Inside The Indiana Megadairy Making Coca-Cola's New Milk : The Salt Coca-Cola got a lot of attention in November when it announced it was going into the milk business. In fact, its extra-nutritious milk product was invented by some dairy farmers in Indiana.
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Inside The Indiana Megadairy Making Coca-Cola's New Milk

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Inside The Indiana Megadairy Making Coca-Cola's New Milk

Inside The Indiana Megadairy Making Coca-Cola's New Milk

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/372664332/373038473" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Coca-Cola got a good bit of attention last month when it announced it was going into the milk business and not just any milk - nutritious, reformulated super milk.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE COLBERT REPORT")

STEPHEN COLBERT: It's like they got Frankenstein to lactate.

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: Stephen Colbert made fun of Coke's new milk on his show.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE COLBERT REPORT")

COLBERT: And if this product doesn't work out, they can always reintroduce milk classic.

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: But in fact, the idea for this product didn't come from Coke. It was originally the brainchild of some people who run a huge high-tech dairy farm in Indiana - a farm that is also a theme park. NPR's Dan Charles went for a visit.

DAN CHARLES, BYLINE: Driving south from Chicago to Indianapolis on I 65, just when the flat endless fields of lulled you into an unthinking stupor -Americana alert. There's a tank truck parked like a billboard alongside the road - painted on it - the cryptic words - we dairy you to Exit 200. Fifty yards later, another tank truck billboard - we doubled dairy you. And then, a third tank with two huge fiberglass cows mounted on top of it. It's an invitation to America's one and only mega-dairy tourist attraction.

TERRY TRACY: Well, good morning. I want to welcome you to Fair Oaks Farms. This is one of the largest farms in the United States.

CHARLES: Terry Tracy is my guide to Fair Oaks Farms. The whole operation, he explains, covers 16,000 acres. There are 37,000 cows divided among 11 separate milking locations. At the visitor center, there's a small amphitheater where you can watch through a glass wall as cows give birth. A small bus takes visitors to the working part of the farm right down the middle of a barn that's almost 500 yards long.

TRACY: The cows are not confined within the pens. They pick their own bed, eat and drink whatever they want and move around freely.

CHARLES: We see cows eating, standing around - mostly lying in their stalls on beds of sand. We stop at the so-called milking parlor and watch from a balcony as the cows, one by one, step on to a huge rotating turntable to be milked - sensors identify each cow and computers record how much milk she's producing.

TRACY: Take a look. They're calm, cool, collect - exactly what these farmers want them to be.

CHARLES: Fair Oaks is the frontier of dairying. The people who run this place are so ambitious, they're even changing the milk itself in partnership with Coke. It's an idea that began years ago when two of the founders of Fair Oaks, Mike and Sue McCloskey, were running a big dairy in New Mexico. They ran into a problem with bad water and had to buy some expensive membranes to filter out impurities. Sue McCloskey said it got them thinking. What could filters do with milk?

SUE MCCLOSKEY: Is there something else that we can do with this milk to give it a premium value that we're not thinking about?

CHARLES: They realized filters can divide raw milk into its different parts - protein, lactose, minerals, water. And then, you can put the parts back together but in different proportions. You can make a new recipe for milk, maybe even a better one.

SUE MCCLOSKEY: And I remember sitting down with Mike, and we were talking about this. And I told him listen, if you can make a milk that for me, as a woman - I could get all of my calcium and a bunch of my protein in one glass or one serving - I mean holy mackerel - that would be the most awesome thing.

CHARLES: And they created it - a kind of milk with extra protein and calcium but no lactose. One supermarket chain in Texas sells it as Mootopia. It tastes like a slightly thicker, richer version of milk. Now Coca-Cola is on board. It has joined forces with Fair Oaks Farms and the cooperative that owns it, Select Milk Producers. Together, they're launching that line of milk-derived milk alternatives next month. Dan Charles, NPR News.

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