Minneapolis Schools Says "Good Riddance" to Chocolate Milk

Last week, I was granted three more reasons to be glad I moved to Minneapolis seven years ago.


(Full disclosure: I don’t live in Minneapolis proper, but in a suburb 15 minutes west of the city. But when I travel and people ask me where I’m from, I always proudly proclaim “Minneapolis.” )


Not that I needed more reasons. Since the moving van unloaded all my worldly possessions on Mother’s Day 2004, I’ve grown genuinely fond of this part of the world. I especially appreciate the sense of community, the culture, the food, the lakes, the Guthrie, The Marsh, and most recently, Target Field. (The mosquitos, the winters, and the Minnesota-nice drivers who merge into one lane two miles before they need to, I’m still trying to acquire an appreciation for.)


But last week, three separate announcements gave Minneapolis -- and its citizens, like me! -- even more reasons to celebrate being here.

  1. Bicycling magazine named it America’s best biking city.
  2. Advocate magazine named it the gayest city in America. 
  3. Minneapolis public schools are taking chocolate milk off their lunch menus for good.

I’ll leave the first two items to those more qualified to write about them. But number three is all mine.


Two months ago, I wrote an SGT blog post asking: Does Chocolate Milk Belong in Our Schools? After outlining the pros and cons of removing chocolate milk from school lunch menus, I wondered which Minnesotan school district would be the first to ban chocolate milk from its lunch rooms.


Little did I know that it would be the state's largest, though there were signs that Minneapolis schools were moving in this direction when they removed chocolate milk from their breakfast menus last year. So hooray for them and their brave and decisive nutrition services team, who analyzed the data, summoned their courage, and gave notice to chocolate milk that it’s no longer welcome lurking around their school cafeterias.


So starting with this year's summer-school programs, there won't be any more candy masquerading as milk -- or as Renegade Lunch Lady Ann Cooper calls it, “soda in drag” -- tempting unsuspecting MInneapolis school children to ingest, in each serving, almost as much sugar as what's contained in a can of Mountain Dew.


Minneapolis follows school districts in Boulder, Berkley, Washington, DC, and, if Jamie Oliver gets his way, Los Angeles, the second largest district in the country, which is expected to make its official announcement in July.


I talked to Minneapolis schools’ Nicole Barron, nutrition service’s business manager, about the big decision.


“Last year, for the first time, we did not offer chocolate milk at our summer community sites. And then, starting with the 2010/2011 school year, we took it off the breakfast menu,” she explained.


“But now chocolate milk will no longer be a choice at lunch, either.”


She was quick to add, “We’re excited, but also a little nervous.”


Nervous because currently chocolate milk makes up 60 percent of the district’s overall milk sales; this is significant, because chocolate milk isn’t offered at breakfast. That means the percentage of chocolate milk sold would be even higher if only lunchtime consumption were measured.


“To be honest, we’re prepared for an initial drop in the amount of milk sold,” Nicole admitted. "And we’re ready for negative push-back from the students,” she said, “but we’re optimistic that parents and staff will be supportive of the change.”


Nicole mentioned a school district in another state that decided to remove chocolate milk from its menu; but after only six weeks, it buckled under pressure from a vocal minority of parents who wanted it back. Another large school district, Fairfax County in Virginia, recently did the same thing.


“No matter what, we believe this is the right decision. And we’re committed to sticking it out. Even if milk sales don’t rebound completely. Even if we get some criticism," Nicole asserted.


“We are guided by our responsibility to our children: to feed them and make sure they’re ready to learn,” she said. “Kids may not always like what adults do in their best interests. But we’re confident that most parents will support what we're doing."


I asked Nicole if she was concerned that kids would eschew milk altogether if chocolate milk were no longer a choice, a concern expressed by some parents and dietitians -- not to mention representatives for the dairy industry -- citing a “calcium crisis.”


“When we took french fries off the menu, no one complained, ‘they’re getting fewer vegetables!’ We have plenty of other food that provides calcium without the added sugar of chocolate milk: yogurt, cheese, calcium-fortified juice with breakfast, just to name a few,” said Nicole. 


“This complies with the school’s mission to get back to the basics: whole fruits and vegetables; food that’s less processed; plain milk without added flavors and sugars.”


Then she added: “If nothing else, we want kids to learn to appreciate flavors other than sweet.”


Everyone knows that milk’s flavor is best when served ice-cold; that’s why Nicole and her team pushed for a new fleet of coolers designed to keep the temperature of their milk just above freezing.


They also considered selling milk in plastic bottles, because some research suggests that kids prefer these to cartons. But Nicole said that Minneapolis schools are consciously moving away from plastic waste products, so this is not an option that they would consider.


It's talk like this that makes me proud to be a part of a community that brings such thoughtfulness and conscientiousness to its business decisions. 


Does chocolate milk belong in our schools? Definitely not. But those of us who agree belong right here in Minneapolis. Even if your actual home is somewhere else.





Shari Manolas Danielson is a frequent contributor to Simple, Good and Tasty. Her last post was Why Don't Minnesota Lawmakers Want to Talk About Proposed Law Against Videotaping Inside Animal Facilities?



I think chocolate milk is getting a bad rap here. Many of us runners know that it's actually a highly-recommended post-workout food because of the combination of protein and sugars it provides.

