Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is more of a good thing really better?

In the paper this weekend I saw an ad for yet another brand of fat free milk. Now the debate as to whether or not humans should even be drinking cows’ milk, has been raging for a while. I remain in the ‘what do we really need all that milk for anyway?’ camp. Having been lactose intolerant [and I do believe that’s a curable condition by the way] I developed a dislike of milk in my early teens when I associated it with all kinds of gastrointestinal discomfort. Right now, I use milk as an ingredient in other foods when necessary but it’s been years since I’ve downed a whole glass [at least one that wasn’t liberally spiked with Hersey’s syrup] and I never drink milk with a meal. To be honest, I don’t even like to watch other people drink milk with a meal. It’s a quirk, what can I say?

In deference to my husband who is still severely lactose intolerant, we’ve been using Lactaid brand fat free milk for a while. I don’t find a significant difference in the taste or performance of the milk. Having used fat free milk most of my life, I don’t need my milk to be ‘creamy’ – I just need I to be liquid.

I’ve noticed there are dozens of brands of fat free milk available and in order to differentiate themselves they all offer something different. Some are lactose free, some are calcium fortified and this latest one I came across has added protein.

My question is, do we really need everything we eat or drink to have additives, even supposedly healthy ones? If I drink orange juice for the vitamin C, do I need it to also have extra calcium, just in case I’m not getting enough of that from my milk? Do I then need my milk to have added protein or fiber or something else, because I’m likely not getting that nutrient from the place it would normally come from?

I guess the idea is that fortifying a product with some vitamin or nutrient gives people the idea that it must be a healthier alternative for them. Clearly we can’t get all the nutrition we need from eating foods in their natural state, so they should be adulterated in order to give us a better diet.

Do you think foods that are fortified either with extra of whatever healthy nutrient they already contain or with something they don’t are better for you or are they just a marketing ploy? Do you use any of these products because you don’t think you would get that particular nutrient anywhere else?


  1. LOL, I drink oj fortified with calcium because I don't drink enough milk.

  2. Well, there you go. But you eat a lot of yogurt, don't you?

  3. Yes, I eat a lot of yogurt. BTW -- plain greek yogurt drizzled wit honey is DIVINE!