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Soda drink freedom protests and souring milk prices

Published: Thursday, July 26 2012 9:54 a.m. MDT

Cans of Pepsi and Coke are shown in a news stand refrigerator display rack in a New York file photo from April 22, 2005. Both soda drinks and milk are in the news as restrictions, taxes and higher costs make it harder to quench thirst.

Mark Lennihan, Associated Press

NEW YORK — Soda and milk are having a hard time these days.

The New York Times, for example, reported on New York City's proposed restrictions on the sale of large sugary drinks: "Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has said the restrictions would help reduce the city's runaway obesity rates and prevent diseases like diabetes and hypertension, which the health department has linked to consumption of high-calorie sweetened drinks."

But trying to limit the size of drinks to 16 ounces is being met with some opposition, according to the New York Times: "The American soft-drink industry arrived at City Hall on Monday to protest (the restrictions). … One libertarian activist held a handmade sign written in the Coca-Cola Co. font. 'My body, my choice,' it read."

NBC News reports: "Men who drink sugar-sweetened beverages, including sodas and non-carbonated fruit drinks, may have a higher risk of heart attack, a new study shows." One a day gives a 20-percent increased risk of heart attack, two a day gives a 42 percent increase and three a 69 percent increased risk.

The Whittier Daily News in Whittier, Calif. reported how the financially-failing city El Monte is considering imposing a tax on businesses that sell sodas and other sugary drinks — one cent an ounce.

And that can add up if a new Gallup poll is correct that, "Nearly half of Americans, 48 percent, report drinking at least one glass of soda per day … "

The average amount those soda drinkers drink is 2.6 glasses a day.

Fifty-two percent of Americans said they drink no soda.

"Despite that," Gallup said, "there is essentially no difference in the self-reported weight situation of Americans who drink two or more glasses of soda compared with those who drink none: About four in 10 of each group says they are either very or somewhat overweight. Those who drink one soda per day are slightly more likely to classify themselves as overweight. This might be explained by heavier soda drinkers consuming more diet soda than those who drink only one soda per day; however, the current survey question did not specify the type of soda consumed."

Presumably, those 52 percent of non-soda drinkers consume some cold tasty milk instead. But dairy products have also hit on hard times.

An AP story talked about how smaller dairies are going under because of low milk prices and higher feed and fuel costs: "The number of dairy farms nationally has dropped from nearly 92,000 in 2002 to less than 70,000 in 2007, according to the last agricultural census, which is being updated this year."

But that was in May.

USA Today looked at the heat and drought since that time and how it will cause milk and cheese prices to go up.

"Temperatures in the 90s and above mean cows give less milk," USA Today reported, "and sky-high feed prices are making it more expensive to feed them. Add to that the cost dairies must pay for fans and sprinkler systems to keep the animals cool during long hot days and nights."

USA Today reports that Mary Ledman, chief analyst with the Daily Dairy Report in Libertyville, Ill., thinks that by August the cost of a gallon of milk could go up by 10 to 15 cents. Milk prices are low now because of the mild winter and spring, but by Christmas it could be 25 cents more.

Roger Hoskin, an agricultural economist with the Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, told USA Today there won't be people standing in line to get milk. But, he said, "you'll see less cheese on pizzas and in salad bars."

There is some good news, of sorts, for the simplest drink of all. MarketWatch reports on a great new investment: Water, the "new gold." "What happens in the next 40 years when another three billion people come into the world?" MarketWatch said. "Imagine adding 75 million people every year, six million a month, 200,000 every day, all demanding more and more water to drink, to shower, to cook, to everything. All guzzling down the New Gold that's getting ever scarcer."

EMAIL: mdegroote@desnews.com TWITTER: @degroote FACEBOOK: facebook.com/madegroote

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