I can understand wanting to avoid HFCS and I do that when I buy chocolate milk, but if the calories are a concern, I'd like to see schools provide more opportunities for children to be active and burn up those 60 calories rather than take away chocolate milk.

I couldn't help but notice that the author's preferred milk supplier, Cedar Summit Farm, which is where I get my milk also, provides chocolate. Is it really that bad or are people overreacting just a little bit?

Thank you Mark! I appreciate your comment, and the fact that you're willing to go out on a limb -- even including your name. :-)

I'll give you my own opinion, which is not exactly the same as Shari's (although it's generally the same...): Chocolate milk is not evil. I serve it to my kids. In moderation, I approve of just about anything that doesn't involve torture or poison.

What I love about this bold move by the Minneapolis Public Schools is that they're doing what they know is right for the kids, and that they're willing to risk approval and funding to do it in a big way. How many of us are wiling to do the same things in our own homes, with our own children? Not enough.

Would it be better to teach kids to eat the things they like in moderation, to eat more veggies, to balance activity with caloric intake? Absolutely! And yet, these things are difficult, and they take time. (And they are happening right now, of course.)

In the meantime, Minneapolis Schools had the ability -- and took the opportunity -- to reduce the amount of sugar our kids consume significantly in one fell swoop. I still have the right, and the ability, to sugar my kids up when they get home.

So I applaud the bold move Minneapolis Schools is making, even as I'm not prepared to condemn chocolate milk as a killer. I support Minneapolis' effort to guide our kids towards decisions that will support their long, healthy, active lives.

But it doesn't mean I won't let my kids have a treat now and then.

Your point about Cedar Sumit is a great one, worthy of many discussions. It's important (and tricky) to remember that Cedar Summit is a profit-minded business (albeit a sustainably-minded, community-focused one), not a public health company. My guess is that they make chocolate milk because parents buy it. Same goes for Organic Valley, who even makes strawberry milk!

Thanks again, Mark!


Where chocolate milk may be a good post-workout drink it isn't a nutritious lunch choice. When we have an epidemic of obesity with children in this country we need to have schools use their lunch-time as an opportunity to educate on what is healthy to eat. Good job Minneapolis! No fries, no chocolate milk, and no soda are great steps in the right direction.

That picture of the chocolate backpack is making my mouth water.

How about we ban milk in general? It all has added sugar! Bottled water? They add chemicals to bottled water that cause cancer! I dont think the problem is the calories and sugar... Its the fact that people are lazy. I dont think you ban the food, I think you get kids moving! As a young adult, the chocolate milk was sometimes the only thing they served that was good.

It really annoys me when people say this is bad for you, BAN IT!!! Kids arent stupid. Or should I say any more stupid than adults... Look how many adults drink pop, are you going to promote banning that too?

Maybe they should ban peanut butter and jelly sandwiches too....

Its sad that kids cant enjoy being a kid anymore... They have to worry about their diets.

I remember getting a chocolate milk option once a week in elementary school. I always looked forward to that day. Perhaps a district might be willing to cut back, but not ban it. Who says that if you offer it, that you have to offer it every day.

Really????? This is a new worthy issue, if the kids are fat, parents kick them out the front door for some exercise, instead of plopping them down infront of a TV, Computer, guys are just against our Dairy Farmers, the reduction in Milk sales will cause hundreds of Cows to be made into hamburger.....then PETA is going to be all over you....

Parents, try parenting....milk of any kind is better than soda...our schools have enough issues, not their job to teach your kids good eating.

c'mon America Wake UP!

Having just returned from my son's pediatrician - and been told to try offering chocolate milk, because he's not consuming enough calories, I wonder if there aren't other children off the growth chart who have a legitimate use for this drink -- and, yes, do belong, even if they don't agree with you.

That is a good point that not all children are at risk of being overweight. My best friend's daughter was also lighter than the growth chart for her age and I suggested the same thing.

I am a dairy farmer and a mom of 3. I have a 5-year-old son and two daughters, a 3 year old and a 2 month old. As someone who lives and works on a dairy farm, I know that the milk that farms produce is healthy and wholesome. I take great pride in producing milk that is safe -- federal guidelines require it and my pride demands it! We drink chocolate milk at our house because I know it is nutrient rich and important for growth and development in a growing body. Chocolate milk SHOULD remain a choice in all schools.

The manufacturers of flavored milk do NOT need to add sooo much sugar. Our 1/2 pints of chocolate milk have 26 grams of sugar. When I make chocolate milk at home for my girls, we use a small amount of the flavoring. (I'm a Foodservice Director.) I will not even think about ordering/serving strawberry milk. It has 31 grams of sugar/serving. This is ridiculous! Manufacturers need to consider all the sugars, fats, sodium, preservatives, etc. added to their processed food items. We are feeding OUR children! I grew up on a beef cattle, corn, and soybean farm. The farmers usually do a good job raising our raw food ingredients. I want food to be less processed, less preserved, more natural, etc.

I wonder what this means for all of the money the district has been getting from the Midwest Dairy Council and their Fuel up to Play grants (with the NFL).

A couple of years ago the Dairy Council brought in a big dog and pony show about milk and even let the kids sample different milk choices.

