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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lactose-Free Milk and Lots of It

I mention frequently that I learned I was lactose intolerant back in 1978, long before dairy products made without lactose could be found in any supermarket. That's not to impress you with my age or launch into incoherent screeds about how easy you kids have it today. It's more like sheer astonishment at the changes.

Like this week's shopping trip to a local supermarket. The "dairy" case long ago stopped being merely dairy. Or a case. Today it's a bank of vertical refrigerators, six shelves high. Juices of every possible fruit take up three banks at one end, eggs are at the other. In between are milks. Lots of milk, this being a gigantic store, the flagship of the Wegmans chain and the busiest supermarket I know.

And one whole case, top to bottom, was lactose-free milk. Six full shelves of it. No, seven. The next case over had an additional shelf full. Four separate brands of lactose-free milk were represented there, Lactaid, Real Goodness, Hood, and the Wegmans store brand.

When people ask me why they can't find more varieties of lactose-free dairy items I have to tell them that they simply don't sell. Nothing does. Except lactose-free milk. And that seems to be doing fine. Four brands! I remember the first appearance of a lactose-free milk in a supermarket and the first time I saw two brands competing. They might have taken up a shelf between them. They have been times since when I've seriously wondered if the whole market was going to collapse for lack of buyers.

No longer. Apparently we're in good shape for the foreseeable future.

Now you need to start clamoring for lactose-free ice cream. And then start buying it. Wouldn't it be nice to have even one whole shelf in the frozen section for ourselves?

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