When one thinks of milk alternatives — or “imitation” milk — soy, hemp and almond varieties are a few that may come to mind. According to the state of Florida, however, skim milk should also be included on the list.
The Associated Press reports that Ocheesee Creamery in Calhoun County, Florida, has been directed by the state to call its all-natural skim milk from grass-fed cows “imitation” milk because it lacks the same amount of vitamins as its full-fat counterpart. Dairy farmers Paul and Mary Lou Wesselhoeft took the discussion to the courts three years ago and are still battling the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs over the issue.
During a court hearing last week, state lawyer Ashley Davis argued that there is an expectation from consumers for whole milk and skim milk to offer the same nutritional value, and since the Wesselhoefts’ product loses vitamins when fat is extracted, it is “nutritionally inferior.” The Wesselhoefts do not add anything to their milk as part of their all-natural philosophy.
Judge Robert Hinkle doesn’t appear to buy Davis’s argument and counters with the fact that the inclusion of the word “imitation” may even be misleading to consumers. “It’s hard to call this imitation milk. It came right out of the cow,” the AP quotes Hinkle as saying. “Anyone who reads ‘imitation skim milk’ would think it didn’t come out of a cow.”
We did some of our own sleuthing. Webster’s dictionary defines “skim milk” as “milk from which cream has been removed.” It also defines “imitate” as “to be or appear like.” If we were to base the definition of skim milk on the information Webster has provided us, wouldn’t adding vitamins to skim milk to ensure it has the same amount of nutrients as whole milk in fact produce “imitation” milk? Not that we’d like to think of something we’ve been consuming for years as “imitation” anything.