Chicago Tribune

'You can't really abuse almonds': Fair Oaks videos may push more milk drinkers to try alternatives. But dairy farms are innovating

Gerri Tucker knew exactly what she wanted when she entered the milk aisle at Mariano's: Silk's Almond and Cashew blend, which in bold lettering boasts of 10 grams of protein per serving.

"It's rich, it's thick, it has a wonderful taste," said Tucker, 74, who was turned on to the milk substitute by neighbors who swear by it. "It has everything I need."

Tucker, a retired massage therapist, gave up dairy 45 years ago because of lactose intolerance, but she only recently discovered her ideal replacement. Soy milk, the only alternative for a long time, upset her stomach, and almond milk, which has dominated the scene for the past 15 years, was a little thin for her taste.

Now the dairy aisle is crowded with milk alternatives made with cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, oat, rice, hemp, pea, and bananas, many with sweetened or vanilla-flavored variations and fortified with extra nutrients.

Sales of plant- and nut-based milks, which sell for more than twice the price of dairy milk, jumped 44% between 2013 and 2018, to nearly $2.4 billion last year, according to market research firm Euromonitor, as tastier options emerged and

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