In my experience at a school (especially on a field trip day like today) if the kids don't get chocolate milk, they just throw the regular stuff away.

As an Arkansas dairy farmer and mom, I was disappointed to learn that chocolate milk is being removed from Minneapolis schools. Flavored milk contains the same 9 essential nutrients found in white milk. Our dairy industry has worked to reduce fat,calories and added sugars in flavored milk. Flavored milk is a perfect choice for the children who refuse to drink regular milk and would otherwise miss all those nutrients. Recent studies have shown that when flavored milk was removed from the school menu, milk consumption dropped 35%.

I am going to agree with Susan's statement. Perhaps the Minneapolis school district should have researched the issue a little more, only to discover low fat, low suagr options of flavored milk. Good nutrition provided by milk, with chocolate flavoring, encourages kids to have their 3 servings each day. Knowing that 9 of 10 girls and 7 of 10 boys are not getting enough calcium each day alone should have been enough of a reason to continue to keep chocolate milk available for children. As a MN dairy farmer, I am extremely disappointed in this decsion, it was not in the best interest of the students in this district.

Well, it looks like Minneapolis District children will have another strike against them. Not only may they be facing obesity, but they will also be calcium deficient and nutrient deprived since milk is packed with bone-building calcium and 9 essential nutrients and vitamins.

We all know children choose chocolate milk over white milk - even adults do the same! For some children, the school lunch program is the only "square" meal they get in a day. If chocolate milk is removed, will you be offering more cheese or yogurt to replace the calcium and nutrients they will be missing in their diet?

May I recommend evaluating your decision and noting how much less milk you will be ordering you’re your lunch program? Then, consider how much milk you should be ordering weekly. The numbers will show you the children will not be drinking white milk.

When I feed my child dinner today… I will be thinking of the poor Minneapolis School children who will not be receiving their much needed daily dose of calcium and essential nutrients that milk provides for them!

Based on the content of some of the comments, it is obvious that the dairy industry has been encouraging its supporters to comment on this story. Instead of maligning the school district's decision and trying to bully them into reconsidering, perhaps the dairy industry could support the idea that this school district is making a decision in the best interest of the long term health of its children. I wish the district I live in had the courage to do the same.

Hi also a concerned mom,

i agree with you - that dairy industry is impressive in its ability to mobilize. Sheesh!

This "get our product into the kids no matter what it does to them" sounds a lot like what I'd expect to hear from international soda companies.

There are 2 sides to this story, for sure, but c'mon.


Not everyone agrees on what's best nutritionally. Our schools do not offer the choice of whole milk and this is the milk I would choose for my growing kids. At home if we buy chocolate milk I buy cedar summit or castle rock organic, grass fed and local milk as a treat. My kids don't drink any milk at school and guess what? They aren't suffering some terrible nutritional deficiency. If children are not being fed good, wholesome food at home that is quite sad, but it isn't the job of the public schools to enforce certain options just in case some kids aren't being fed well by their parents. There are other social services that can help families struggling to have enough to eat ie. Food banks, welfare, food stamps and WIC, which as all you dairy industry workers know, subsidizes free milk for low income folks. Wic actually doesn't allow "choice" either in regards to the milk they provide, you cannot buy whole milk, nor do I believe you can buy flavored, nor organic.

What single food will our Mpls schools start providing to our children with the same amount of calcium, Vitamin D., Protein, Potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Riboflavin, Niacin and Phosphorus? According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, their study concluded that people with a high consumption of dairy products and fruits and vegetables had a lower risk for developing functional disability as they age. The Journal of Adolescent Health study found that children ages 6-17 who consumed more than 8 oz. of flavored dairy products daily, had better diets than those who regularly drank soda and flavored fruit drinks. The milk drinkers consumed more calcium without incresing their total sugar or fat intake.
Studies show that more than 65% of our children don't meet their daily calcium needs and it is during teen years that half of all bone is formed. One 8 oz. glass of milk provides 30% of the daily recommended calcium, so if we have at least 3 servings of low fat dairy products daily, the calcium goal will be accomplished. I urge everyone to get off the couch, get fit and consume your dairy products! Let's get the facts straight so our kids develop properly and can lead healthy adult lives.

I would like to comment on the dairy industry's "ability to mobilize". Last night, when I received a message regarding the decision of the Minneapolis school district, I felt compelled to reply. I had just finished putting 2 of my children to sleep by myself (husband still out in field) and was nursing my third child. But yes, even if I had to type one-handed, the thought that people might only hear one side of the story was scary enough to me that I knew I had to comment. And farmers all across the state and country feel the same way. We are very proud of what we do, and we know that milk is a nutritious and wholesome food.

If a kid is overweight, chocolate milk is probly less than 1% of the problem...

How is it that the best post-workout drink, as endorsed by Runners World and Fitness Magazines, can be 'bad' for young children? How can it possibly be ok to eliminate 9 essential nutrients from a child's diet? Who do Minneapolis school officials think they are to say the 4,700 dairy farmers are not producing a nutritious product? I would like to know the research backing this decision and the 'pro's and cons' list of chocolate milk. EVERY parent should be concerned about getting their children their daily essential nutrients, of which milk offers nine! Chocolate milk is available in reduced fat, low-fat, and fat free options, giving you no excuse. As a dairy farmer myself and county dairy princess, I promote consuming at least 3 dairy products a day. The research behind dairy products has proved, over and over again, low-fat options can help you lose weight, the protein builds muscle, the calcium strengthens bones and teeth, the carbohydrates feed your metabolism, the nearly 87% water in milk hydrates your body, and vitamins A & D, along with phosphorus and potassium benefit your body as well.

