If That’s a Dairy Product, then I’m the Cookie Monster

half and halfSome things in life should be sacrosanct. McDonalds French fries. Mom’s pot roast. Guinness. York peppermint patties. Half and half for my coffee.

Well, good job, lab-based dairy science people, and your corporate lackey National Dairy Council. You really screwed the pooch with this one: Fat-Free Half & Half.

The concept of half & half is genius. One half of the beverage is real, full-flavored cow’s milk. Milk- it does a body good. The other half is cream; real cream that provides an unctuous mouth-coating fatty texture to coffee unmatched by any other product.

What did the Dairy Industry food scientists do? They conveniently changed the product, but didn’t tell anyone. It’s half milk – skim milk – but the other ‘half’ is a bunch of glop designed to mimic the texture of cream. What’s in the glop? Nothing terrible, except, except, it’s NOT CREAM.

  • Corn syrup – I don’t want to debate the health issues of high fructose corn syrup. I don’t care that much about what you think. But corn syrup in my coffee? Just to get the skim milk to feel vaguely like cream in my mouth? I’d rather eat burnt toast scrapings with a spoon from the dog’s bowl.
  • Artificial color – Gotta make that corn syrup look cream-y. Gotta make the milk look milkier, because goodness knows skim milk and corn syrup do not look any too milky.
  • Sugar – As if corn syrup wasn’t sweet enough. Let’s take the fat out, pump the sugar in. Gack.
  • Dipotassium phosphate – It’s used in the food industry to keep stuff from clumping together. It’s not dangerous. But here’s a thought, Dairy Industry People. If you need K2HPO4 in a food product as simple as MILK + CREAM to keep the glop from sticking together during processing and shipping and storage, maybe you should rethink the stuff in your glop.
  • Sodium citrate – there are three different citrates used in the food industry. They are not harmful. NaH2C6H5O7 is in the bottom of the test tubes used by lab techs when blood is drawn. The salt prevents coagulation and spoilage. Let me just say that we’ve used milk and cream with great joy for a long time before anyone worried about the addition of sodium citrate to ‘improve’ the product. Trust me, I taught chemistry. And I have a Master’s degree.
  • Mono- and di-glycerides – These are synthetic fats (yes, you read that properly- they take the fat out, but they gotta put some back in) made from glycerol that act as emulsifiers. Think about making oil and vinegar salad dressing. Oil and vinegar just aren’t that friendly, chemically speaking. Your vinaigrette won’t stay mixed. Add a few dabs of mustard or mayo, and suddenly it’s like everyone is back on speaking terms. In short, emulsifiers help keep everything properly mixed. See sodium citrate and dipotassium phosphate for the original rant.
  • Carrageenan –It’s a thickener, necessary because the skim milk isn’t thick enough to fool the tongue, and a stabilizer. Again, the dairy industry has gotta keep their glop properly mixed.
  • Natural and artificial flavors – Since they’re not using any milk that has any flavor, and no cream at all, they gotta add flavor back into the milk-glop. Fake milk flavor. Quality choices? Um, no.
  • Vitamin A palmitate – when you remove the fat from milk, and don’t bother to use cream, you also remove the vitamin A. Better put it back in and make this stuff healthy again.

What really frosts my cookies is the mendacity.

The rat-bastards  of the dairy industry have changed the definition of half and half. It’s half milk, true enough. But the other half is corn syrup glop. It is a glop that leaves behind a coating on my tongue that reminds me of the time I was on antibiotics and as a result, developed a fungal infestation that turned my mouth white and fuzzy.

One serving of real, honest-to-cowness half and half is a tablespoon. A TB of cream weighs about fifteen grams. Seven freakin’ pennies weigh fifteen grams. That’s twenty calories. I drink two cups of coffee a day. Over a year, that’s 14,600 calories. That’s twenty hours on my bike. Time well-spent.

There are still plenty of timeless half-and-halfs out there; the Arnold Palmer and the Guinness-Harp combination come to mind, but thanks for nothing, National Dairy Council food science bean counter people.

Half skim milk, and half corn syrup thickener glop. If you buy this farrago of food industry cast-offs, I’d like to know if you know that it’s barely a dairy product.

Because if fat-free half & half is a dairy product, then I’m going to start planting cow patties in the garden with the expectation that I’ll have some calves pop up in late June.

Would you drink this stuff? Tell me about it on the Dads Roundtable Facebook page.

NOTE: I love farmers. I love dairy farmers. This has nothing to do with them, and everything to do with a dollar-driven food science decision.


The Beginning
About David Stanley

Teacher & science guy, writer, musician, coach, skier and bike racer, I am interested… in everything; your story, food & spirits and music and everything in the natural world, spirit & sport. My son is 22 and still needs his Dad. I am 56 and so do I.
I blog on life and death, cancer and sports, kids and education at http://dstan58.blogspot.com/

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