NPR

Why Are Americans Drinking Less Cow's Milk? Its Appeal Has Curdled

In the 1900s, nutritionists and dairy producers helped convince Americans that cow's milk was nature's perfect food. But the science and tastes have changed, and we're guzzling much less than before.
glass of milk / Andrew Unangst / Getty Images

When's the last time you had a glass of cow's milk?

Americans are drinking a lot less milk than they used to. According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, the average person drinks 18 gallons a year. Back in the 1970s it was more like 30 gallons a year. We once hoisted a glass with dinner, soaked our breakfast cereal or dipped into the occasional milkshake. This habitual milk drinking was no accident.

It started in the 1800s, when Americans moved from farms to cities. "First, you had to have the rise of milk trains that would bring milk from the countryside. That milk was refrigerated with ice," says Melanie DuPuis, a professor at Pace University and

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