Thanks Laura. Here's Shari's first post on the subject: Does Chocolate Milk Belong in Our Schools? And now we patiently wait for the carrot industry to defend carrot cake...

Have I mentioned that my son drinks chocolate milk? I'm not condemning the product for parents who want to make that choice at home like me. I'm applauding our school system for taking a stand to keep our kids healthier, and questioning our kids "right" to a food that is -- if you're looking objectively -- questionable.

To Dairy farmer and mom of 3
Thank you for the hard work you do as a dairy farmer. I too am a farmer, (not a dairy farmer) but I am surrounded by dairy farmers. I have the greatest respect for the hard work and dedication of dairy farmers.

For me, it is sad to see such a great product being adulterated with so much sugar, just to increase consumption. Instead, we are increasing consumption of sugar, not milk.

I think removing chocolate milk from Mpls schools is a good decision. I grew up in the Mpls schools and we did NOT have chocolate milk as an option. In fact, we had ice cold regular milk delivered right to our classrooms everyday for a milk break, and it was something we looked forward to everyday. I don't know what ever happened to that program, but perhaps that is a better program for the dairy industry to support and try to reinstate... what a great way to get children excited about drinking real, pure milk.

Wow! This is a great reason I am glad I am almost done with the public school system. How can taking a nutrient dense product, albeit with added sugar, out of schools be a good thing? The calcium absorbed via milk is more readily available to the body than any fortified juices will ever be. Also, I would be very interested in knowing what the school thinks kids will substitute chocolate milk for. Juice? It has plenty of sugar of it's own and definitely not the nutrtional whallop milk has. Water? They should have access to this number one nutrient all the time. When kids are getting 50% of their nutrients from school meals, isn't in their best interest that 2 of the 3 servings they need of dairy come through the school, when at home they are not likely to be getting that 3rd serving. As far as sugar goes pop is definitely very heavy in it with 77g available in a 12 oz. can, while orange juice and chocolate milk are actually pretty close to each other at 29g and 24g respectively and milk doesn't have to be fortified with calcium since it is naturally in there already:)


Well, well, well. It seems the talking point of the dairy industry are well represented in the previous comments. For those of you who haven't already decided where to stand on this issue, here's some additional information to consider:
1. Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the dept. of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, strongly advocates against flavored milk being served in schools, saying they "make absolutely no sense whatsoever."

Well, well, well. It seems the talking points of the dairy industry are well represented in the previous comments.

Let me see if I understand this correctly: As long as chocolate milk or any other beverage laden with processed sugar (vitamin-fortified Mountain Dew? Coke with calcium?) provides some source of nutrition, it should be served to children as young as 4 and 5 years old in public schools? Is that really the essence of your argument?

I suppose it is if you don't believe that processed sugar is bad for us. If this applies to you, then you probably need to be brought up-to-date on the latest nutritional research:

1. Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the dept. of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, strongly advocates against flavored milks being served in schools, saying they "make absolutely no sense whatsoever."

2. Emory University researchers have found that teenagers who consume up to 30 percent of their calories per day in added sugar are more likely to suffer diabetes and heart disease as adults.

3. Scientists are now finding links between insulin resistance (caused by excess sugar in the diet) and cancer, especially of the breast and colon. (Read the NY Times piece "Is Sugar Toxic?")

There's more. Just Google "added sugars and health" and you'll have many weeks' worth of reading.

One more thing: some of you have been disappointed by the lack of whole milk in schools (and, as of the 2011/12 school year, 2% will be out of cafeteria coolers, too, according to a USDA mandate). I couldn't agree more. There are a lot of reasons to believe that the less processed food is, the healthier it is for you. And reducing or removing the fat, homogenizing it, then adulterating what's left to make it palatable is a form of processing. (Read what Dr. Andrew Weil has to say about the health benefits of dairy fat.) Whole milk -- un-homogenized and pasteurized just enough to please Bill Marler (what's with the ultra-pasteurizing trend?) -- is what kids should be drinking, a la Cedar Summit.

Anyone out there want to take a shot at proving me wrong?


I'm not sure why sugar is seen as the only flavoring alternative when it comes to milk and other beverages kids might drink aside from water. How about we consider whole (or at least 2%) milk in schools? Fat is a healthier way to provide flavor than sugar, and I'm guessing that's why the milk Debbie was served in school tasted so good. I don't blame kids for not wanting to drink unflavored skim milk. Let's make the real stuff a staple, and give chocolate milk on special occasions.

Just saw Shari's last comment and I want to add: once you decide to go with pasteurized milk (instead of raw), I'm not sure the nutritive difference between HTST and Ultra is enough to make one more preferable than the other. I've found the info and chart on this site helpful: (disclosure: I work for OV). Retailers and consumers love UP milk for the longer shelf-life, and there seems to be a growing taste preference for it too- I personally think it tastes creamier. Eager to hear evidence or opinions to the contrary, though!

