and you can view a how-to video on YouTube, so you can make your own hemp milk with raw seeds, any sweetener you want to use, and, of course, cheesecloth.
Hemp is known not only for being protein-rich, but for having a protein that contains all the essential amino acids that humans need from food. In fact, gram for gram, hemp seeds are naturally higher in protein than beef. It is also high in omega 3 and omega 6, with related benefits for skin and cardiovascular health.
And then there is the taste. It is creamy, nutty, and even buttery---and most important, it’s really good in coffee. I tried hemp milk for the first time last month while out with friends for my birthday. It was an amazing experience all around. Check out our video below. Keep drinking coffee. Happy PRIDE!