Saturday, June 16, 2018

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Plant-Based "Milks"

     Since ancient times, many folks have been interested in consuming non-dairy milks--whether it was from lactose intolerance, allergies, or to avoid using/exploiting animals.  The first one appears to have been almond milk, which was developed in the Middle East around the 13th century.  Since that time, many others have been invented, from a whole host of grains and seeds.  The most popular are "milks" made from soy, rice, hemp, coconut, barley, walnut, flaxseed, pumpkin, quinoa, and oats, but others exist, too.  Although soy was long the plant-based milk king, it was finally overtaken by almond milk in 2013.  Currently plant-based milks make up almost 10% of the total milk market in the U.S.  Anyway, upon seeing an entire shelf of the stuff, I snatched up the oddest ones I could find, which were a pea/tapioca/potato based one (Veggemo, from Global Gardens Group), a hemp seed one (Tempt, from Living Harvest Foods), and an oat one (from Pacific Foods).
     Global Gardens Group (GGG)is a Canadian company.  They state that their goal is "helping to enhance people's health, well being, and to better the quality of life."  They maintain that plant based milks are healthier, one example being that they do not contain bad cholesterol.  Also, these products they feel are more environmentally friendly (less greenhouse gases, for example), and are more ethical, since animals are not being exploited.  Aside from the vanilla flavor I got, they also make original and unsweetened kinds.  GGG says that the peas are for protein, nutrition, and flavor, the tapioca is for nutrients and the creamy texture, and the potato makes the liquid smooth and milky white.  The company also states that the milks are high in Vitamins D, Vitamin B12, and calcium, and lack cholesterol, gluten, and soy (I didn't know that last one was a concern).  They are furthermore non-GMO, vegan, and kosher.  Oddly, President and CEO Rob Harrison previously introduced Haagen-Dazs  and Ben & Jerry's ice creams to Canada, which are distinctly dairy-based, of course.  Evidently he had a change of heart.
     I was unable to find out much about Living Harvest Foods.  They were founded in 2002, are based in Connecticut in the U.S., and their parent company is Healthy Brands Collective Corporation.  Other products include hemp-based foods, and non-dairy frozen desserts.  They're also big on environmental sustainability, and are gluten-free.  The hemp seed milk I drank is purported to be a good source of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and omegas, but it wasn't very specific about that.  They also clearly had "no THC" printed on their carton, no doubt to dissuade both potheads and those afraid of being arrested by the DEA.  Since there is no THC in it, you can't get high on hemp milk, nor will you get false positives on drug tests, as sometimes happens with poppy seed products (because of the poppy plant being the source of opiates).
     Pacific Foods was begun in 1987, in the U.S. state of Oregon.  Aside from plant-based milks, they manufacture soups, meals, beans, and sauces, to name a few.  Weirdly, though, they're not completely meat-free.  They sell bone broth, and have several other products that contain chicken and beef.  These animals are evidently free-range, locally grown, and from environmentally conscious farms and all, but still, that struck me.  I realize that some people who are against say, factory farmed meats and dairy products, but not these products as a whole, but it still seems like an odd combination, to go along with their meal alternatives and plant-based "milks."  On a trivial note, the company's VP of Operations is named Joe McCarthy.  I think if I was Mr. McCarthy's parents, I would have gone with a first name that wasn't identical to one of country's worst, most destructive senators.

1) Veggemo vanilla "milk,"Global Gardens Group.  Aside from the pea/tapioca from cassava/potato starch, it also contains water, organic cane sugar, sunflower oil, sea salt, gellan gum, natural flavors, and various vitamins and nutrients.  Had a slightly brownish-white color.  Odd taste.  Rather watery.  Some vanilla overtones.  Kind of "meh" overall--not good, but not really bad, either.

2) Tempt hemp "milk," Living Harvest Foods.  In addition to the hemp seed base, this one contains water, pure cane sugar, brown rice syrup, sunflower lecithin, sea salt, gellan gum, and various vitamins and nutrients.  An off white color.  Thicker texture, less watery than the Veggemo.  Better taste, too.  Decent as a beverage, and poured over Cheerios cereal.

3) Oat "milk," Pacific Foods.  As with the others, this one also had sea salt, water, gellan gum, and various vitamins and nutrients, to go along with the main oat base.  Brownish-white hue.  Tastes pretty oat-y, which to me is a positive, as I'm quite the oat fan.  A bit sweet.  Liked as a beverage, and also with cereal.  (Cheerios again, which was sort of eating oats in their own blood.)  It's close, but I liked this one best, with the hemp one a close second.

     So, I was prepared to kind of hate on these strange "hippy milks," but they actually weren't too bad.  Even the worst one, the Veggemo, was alright.  And the other two were pretty good.  I may even buy the last two again, and try the other flavors from the same companies.  (Not that I'm giving up dairy, though--with my obsessive love of cheese, I don't see that ever happening.)  Also, if you're good at sleight-of hand, you might be able to trick your friends and use these plant-based milks to successfully complete the "gallon challenge" without vomiting.

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