What a great point, Leslie! Of course it's difficult getting anyone -- especially children -- to drink skim milk. Whole milk, even 2 percent, provides an entirely different taste experience. Even the "mouth feel" of milk with fat is so much more desirable, and probably makes up some of what is lost in the switch from chocolate.

Switching gears, here's an argument against ultra-pasteurization:

The author puts it in the simplest terms possible: "... you cannot make yogurt or kefir out of UHT milk; it is simply too dead to hold a culture. If a product will not support microscopic life, it is not likely to support human life."

That's good enough for me.  :-)

I have been following this debate for a long time. I also have been watching the comments on this page, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms in the last 24 hours. I am a mom to two beautiful boys.

I want my kids to grow up in a home where healthy food choices are taught. I want them to be served a wholesome meal at school. And mostly importantly, I want them to make healthy food choices when they are adults.

I don't believe the dairy industry has contratry goals to the Minneapolis School district and even the likes of Jamie Oliver (who has made this issue red hot). All parties want kids drinking a nurtionally dense beverage. The dairy industry saw a need to get more calcium and eight other essential nutrients in children's diets, especially in low income areas. Their solution was flavored milk. And guess what, it worked. More kids were choosing milk over water or other beverages. Now that flavored milk has fallen out of grace, we need to find an alternative so that students don't skip on nutrients.

I agree with Leslie, the only way to get more students to drink plain old milk is to improve the flavor (packaging, delivery (cold vs warm) and natural flavor). This is something the dairy industry is constantly working on with funds provided by dairy farmers. But how many schools still have milk in the cardboard packages and let them sit out in those milk crates? Plenty of the schools I have visited still do. I am encouraged that the school district has improved their cooler system.

If our true intention is to encourage healthier beverage choices, schools nutrition programs need to work with the dairy industry to develop alternatives to the flavored milk. The dairy industry is constantly reaching out.

I hope the school distict is working hard to encourage milk and overall dairy consumption. I fear that students will be confused and start viewing the "milk" as bad, not the sugar. The goal should be to teach children healthy eating habits, not just banning certain foods because it is the popular thing to do.

What I dislike about the Food Revolution Show and this whole debate is that the "dairy industry" is viewed as a massive profit generating machine. When in fact it is made up of hard working farmers like, Shannon, Susan and Dairymom of 3. Midwest Dairy is led by dairy farmers. They have great programs encouraging healthy eating and I am sure these programs will continue in the school district.

Now for my full disclosure: Yes I am a dairy farmer. My husband and I work hard each day to provide your family with wholesome dairy products. Whether you drink white or chocolate, eat cheese or yogurt, our product is nutritionally dense. I knew if I posted that first, most would discredit what I wrote. :)

The position of The School Nutrition Association, American Dietetic Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Medical Association and the American Heart Association all say that the nutritional value of low-fat or skim milk outweighs the harm of added sugar in flavored milk.

Time for a voice of a child:

Hey. Me. I'm a teenager. I'm technically not a "child", people say, but technically not an adult either.

Personally, I can see why chocolate milk has been banned, but personally, I love chocolate milk, and it's the only reason that I'm taller than all my other family members, despite the fact that I'm a girl (guys are usually supposed to be taller, right?).

However, there are a couple of details I also want to get straight--

What other beverage options are being offered for lunch/ breakfast? Is any form of pop an option? As well, are juices included in the choice list?

a) if pop is being offered, then uh, do I need to mention the irony? I sincerely hope that pop is not being offered as a choice
b) Juices shouldn't be included in the options for a child either, because despite the fact that people think juices are GOOD for you, the processed juices you find in juice boxes, jugs, whatever, are terrible. In a hierarchy, chocolate milk is actually better than the juices. Has there been a movement to take apple juice, orange juice, grape juice, etc. off the menu as well? I think you should make it a priority, especially since chocolate milk has been banned already.

Then, looking at this from a child's perspective, this leaves me with two choices of beverage for lunch.


Dear adults and loving parents of other children,

To ensure my safety, can you not only make sure that fruit juices aren't a beverage choice, but as well, that the milk is organic and free of hormones?

And the water, can it not be contained in those disgusting plastic water bottles that kill our environment, filling up the landfills, and depleting our resources?

Much love from an older-than-a-child's view...

A demanding teenager.

Hey Demanding teenager,

Did you know all milk has hormones in it? In fact, most of the food we eat has hormones in it because we eat things that once were living.

A serving of milk has 11.3 nanograms of estrogen
A potato has 245 nanograms of estrogen.
Raw cabbage has 2,700 nanograms of estrogen.

I applaud the fact you seek out food that you like, however all the milk you can buy is nutritious and wholesome. A recent off the shelf survey in the lower 48 states found that all milk at the stores exceeded safety guidelines, except for some small, but significant differences:

*Conventionally milk had lower bacteria counts than rBST-free milk and organic milk.
*Conventionally produced milk had lower levels of estradiol and progesterone than organic milk.
*Organic milk had lower levels of IGF-1 than conventionally produced milk.
*There is no such thing as BST-free milk, only rBST-free! BST is a hormone produced naturally in the cow’s pituitary gland, and there is no detectable difference between BST and rBST in milk.
*bST is not active in humans even if it is injected into the bloodstream.
*There are no receptors for bST on the mammary gland, therefore, bST is not actively secreted into milk, most of the bST in milk is denatured by pasteurization
*Milk cannot, regardless of labeling, be sold with any antibiotic residue present.

