When is milk not milk?

Out of curiosity I looked up the dictionary meaning of the word “milk”. The main definitions for the noun were along similar lines to the following: “an opaque white fluid rich in fat and protein, secreted by female mammals for the nourishment of their young.”
I am curious to know why so many drinks manufactured as milk substitutes are actually described as milk, when in reality that is what they are not.
When one examines the ingredients section on the boxes one discovers how small a percentage of the named grain or nut actually goes into making the liquid. The highest levels would seem to be about 10 - 11%, with the lowest being around 2 - 3%. The first ingredient listed on the boxes is "filtered water”, with no percentage given.
It would be interesting to observe the reaction of customers if the water percentage were also to be given, and people grasped the idea that they were merely drinking flavoured water.
When one considers what it costs farmers to produce real milk, and the increasing squeeze that is being put on them by the big processing companies, and compares this with the price that customers are being asked to pay for flavoured water milk substitutes, one can only describe the situation as outrageous.
When l explored the dictionary meanings for the term “milk” a bit further, I found the following meaning for the verb:
“exploit or defraud by taking small amounts of money over a period of time.
‘executives milked the health plan’s funds for their personal use’
synonyms: exploit, take advantage of, cash in on, impose on, bleed, suck dry, fleece, squeeze, wring, blackmail”
Maybe the use of the word “milk” for flavoured water is quite appropriate after all.


Milk is not limited to the fluid produced by a mammary gland in a female animal.

Milk in biology includes the juice and sap of plant. e.g. coconut milk or thistle milk.

It is also includes the ‘An emulsion made by bruising seeds; as, the milk of almonds, produced by pounding almonds with sugar and water’. These seeds/legumes (almonds, soybean etc) are the basis for cow milk substitutes and can rightly be called milk. What the manufactures of cow’s milk can’t do is call their products ‘cow’s milk’ or milk from a mammary gland. Such would be false advertising.

The English language has a number of words which are broader than initially thought. Sugar is another example where most think the processed and refined material from sugar cane or sugar beets is sugar. Whilst it is, so are other sucrose, fructose, glucose, dextrose, galactose,lactose, etc are sweetners and these are also can be called sugar.

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I wasn’t suggesting that the word milk refers exclusively to the liquid produced by mammals to feed their young. In my first sentence I noted that the primary meaning given in online dictionaries referred to that fact. Yes, I acknowledge the word is used in other ways as well.
I think my main concern is the fact that dairy farmers receive a relative pittance for their product, when this is compared with what the public is charged for a manufactured product that is basically flavoured water.


Milk is also a somewhat manufactured product these days, and given that the protein and fat percentages are similar to soy milk etc, perhaps the flavoured water term applies equally to cow’s milk?

As an occasional cheese maker, I’ve found that many of the big manufacturers, and supermarket brands just will not make cheese. Fortunately, a local dairy has milk that reliably makes good cheese though :slight_smile:

The reason the manufactured milks don’t work much of the time is that “fresh” milk often contains long life milk- done as a means of balancing supply and demand according to an inspector in Qld. The high temperature treatment makes it unsuitable for cheese making.

However, I agree with your point about farmers not being paid enough for their produce- be it milk, veg or any other food, when supermarkets are involved in the supply chain.

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Hi I am particular abut my milk from cows. What they sell in supermarkets in price war or own brands isn’t pure milk from the cow by any means, and as already stated wont make cheese.
Since 2008 I have been able to buy pure cream milk without homogenization from local dairy who also sell cheese here and overseas. Very creamy dairy herd and their cheese is excellent so went with the milk when they started to sell it commercially.
It goes way past the 11 days given from bottling for best use by. Gone as much as 5 days over before consumed. When other milk locally - not supermarket brands - had gone off before the date and not because of fridge not being set correctly either.
Also read a survey that this old fashioned just pasturized is better for heart and from a survey of 2 countries in Europe, on data on heart attacks the one using the old fashioned milk has a lot less - not a strict way of trial but general. So dont attack this as wasn’t held out as 100%.
Anyway thing is I myself started to feel better in myself and have been able to discard a lot of meds doc had me on since 2008 when started to drink this. They say milk is good and helps our bodies rebuild cells etc and if this is correct then this milk my generation grew up with, sure beats the crappy milk most have to put up with today. No additives, just as it came from the cow and the pasteurized to get rid of TB germs which can jump from cow to human reason.
Only thing is we have to shake it daily to stop the cream from clotting or lose it. Many more are now buying it and 2 dairies locally now following suit, Soon will need supermarket to keep it in a fridge that shakes it daily as unless get it quick - need to strain the clots and lose the taste and benefit.BTW my chorlestoral has improved since 2008 with good stuff maximum so creamy milk hasn’t done me harm.
As for what they are doing to the farmers, its criminal as they cant go on being paid less than it takes to produce. Congratulations to Jacqui Lambe for her good work on this matter of under paying our farmers.