May 22 2012 07:54 AM

White or chocolate, milk's nutrients are affordable nutrition

It seems people choose to focus on the negative. When sharing milk's story, highlight the positive. The phases you speak or type become memorable and often quotable. MyDairy shares some reminders as we all prepare for June is Dairy Month.

Here are some general statements about milk:

• You want to feel good about the food you're putting into your body and what you're serving family and friends. Real, fresh dairy foods can help make it easy.

• Adding low-fat milk to dishes we already love to cook and enjoy at home – like oatmeal at breakfast and pasta sauce at dinner – is a great way to improve their taste and nutritional value.

• Many dairy foods can help people get "back to the basics" with their short ingredients list. For example, cheese, which is made from real milk, starts with just four basic ingredients.

These are a good start. Adding personal comments gives your words an individual feeling and credibility. If you enjoy cooking and baking, cite an example or two. It can provide your friends ideas when they prepare a meal for their families.

There has been much discussion on flavored milks. When it is criticized, focus on the benefits it provides. If you are responding to criticism of flavored milk, here are some reminders:

• Milk – whether white or flavored – plays a vital role in helping Americans, especially children, meet nutritional needs.

• Flavored milk contains the same 9 essential nutrients found in white milk that are important for good health; a nutrient package difficult to find in other foods that are as affordable or appealing.

• Flavored milk is a valuable addition to school lunches. It provides nutrients children need, with a taste kids love.

• Research shows eliminating flavored milk from schools resulted in a dramatic drop in milk consumption (35 percent). It is difficult and expensive to replace the nutrients lost from decreased milk intake in school meals.

• Over the past five years, the dairy industry has been hard at work to lower the calories and sugar in school flavored milk. It continues to deliver the nutritious and delicious drink kids love.

• This fall, all the chocolate milk served for school lunch will be fat-free, as required by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

• Flavored milk now has 38 percent less added sugar than just five years ago.

• On average, school flavored milk now has just 31 calories more than white milk and the majority have fewer than 150 calories per serving.

Just because a comment has a negative tone, does not require a defensive response. Take the opportunity and harness the power of your words to make a positive promotion of dairy. Maybe it's writing a letter to the editor of your local paper, sharing a conversation while distributing chocolate milk on a farm tour, or responding to a fair attendee's question, it's up to you to be the voice of dairy farming. Speak up!