If you'd like to read yourself, you can check this out:

Good Comments from the teenager! I do believe that consumer awareness helps...remember when eggs were going to give us all heart attacks and we shouldn't eat eggs??? Yet, now they provide a good source protein and are encouraged in moderation. MODERATION--kids who receive 8 oz. of nutrient rich milk, even if it is flavored are not going to become fatter! MODERATION--anything that is overconsumed is bad for you...after all, even drinking too much water can cause a physiological problem.

Now to other drinks and foods that are enhanced with sugar and served in the schools. How about orange juice and apple juice, grape juice...peanut butter (read the label on Jif! but, I personally love the taste, salad dressings, breads, the list goes on. If soda is no longer available, juice is no longer available, etc., and then no chocolate milk, well, there is not going to be much left, but water and white milk and since the study showed that 60% of the milk sales are chocolate, I guess that means most kids will drink water...Not any sugar in water, but not any nutritional value either! It is the true "0" beverage!

I am disappointed at the ridiculous attitudes of the squeaky wheels in the world that continue to get greased, simply because they think they are the only ones with an accurate opinion.

Midwest Dairy Association---I am a member and I no longer want any of my check-off dollars (which by the way does not come from the taxpayers, but the DAIRY FARMERS!!!) going to a Ridiculous School District!

I am with the author on this issue, and with the commenters who say they think schools should provide healthy food and parents should be allowed to feed their kids whatever they want.

As for the nutritional value of chocolate milk and kids needing more calcium, that is such a farce. Calcium is leached out of the body by a diet too high in protein and a lifestyle too low on weight-bearing exercise. Our bones are strongest when we eat a vegetable-based diet and get out, run around and lift heavy things. None of those things is happening any time soon in American education.

Kudos to the Minneapolis schools! Yes, the kids need calcium AND they need less sugar. The answer to the obesity problem is not just increasing calories expended, it is also in reducing calories ingested. I'd rather the kids drink water, from a fountain, than feed them chocolate milk.

Dear Mmmmm...Thanks for providing the facts!
Dear Alexa,
You have great ideas to help children and I am glad you are a concerned! However, chocolate milk contains less sugar than most other beverages and the chocolate milk served in schools has even less. Yes, vegetables and water are healthy foods as well, but water contains absolutely no vitamins and nutrients for our body. It goes right through us. Chocolate milk contains just enough sodium and sugar to help our bodies retain water, its carbohydrates fuel our metabolism, and the proteins strengthen and repair our muscles. The calcium in milk not only strengthens our bones, but also our teeth, nails, and research shows it can improve other areas of our body as well. One last point I would like to tell you is that research shows by drinking chocolate milk following physical activity, you will actually improve your performance on your next workout!
For more information you can check out

First, to anyone who thinks Mmmmmmm's statistics are, indeed, "facts," let me point out that the "research" that he/she (we don't know because he/she won't use his/her name) cites was funded entirely by Monsanto, the manufacturer of rBGH and other similarly scary agricultural products. And if you don't think that should discredit the entirety of Mmmmmmm's two comments, please read "What's in Your Milk? An Expose on the Dangers of Genetically Modified Milk," by Dr. Samuel Epstein of the Cancer Prevention Coalition.

(Maybe Mmmmmmm is short for Mmmmmmmonsanto?)

Second, I can't let Laura's statement "chocolate milk contains less sugar than most other beverages" go unchallenged. Chocolate milk, on average, contains 3.625 grams of sugar per ounce: more than Coke, which has 3.24 per ounce; Red Bull, also at 3.25 per ounce; Minute Maid Lemonade, 3.375; apple juice, 3.25; and Snapple Lemon Ice Tea, at 2.85. Sobe Mango Melon is tied with chocolate milk at 3.625 per ounce. The only two beverages I could find to beat chocolate milk's sugar count were Mountain Dew and Rockstar, tied at 3.85 grams per ounce. This 0.225 gram difference is equal to about 1/16 of a teaspoon.

Finally, why does Laura dismiss water's importance to health by saying it has "absolutely no vitamins and nutrients for our body. It goes right through us." She's right: no vitamins or nutrients, and, yes, much of it is turned into urine, which removes toxins and wastes from the body. But she doesn't mention (maybe because she doesn't make a living manufacturing water) how vital this "0" beverage (as Lori calls it) is to our health and well being. Water regulates every system in the body with a delicate balance of electrolytes and fluids. The brain, the heart, the lungs, the immune system, the muscles and joints, just to name a few, all require a regular and plentiful supply of clean water to function optimally. We can stay alive for weeks without food; but water deprivation can kill in a few days. And chronic dehydration has been linked to a multitude of health problems, including headaches, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, even Alzheimer's.

So don't be so quick to dismiss water, Laura. It's not just a "healthy food," it's vital to our very existence. Unlike milk, which is entirely optional. (In fact, some would even argue that cow's milk should be drunk only by unweaned calves. For more about this, read Dairy: 6 Reasons Why You Should Avoid it at All Costs.)


Thought this perspective might be worth sharing.

