Chocolate Industry

Elise Stefanik bravely defends chocolate milk

ALBANY — In this age of ugly partisanship, it’s almost heartwarming to see politicians from both parties shamelessly pander to a key special interest group.

The special interest group in this case is the dairy industry. It turns out that the latest threat to this industry is the mayor of New York.

Eric Adams, a fake vegan who thinks he’s a nutrition expert, recently floated the idea of ​​removing chocolate milk from city schools. The notion is not entirely irrational, given our continuing problems with childhood obesity.

But milk, which is New York’s most important agricultural product, is something of a sacred cow in these regions. So it was no surprise that state politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike nearly climbed over each other to register their disapproval of the mayor’s suggestion.

In fact, nine members of the New York congressional delegation — including Democrats Antonio Delgado and Sean Patrick Maloney and Republicans Claudia Tenney and Elise Stefanik — signed a letter last month urging Adams to drop such profanity.

“As members representing both rural and urban communities, we are committed to supporting New York dairy farmers, producers and agricultural partners, while ensuring that children in New York City schools have access to essential life-enhancing nutrients,” the letter said.

Stefanik, as usual, took things up a notch, rhetorically and otherwise.

“Rather than going after violent criminals, NYC Mayor Eric Adams is prioritizing a chocolate milk ban in NYC public schools,” she said on Twitter. , happily unaware that Adams was elected last year largely because he was the only candidate willing to prioritize rising crime. as a concern.

Stefanik also introduced legislation that would require districts participating in the national school lunch program to offer at least one flavored milk option. The North Country Republican said her bill was intended to preserve the choice that nannies like Adams would otherwise rip out of children’s mouths.

Stefanik, however, does not want too much choice offered. When People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals pushed her to include non-dairy soy or almond drinks on her bill, she scoffed. tweeted that “vegan juice is not milk”.

Question: Wouldn’t “vegan juice” be what you would get if you squeezed a vegan, technically speaking?

In any event, there is little risk that Stefanik’s bill will become law. I can say this with confidence, because while similar attempts to appease the dairy industry have made headlines, which of course is the point, they have had little real impact.

For example, an almost identical bill introduced last year, the School Milk Nutrition Act, never made it out of committee, despite a large bipartisan group of sponsors that included Stefanik, Delgado and Paul Tonko. , the democrat from Amsterdam.

Tonko also joined in unsuccessful efforts to ban manufacturers of plant-based products from using the term “milk”, based on the apparent fear that some poor fool would be tricked into believing that soymilk comes from of a cow.

“Have you ever tried to milk an almond?” Tonko asked me once.

He has a point. Mammals make milk; plants don’t.

However, I am going to suggest that our politicians, especially those who work in important places like Congress, should probably have more important things in mind than whether school children are lucky enough to drink a particular drink or another .

They certainly should not be trying to stimulate the dairy industry or shield it from legitimate market forces, which have long been federal policy. Did you know, for example, that the US Department of Agriculture was largely responsible for “Got Milk?” campaign?

But to Adams, I say: Let the children have their chocolate milk.

For one thing, the mayor’s claims that plant-based “milks” are healthier for humans and the planet are dubious at best. Almond milk, for example, is often sweetened with cane sugar and artificial flavors, and the absurd amounts of water and pesticides used to grow almonds have terrible environmental costs.

Adams isn’t wrong, however, when he takes aim at unhealthy school lunches. In fact, when you look at what college students continue to be served in many districts across this country, it’s hard to consider chocolate milk as anything close to a significant nutritional issue.

Consider, if you will, what’s included in this week’s offerings for elementary school students in a local district: chicken nuggets, Bosco breadsticks, mini waffles with sausage, mini cheese pizza and bagels with cream cheese.

Of these choices, chocolate milk would look like broccoli.

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