The following information can be used in collaboration with this PowerPoint to highlight the wide range of foods produced and harvested in Scotland.
In Scotland, we have a dairy industry producing milk which is either sold direct as milk or used to process into cheese, yoghurt and other dairy products.
There are also a range of dairy alternatives on the market – soya, nuts, rice, hemp, coconut and oats are all used to produce dairy free products
Milk comes from dairy cows.
Dairy cows like all mammals produce milk after having a calf. After calving, the cow is milked to provide us with liquid milk. She will be milked 2-3 times a day using a cluster (a gentle vacuum which attaches to each teat to extract the milk). Each day she is in milk, a cow produces around 20 litres of milk.
If the calf is a female she will be reared by the farmer as a future milk producer. If the calf is a male he will be reared for beef production. Some farmers now used sexed semen so that they know they will get female calves.
Some dairy cows go outside during the summer and come in during the winter whilst others do not go outside. Cows predominantly eat grass (either directly through grazing) or grass that is preserved through fermentation (silage).
More dairy facts can be found here.
Plant based milks
These milks are based on water in which the plant product is soaked. For example with oat milk, oats are soaked in water, with almond milk the almonds are soaked in water. The quantity of plant product used can be quite low for example almond milk contains 2-3% almonds. The resultant liquid is combined with calcium, salt, stabilisers and vitamins to mimic the nutritional content of milk.
In a dairy herd cows all produce calves at different times of year. As a result, cows produce milk throughout the year.
Milk and dairy alternatives provide us with protein and a number of vitamins and minerals, the most important of which is calcium which is important for bones and teeth. In dairy milk, calcium is naturally present whilst in plant based milks it is added (often in the form of calcium carbonate) to provide the same nutrition as the dairy based product.
Dairy is a local product and where the cows eat grass and silage inputs can be minimal. In systems where foods are imported the sustainability of the product is reduced. Cows do produce methane and methane production is linked to the cows diet.
The sustainability of the plant based milk depends on the plant on which it is based. For example, almonds grow in California and require irrigation as well and managed pollination to grow. They also have a long food miles journey to get to the UK.