Following Dean Foods’ bankruptcy filing last week, Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update dove into the issues with dairy. Anchor Michael Che interviews the fictitious president of milk distribution for Dean Foods, Scooter Rineholdt (Kyle Mooney).
“There’s nothing wrong with drinking cow’s milk, okay?” a frustrated Rineholdt tells Che after offering him a glass of milk. “I don’t know where these rumors came from: ‘Dairy is bad for you’; ‘Cows don’t like it when you touch their boobies.’ It’s just not true, Che,” he said.
Rineholdt grows more agitated, clumsily chugging his giant glass of milk, and talking about personal problems (his wife is cheating on him with the mayor), as well as the declining interest in milk. Che asks if perhaps the dairy industry has explored some healthier alternatives.
“We use skim, nonfat, little fat, and even one with no lactose,” Rineholdt says. “The dairy industry has always been there for you guys. Now, because of some nut job out there, everyone is trying these non-dairy milks. I’d rather drink my own piss.”
But Che persists, saying there are some “pretty good tasting healthy alternatives” to cow’s milk.
Rineholdt tries to counter the data with bizarre news stories like a man who “quit” drinking dairy, goes to bed and never wakes up. There’s a pregnant woman who drank oat milk and a kid “goes blind”, and soy milk-drinking toddler who “joins ISIS.”
“Maybe you just need to accept that times are changing,” Che says.
Dairy Demand Declines
Times are indeed changing. Dean Foods, the largest dairy producer in the United States, said its bankruptcy filing is due to declining milk sales.
“Despite our best efforts to make our business more agile and cost-efficient, we continue to be impacted by a challenging operating environment marked by continuing declines in consumer milk consumption,” Dean president and CEO Eric Beringause said in a statement on Thursday.
As consumers seek to diversify their dairy options, the industry is changing, too. California’s oldest dairy farmer recently switched to growing almonds instead of raising cows. It was unable to maintain profits on dairy. New York’s Elmhurst Dairy made a similar shift several years ago, trading in its cows for “milked nuts” after it could no longer sustain a profit on cow’s milk.
Some farmers are shifting for ethical reasons. A BAFTA-winning film entitled “73 Cows” details the story of a dairy farmer who becomes friends with his herd and sends them off to live at a sanctuary.