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Alternative Milks

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Milk is milk is milk, as Gertrude Stein never said. And that was true for thousands of years. But not anymore. Modern-day food chemists can tinker with the components of milk and build new versions to their specifications. Not just one, but two radically different examples have recently appeared on the web.

How alternative is "a.m."? The letters stand for Alternative Milk. Developed by food nutritionist Dr. David Holmes, president of Sumner Foods, a.m. starts with cow’s milk but then takes a left turn. The protein is 90% whey and only 10% casein, almost the opposite of cow’s milk, and much closer to the balance in human milk. The saturated milk fat is removed and replaced with canola or soybean oil. Vitamins and minerals have been added, and the calcium/phosphorous ratio has been jiggled to be the same as in human milk.

And 90% of the lactose is removed, replaced by a complex of other sugars, mostly the fruit sugar fructose. (Why not remove 100% of the lactose? Because "Lactose promotes the proliferation of a more healthful intestinal microflora, which in turn synthesizes many vitamins such as riboflavin, pyridoxine, folic acid & biotin. Small amounts of lactose have been found to enhance the absorption of calcium, manganese, magnesium, strontium etc.")

a.m. comes powdered in foil packs that make one quart each. You can order it in regular or chocolate flavor. The only drawback right now is that you have to order it by the case, which costs $7.25, although shipping to anywhere in the continental U.S. is free. The a.m. web site is at

NutriMil, from the U. S. Food Corporation, may be even another step along the road to complete designer milk. It’s protein is all whey – liquid whey combined with whey protein concentrate. They do list sodium caseinate as an ingredient, though, so some casein is present. NutriMil is also free of cholesterol and saturated fat, which they achieve by substituting canola oil instead. There is also a Fat Free/Extra Calcium Fortified variant to go along with their original and chocolate flavors. And they use lactase enzyme to completely remove all the lactose, added fructose back to the milk.

NutriMil comes in cans that contain enough Original or Fat Free powder to make 7 quarts for $7.99. Chocolate powder cans make 6 quarts for $8.99. Their web site is at You’ll see an order form there that will allow you to call or fax an order or send it directly over the Web.

Both milks claim to be substitutable for regular cow’s milk in all types of recipes. They should work well for those who are lactose intolerant, NutriMil even more so, since it lacks even the small amount of lactose that a.m. has. But anyone with a milk allergy must still stay away from these products. Both contain both whey and casein proteins, just as cow’s milk does.

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