One of These Things is Not Like the Others

Parents, with school back in session in a week, it’s time to get your brain thinking despite the holiday fog and ready for those homework questions. Let’s look at one common error to get your mind ready for those tricky word problems. 

Southeast Dairy Association - Dairy products

To the left is a picture of dairy products with other foods. Which of these things is not like the others? 

A dairy is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “an establishment for the sale or distribution chiefly of milk and milk products.” Milk, in turn, is said to be “from an animal and especially a cow used as food by people.” So if something is a product of a dairy, and therefore a product using milk, dairy products come from milk. Dairy products would include yogurt, ice cream, butter, and anything else that uses milk. Seems reasonable enough.  

Yet people group a non-dairy product with dairy. Online, in pictures, one food is added to dairy that is not a dairy product. Have you solved what yet? 

The answer: eggs. 

This isn’t an evolutionary question of the chicken or the egg. It isn’t even a question about your favorite breakfast food. The definition of an egg is “the hard-shelled reproductive body produced by a bird and especially by the common domestic chicken,” not the product of a cow. Why are eggs considered dairy by so many? 

Southeast Dairy Association - cheesy egg scrambler

Though incorrect, it’s understandable. People know where each food comes from, but the two are intertwined in many areas of life. Dairy and eggs create delicious breakfasts like a Cheesy Egg Scrambler or Scrambled Egg and Mozzarella Breakfast Pizzas. Adding to the confusion, eggs are found on what is commonly referred to as the dairy aisle. Eggs also come from farms, like milk. We know that it isn’t a cow dropping eggs with her milk, it’s laid by a chicken, but for many consumers, a refrigerated farm product like an egg is a dairy product. In fact, in a survey conducted for The Dairy Alliance in 2018, 55% of surveyed parents believe eggs to be a dairy product. 

While an egg is a great ingredient to add, dairy products and eggs do not come from the same source, nor do they have the same nutrients. Thinking back to the food groups from childhood, it’s easy to remember eggs as being placed next to the image of milk, but even our memories are wrong. According to the USDA food groups, eggs are more like meats and nuts than dairy. No one was out to trick us, but we somehow got it in our heads to place eggs with dairy. 

If you constantly confuse eggs as a dairy product and are seeking tasty ways to enjoy the benefits of dairy each day, there’s one easy step you can take: make eggs a dairy food by adding fresh milk or shredded cheese. Everyone knows the cow didn’t lay the egg, but she can add to its taste. 

Did you pass the first word problem back from break? If not, fuel up and relax. There’s plenty more where that came from for practice.