Chocolate Milk Under Siege: Should It Be Banned? - Food on Shine
If there’s one thing that most kids can agree on, it’s that chocolate milk is awesome.
Turns out a lot of parents, perhaps recalling their own childhood love of Bosco and Nesquik think so too. And most importantly, for many white-milk-averse kids, chocolate milk serves as a highly efficient, state-of-the-art calcium delivery system.
That’s why parents — and also kids, some of whom are honing their petitioning skills in the process — have whipped up a tempest in a half-pint about the latest lunchroom trend: No more chocolate milk. Schools from Washington to Wiggins to Wenatchee have removed all flavored milk from cafeterias, citing concerns about sugar consumption. And if you consider the success of Jaime Oliver’s school-food revolution, a chocolate milk fatwa, though hardly universal, was probably inevitable.
But is banning it really necessary? Depends whom you ask.
Obviously, the National Dairy Council, whose current campaign is “Raise Your Hand for Chocolate Milk,” and the Milk Processor Education program, which has backed studies showing calcium deficiency in three quarters of teens and, say no.
“There is a vocal minority looking at flavored milk from one sole angle, which is the sugar content. Parents need to consider the total nutrient package,” a Dairy Council VP recently told the New York Times.
And for every parent whose response to such bans goes something like, “Lighten up,” there’s another who says, “Are you people seriously trying to tell me chocolate milk is ‘healthy’?”
The milk sold in schools today represents 7 percent of all milk sold nationwide; and 71 percent of it is flavored. Yet overall, milk sales have been down for years, and the dairy industry has explicitly stated that flavored milk “offers opportunity for growth.”
Blarney says Janet Poppendieck, a sociology professor at Hunter College in New York and author of Free for All: Fixing School Lunch in America, she told the New York Times: “As we have had our consciousness raised about milk both flavored and unflavored, the dairy council’s efforts begin to look less angelic.”
Setting aside the question of industry interests, some experts say that when it comes to talk of calcium vs. sugar (or “total nutrient package”), the chocolate milk debate misses the larger — and much more important — issue of what and how our kids eat.