Asking a politician the price of a gallon of milk (or pint, depending on location) used to be a common litmus test to see if they were out of touch with their constituents. Now the price of milk is on some politicians’ minds as dairy farmers have had to dump millions of gallons due to the huge, pandemic-caused dropoff in demand.
This year the farmers need a government bailout due to the extreme circumstances, but every year, the U.S. and other nations’ governments spend billions supporting farms, meaning taxpayers have already put a downpayment on their milk before they get to the checkout. And beyond the supermarket, the environmental toll of cattle farming creates hidden costs we’ll be paying for generations.
We ventured into milk’s creamy abyss, wading through disgusting YouTube stunts and newfangled nut milks to better understand the world of dairy. Here’s what we learned.
Cover image: Getty Images. Graphics and animation by Gabriel Connelly and Hunter French