Politics & Policy

For Fun: FDA Attacks Almond “Milk”; Is Peanut “Butter” Next?

photo by P. A. Jensen

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is trying to protect you from mistaking almond milk for cow milk. One immediately sees the urgency: almond milk can come from a cow, at least if a local 4H-er names her cow Almond.

Rural Americans are wondering how far removed from agriculture we’ve become if stuff like this is a problem.

Jibran Khan at National Review notes that the term “milk” in “almond milk” is similar to the use, or perhaps misuse, of the word “butter” in “peanut butter.” Dare I say that, just as no one thinks almond milk comes from cows, no one thinks that peanut butter is made by churning the cream that comes from a lactating Mrs. Peanut.

The FDA strictly defines milk as a product exclusively of cows, meaning that any sustenance that Mrs. Peanut produced for her little peanuts would not qualify as “milk,” nor would any “lacteal secretion” from any other mammal, including goats, sheep, or (not to make a parallel comparison, of course) your mother. It seems that “goat milk,” “sheep milk,” or “mother’s milk” are as confusing as “almond milk” or “pea milk,” which is to say not at all.

Milk from these animals would have to be marketed as what, juice? I don’t see “goat juice” taking off, marketing-wise. (Maybe a homophone, like “melk,” might catch on.)

Also, if the logic of the FDA were to extend past the dairy aisle, peanut farmers should be especially worried: peanuts are not indeed “nuts” (they are technically legumes), nor are they “peas.” Don’t tell the FDA that they are focusing on small potatoes, as the peanut is guilty of a more heinous double-foul.

“Pea”-“nut” “butter?” We’re approaching felony territory.

As Elizabeth Nolan Brown at Reason notes, the United States Senate has entered the fray. A proposed bipartisan amendment to keep the FDA out of almond udders was recently defeated by a vote of 84-14. She notes that a staunch opponent of the amendment was, unsurprisingly, Senator Tammy Baldwin, the Democrat from Wisconsin, the state that emblazons its license plates with “America’s Dairyland.” Of note, Baldwin is up for reelection this fall.

Don’t worry, Americans: if you’ve been confusing almond milk for cow milk, the FDA has you covered. (To continue) to be glib, focus now turns to Americans trying to make butter out of face cream, tightening bolts with do-nuts, or avoiding Danish pastries out of fear of cannibalism.

In sum, the dairy lobby has buttered up the FDA, and they’ve gone nutty. Don’t try to stop them, though—as several U.S. senators found out, they’ll cream you.




P. A. Jensen is editor at RuralityCheck.com

He lives in northern Minnesota with his wife and son.

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