It comes from a dietitian and nutrition educator, so it's not just the dairy farmers who think kids should be allowed to drink chocolate milk.

If you don't follow the money trail, you will find that chocolate milk is very bad and really is a poison not only to children but to anyone that drinks it. Whereas, chocolate organic soy milk actually has health benefits especially if taken in the morning. Its good to know the truth according to your own labatory. Test yourself after drinking choclate milk to feel how your body feels and you will know. Another combination to avoid is chocolate and peanuts it may be good going down , but just watch and see how you feel. There is much scientific evidence to support this information, but we each have our own labs built in and we just need to test over and over until we know for ourselves. I agree with the decision Minneapolis has made to get chocolate milk out of the schools, the students will get plenty of it somewhere else.

came across this looking for nutrition info on Castlerock Farms whole, organic, chocolate milk

which I have been using combined with creatine and beta alanine as a sports recovery drink
it works well
good balance of fat protein and carbs and its cheaper than most of the chemical soups that pass for healthy choices

you people have way too much time on your hands or don't actually pay attention to the legitimate research

chocolate milk is not evil, nor is it manna from the gods
neither is soy, which frankly is in everything and is rarely found in a non-gmo source (for the hippies that want to soy everything)

there is no bad
there is only
good, better, best

if you are starving (been homeless and eaten out of garbage cans, so I can speak to this, starving sucks) any calories are good

if you have access to food that is processed but not synthetic, that is better

if you have access to and can afford whole and natural food, this is arguably best

if you can not metabolize fat as a source to create fuel for your body, than sugar in any form (soy, corn, beets, honey, wheat, potatoes, etc) are not going to be best, but are better than starving

if you can metabolize fat as a source to create fuel, than sugar is not bad, but may not be best or better, it can be good (sugar used to be used to make crappy food taste better so we could stomach eating the dried out dessicated and tasteless junk that people used to have to survive on)

Monsanto may suck, and confirmation bias is indeed a problem
but your opinion of research produced by Monsanto indicates a confirmation bias against their research

Stop being such a bunch of whining fundamentalists

realize that what is good for you may not be good for me

if the only meal that a kid is getting that has any semblance of nutrition is some tater tots a chunk of fish stick and some chocolate milk, its better than white bread cereal (broken up pieces of white bread) with powdered milk and sugar (ate that every day for 3 years as breakfast as a kid, we were on welfare in 1980's Los Angeles)I think that is better than starving

If you want to yell at me, my name and website are there,
just relax
if chocolate milk is the worst thing you have to worry about, you are not paying attention

kudos though for helping make lunches in school suck more

James, I think that your argument is quite valid and the fact that getting nutrition any way you can is one that has been expressed many times. I certainly wish that you did not have to fill our website with your anger and somewhat unfortunate language. 

I'm pretty sure that most kids in school will not starve without chocolate milk and that just because school lunches can be less than ideal, does not mean that there is no hope of them getting better. I think that is the main point here. We want to foster conversations that work to engage people and get them thinking about the potential to always get better.

About the fundamentalist accusations, just because the author thinks that giving kids too much sugar might not be ideal in no way makes this a fundamentalist article. As a parent, I see the challenge in kids who are amped up on too much sugar and I don't think it serves them. Do I love chocolate milk? Of course. Will I let my kid drink it? Of course. Do I want his teachers to have to try and deal with him after he gets all amped up on sugar? Not so much.

And, if you think school lunch will "suck" without chocolate milk, then this really is a bigger problem than any of us are really aware of. 

gee Lawrence
I think you and I differ on definitions of anger and salty language
read my post again and contemplate fully on what I actually said

if all the "think of the children" folks would actually follow their own mantra and send their kids to school with a lunch
that would be swell
find a different windmill

Sure James. Funny how i never said salty. I said "unfortunate" as in not ideal. I simply prefer a calmer tone if you actually want people to listen and take you seriously. 

I did read everything you said, and I get it. There are different levels here and I get that. I simply think that you have taken this to an extreme level (starvation) when the author clearly seems to be focusing on good, better, best and takes the track that less sugary drinks in school would be better. 

I also agree with the idea that kids should be sent to school with a lunch if at all possible, but obviously this is not an option for folks who live below the poverty line. They depend on that school lunch as a cheap easy option and if they didn't have it, I would hate to think of what would show up in their lunch. 

If you cannot participate in this discussion openly and equally, perhaps you should find somewhere else to launch your aggressive commentary.

I am glad to hear that the Minneapolis schools are actually doing something good. I am in Northern Minnesota and just found that they have removed Whole and 2% milk from our schools, just because the majority is obese, but yet they still have the chocolate milk available. At least the Minneapolis schools realize that not everyone needs to drink milk colored water. I wish that our schools would realize this too!! My daughters are petite and skinny (they have high Metabolisms)and need the extra GOOD fat that comes from whole milk, and now they are not receiving the proper nutrition from the schools. All schools need to do what is right for everyone not just the majority!

When it comes to milk, I agree that good healthy diet choices are taught in the home and the thought of chocolate milk at school undoing all the good work I have done was always a concern.

What is not mentioned here is that the Midwest Dairy Council has applied tremendous pressure to get the chocolate milk put back on the menu in MPS. They have gone to the School Board, the Superintendent and even the City of Minneapolis' Mayor's Office. The Dairy Council is only looking out for their bottom line and nothing else. Do not think for one minute that your child's health and wellness are a driving force in any of their marketing ploys.

