Friday 5 August 2016

Oatly - mostly waterly

Did my usual stint with Pat the Salt, former mariner and The Beloved's aged father, last weekend. He has a lot of carers who all do their bit towards his safety, welfare and maintenance. When I arrive on Sunday afternoons for our boy's night in, I have always been able to cobble together a dinner from what I find in and behind the fridge. At home on the mountain, we live a rather simple life on the food front compared to what I find in the store cupboard at Pat's. There are, for example, three different packets of Ahh! Bisto Gravy Granules - just add boiling water, all approaching their Sell By Date but their Table of Contents is too complex to parse for you here. In the fridge I discovered a carton of Oatly oat drink which I'm guessing is a milk substitute for those who are, or think they are, lactose intolerant. It pours out a very pale beige and tastes alright, distinctly oaty Avena sativa  although that might just be the power of suggestion.  I could imagine pouring some on my cornflakes if I ate them, or even on my porridge to subject my tum to an oat blitz.

Like Benecol and American Sandwich Slices Oatly is another product where water is the primary ingredient. Although I rage about solid 'food' where water is the principal constituent, I row back a little for Oatly because milk is mainly water too. The difference is that milk is made by enzymes, and 100 million years of evolution, in a mammal's mammary gland. After a century of food science, we have only the most rudimentary knowledge of how the concoction is made. In the Oatly factory in Sweden there is a much more precision and probably more uniformity in making the product, than in Daisy the Cow's udder. Daisy ate a lot of weird stuff in the previous days grazing and may be developing a case of mastitis in one of her quarters. The phytochemicals, bacteria and somatic cell count [bloboprev] will all add to the taste of this morning's milk. If Daisy and her sisters have been in among the ramsons Allium ursinum, there will be a distinct whiff of garlic [it's the allyl methyl sulfide, silly] off the milk. And if Daisy is "AB00456", never sees grass from inside her slatted shed, and is fed fish meal because it's dirt cheap and full of protein, then the milk will smell of kippers especially if you heat it up for cocoa.

This is Oatly: Oat base (water, oats 10%), rapeseed oil, calcium, salt, vitamins (D2, riboflavin and B12). That's pretty simple really compared to some of the other food products I've reviewed. The oil is presumably added to give a more milky mouth-feel and stop it tasting like very thin unsalted porridge. And I don't think I'm going to object to the added vitamins.  Although the people who can afford Oatly are unlikely to be vitamin deficient. Oatly havre dryck sells for €1,40/lt, effectively twice the cost of regular cow's milk at €0.75/lt. I can't imagine a family who buys dinner in KFC and washes it down with Oatly. But Oatly is as much a lifestyle choice as a lactose-free milk substitute. The carton is covered with chat from the marketeers "that would make other drinks exceptionally jealous but since it is made of Swedish oats and Swedish oats are incredibly humble, well then jealously is not an issue". Those Scandinavians are having sense of humour, no?  I think I'll carry on with the milk, not too much, made from plants by cows.

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