Skim milk is a great, big lie, just as you always suspected

Mar 31, 2016 at 4:56 p.m. ET
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A Florida court dropped the mic on skim milk today after it ruled against Ocheesee Creamery in a court case dating back to 2012. The dairy took issue with Florida's labeling laws, which state that the translucent, vaguely milk-flavored water otherwise knows as skim milk must clearly have an "imitation milk product" label on it unless vitamins are added back in after the skimming process.

The dairy argued that consumers understand that skim milk is just milk with the milk fat skimmed off, so they should be able to skip the unappetizing disclaimer, to which the court basically said, "Exactly." They clarified that because consumers don't understand that skim milk isn't even milk — a designation reserved for milk that has the vitamins found in milk fat. They assume they're getting a milk product when they are in fact getting a glass full of lies.

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This is bad news for skim milk lovers, of course, which is OK, because no one really loves skim milk. Skim milk is a burden, and mostly you drink it only because you want to do stuff like make smoothies with dairy or drink six lattes a day without consuming inordinate amounts of fat, which makes those things OK, right?

Turns out if you cut full-fat milk to slim down or because everyone knows that skim is better for you than whole milk is, you've been gagging down the stuff needlessly for ages.

As nutritionists begin to rethink fatty foods and sort fats into "good" and "bad," it would appear that the evidence is mounting in fat's favor. That doesn't hold true just for a meal of salmon and avocado. Some of this evidence supports whole milk as a healthier choice too.

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In fact, a study in 2013 compared full-fat and no-fat milk drinkers and found that not only did literally none of the research suggest low-fat dairy is better, but high-fat dairy is less likely to contribute to obesity than low-fat dairy is. We'll give you a moment to curse your middle school health teacher, who is probably the reason you subjected yourself to way too many years of barely palatable moo juice.

Count it among the number of things that are good for you one day and bad for you the next, but this new research appears to be sticking this time around. The idea is that a calorie isn't universal and that calories devoid of nutrients (like what you'd find in imitation milk product) are no better — and in fact could be worse dietary-wise — than those that have nutrients (what you'd find in whole milk).

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If this is shattering your worldview, you're not alone. Personally, if I could afford it, I would hire not a housekeeper or chef, but a full-time barista who would live in my kitchen and make me lattes until my heart finally collapsed. To combat my crazy, dairy-heavy habit, I've been buying gallons of skim for years, and I'm not sure my family has ever even tasted another kind of milk. The real kind.

So much time wasted. So many lattes that might have been creamier. So much lost.

Because at the end of the day, I always knew. I knew this was not milk, but garbage milk, and yet down it went, a vehicle for what I really wanted: double-strength shots of espresso. I drank it, and I bought it, but deep down this was me:

Image: Giphy

Now at least we all have an excuse to eschew gross imitation milk in favor of the real thing.