The amount of sugar the average person consumes in this country is so much that it has become toxic. Human's bodies are not designed to be able to handle all that added sugar. We used to only have access to seasonal fruit and honey- which was a rare treat and the sugar that is metabolized from the starches in vegetables like potatoes and corn. For thousands of years humans diets consisted of vegetables, whole grains, meats and other proteins. Today's Concentrated, refined sugars that are dumped into our blood stream cause a spike in insulin and stops our bodies from burning stored fat (which leads to being overweight) plus over time wears out the pancreas and leads t
o diabetes. Also, sugar creates an acidic environment in the body where cancer cells flourish and spread. Chocolate milk may be a delicious treat but it is just treat. It may be touted as an after workout replenishment but we are talking about after a very long or intense workout where the blood sugar has gotten very low and a balance of carbs, fats and proteins are good. Sports drinks like Gatorade should be reserved the same way, for only very strenuous workouts where there is a lot of exertion and sweating.
Lets teach our kids that 95% of the time they should reach for water to quench their thirst. Water is what we need to be healthy. Reduced fat milk has many nutrients in it but some will argue that drinking the breastmilk from another species is not only strange but not necessary and leads to many of the disorders we suffer from- but that is another topic.. :)
Kids don't always get what they want because educated caring adults know what is really best for them. Eventually they will accept the norm and will stop expecting a sugar high from their milk carton and eat more Real food.

The thing I hear the loudest is both that parents should teach their kids to choose junk in moderation and to be more active. I'll agree on both points. I allow my children to have chocolate milk, in moderation. But we opt for a lower fat, lower sugar variety and stay away from things that are sweetened with corn syrup.

What bothers me most about the other comments are those that say the problem lies most in the need to teach your kids to eat the foods that are best for you. Fundamentally this is a great rule. However, with more and more schools watching their budgets more and more closely, and pinching every penny they can, they often times choose foods that have been so heavily processed, there isn't much left by way of nutritional value. Not to mention, foods that need to be cooked from scratch take more time (you can't just pop them in the oven for 10 minutes and serve them; these foods must be cleaned and prepared and actually cooked), they also cost more, both in purchasing price and manpower hours. Many schools seem to choose to opt to stay away from the higher cost out of need. This same principle is true in the home. The foods that are along the outside walls of the store (dairy, fresh meats, produce) all cost significantly more than what lies in wait in each aisle in between. For a family struggling to get by, be it traditional family or single parent family, if nutritionally sound food is too expensive to buy, you're going to opt for whatever you CAN put on the table. When you add the combination of what the kids are eating at school and now what they are getting on their table at home, they haven't got much hope at staying slender. And let's not even think about the numbers of families that are busier than ever and feel that their only option to get food into their kids at night (sometimes multiple nights a week between sports, music, and whatever other after school activity is going on) is McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, etc.

While I would agree that we need less governmental control in many areas, I would argue that we do need more control on these types of foods. Many kids eat two, and in some cases, three meals a day at school. Start putting healthier, more nutritious menu options on the table that don't come from the frozen foods department. Somehow, maybe we need to discover a way to lower the prices of the foods that are on the outer walls of the store (hard to do I realize as farmers are already not getting paid what they need to in order to get paid for their efforts). If it costs more to eat junk, maybe it will be treated as more of a "treat", rather than a staple.

All that said, I think it has less to do with chocolate milk than it does the combination of all the other garbage the kids are allowed to eat in the name of school lunches.

Fawn, thanks for reading and for writing such a thoughtful response.

You raised three issues that I want to address:

1. When you do the math, it is actually not more expensive to eat food that's good for you. Mark Bittman for the NYTimes wrote a great counter to this disceptive assumption last year. It's a worthwhile read:

According to Bittman, the problem is that we don't want to cook:

"Taking the long route to putting food on the table may not be easy, but for almost all Americans it remains a choice, and if you can drive to McDonald’s you can drive to Safeway. It's cooking that's the real challenge. (The real challenge is not 'I’m too busy to cook.' In 2010 the average American, regardless of weekly earnings, watched no less than an hour and a half of television per day. The time is there.")

2. I have to say, I also cringe every time I hear someone embrace moderation as an excuse to eat unhealthy food. What amount of "junk," as you call it, is acceptable? If we know it's bad for us; what logical reason is there to eat even one morsel of it? Would we ever say this about cigarettes? ("We should teach kids to smoke in moderation.") I don't think so, because we know how addictive they can be. Junk food is the same way; engineered by its manufacturers to be addictive. Introduce it into your diet and there's a very good chance that you will begin to prefer it over real, whole, nutrient-dense foods. (How many kids will choose plain milk after getting a taste of chocolate?)

3. You're right; the foods we eat are largely influenced by our government, in how it subsidizes farmers, how it coddles BigAg, and how most food-related legislation supports corporate interests, not consumers' health. Here's a great blog post by CivilEats explaining some of the frustrating contradictions of the Farm Bill -- the leglslative blueprint of U.S. agricultural policy.

That's enough for now. Thanks again for taking part in this important discussion. 


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <cite> <ul> <ol> <li> <p> <b> <em>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.