Taken in Los Angeles while I was there for my brother’s wedding, a very welcome sight, thank you very much.

Just how far are the hands of the dairy industry now that they are no longer on the cow’s teats?  The answer is pretty deep down in corporate and government pockets.

I was taking an early childhood education class called “Health, Safety and Nutrition”  last year.  I was jazzed to find out that there was a program from the USDA that would reimburse a school program for feeding the children healthy meals at school.  Sounds great right? Children learn about food, eat healthy meals of vegetables and fruits, participate in its preparation and discover the wonders of the natural world. Syke!  Too bad all things government have G I A N T problems. The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) serves food to young and old alike in day cares, schools and elderly facilities.

The basic low down:  in order to receive federal reimbursement you must serve milk at every meal– that is breakfast, lunch and dinner with an option for one half of a snack.  It was not until 1/9/2015 that any option for alternative milks were acceptable.  The update states: “Allowing non‐dairy milk substitutions that are nutritionally equivalent to milk to be served if requested in writing by a child’s parent or guardian or an adult participant,” from a summary of changes to the program. This press release marks that first time any changes have been made to the program since it started in 1968.  Good one guys- that’s not since pocket calculators were first sold or Teddy Ruxpin or Walkman’s or TiVO or any and all tweets.

So if I am at the beginning or end of my life I am at the mercy of milk in my cup unless someone cares enough about me to write a letter on my behalf to allow me to fill said cup with coconut, almond, soy, hemp, oat, hazelnut or rice milk.  I know I don’t need to remind you of all the problems cow’s milk.  Michael Klaper MD put it in Cowspiracy, the Sustainability Secret quite succinctly, “Cow’s milk IS baby calf growth fluid.”  Period.  Check that link it’s chalk full of more funny stuff like this “Whether you pour it on your cereal as a liquid, churn it into butter, curdle it into yogurt, ferment it into cheese, or add sugar and freeze it to make ice cream… It’s baby calf growth fluid!”  Duh.

Seems simple enough to me, if I wouldn’t or haven’t gladly sucked on the teat- it aint for me.  I don’t know about you but I am not looking to gain 200 pounds in the near future to become a full blown cow.  Nor does my body have the ability to break it all down and use it, because my mother is now a cow.

Dairy is also quite intermeshed with the meat industry.  They provide meat via two sources; the baby calfs that they steal from their mothers so we can drink their milk instead and sell as veal  and the milk cows that are too old or sick to produce enough milk anymore and are sent to slaughter.  Yum.  No wait actually- yuck.

So back to our mid morning snack and what’s on the table.  To do that we need to talk dollars and cents.  Literally.  Below is the reimbursement rates for centers for the 2014-15 year taken here.  Apparently it is updated each year to reflect increase in costs, but not really passing on too many savings.

Centers Breakfast Lunch and supper1 Snack
[Per meal rates in whole or fractions of U.S. dollars effective from July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015]
Contiguous states:
Paid 0.28 0.28 0.07
Reduced price 1.32 2.58 0.41
Free 1.62 2.98 0.82

Now lets look at a gallon of milk at $3.82 versus almond milk at around $2.99 for a half gallon (rounding to $6 for a gallon) and you can see why most centers would not be inclined to write that letter that they now can write in the first place.  Because let’s face it, what center can afford to write that letter?

On top of that trying to serve organic food to children and find things locally and in season it’s hard to you keep up with the weekly menu postings for the measly bit of change you will get back.

So thats it dairy, you have done a great job of borrowing like a gopher down into the folds of the government and getting fat off a poorly educated population who listen to their doctors who are trained by people with have a vested interest in having people do what they are told.  And then have the audacity to stick their heads up and look at you, and even look cute doing it, all the while taking every last root that makes your yard look like a place you want to be.  Then fancy it all up with some ads of celebrities with milk mustaches or talks of happy cows and we can’t forget that it does a body good.

No thanks, pass the coconut milk please.  And you can even make your own at home.

So lets be good to our bodies, good to our planet, good to our water supply and good to all living beings and say moove over milk there are other drinks in town.

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