Milk in Vietnam

I come from a dairy region in Australia, refractionist so I grew up drinking a lot of milk. I credit if for my (almost) unbreakable bones and (nearly) cavity-free teeth. I used it on my cereal and muesli for breakfast every morning, and often drank 600 ml of flavoured milk for lunch or in the afternoon.

Milk comes from cows, or at least I thought it did. In Vietnam, I’m not so sure. I know they have dairy farms somewhere, but I’ve never seen them. I’d like to one day. I wonder if the process is similar to back home?

Shopping for milk in Vietnam it is quite a challenging process if you care at all about what you put into your body. As mentioned earlier, you can get fresh milk although I’ve never seen it. For the most part you are browsing a shelf or four of mostly white and blue cartons, usually labeled in a foreign language, sourced from New Zealand, Australia or Vietnam.  From what I can tell these are all varieties of UHT (Ultra Heat Treated) milk. Not what I used to define as milk.

They all seem to contain chemicals and additives of some kind, so I spend most of my browsing time trying to decode what they are.

High in calcium seems fine to me. Good for the bones. Low fat sounds reasonable in principle, although not how the cow intended her product to be enjoyed, and rather tasteless compared to the real deal. Does it include sugar? Much Vietnamese milk does, and I try to avoid that. I would guess the answer is no due to the “plain milk” label, but I can’t be sure until I try it.

The pack on the right is definitely sugar-free, so that’s good, but it’s got Choline and Taurine, whatever they are. Do I need these? Probably not. Why are they being added to an already very healthy product? Because people are suckers.

A shop named “TH true milk” has recently opened up across the street from my school. I used to think they were telling me there’s was real milk, but that can’t be the case as it contains sugar. “Tuoi” means fresh, so I’m guessing this isn’t UHT, hence the “true” moniker.

Then there’s the topic of coffee to consider. Many people, including me, prefer their Vietnamese coffee white. In fact, I believe the reason coffee here is so good is because of the sweetened condensed milk which gives a rich chocolaty flavor and texture. This country’s ca phe sua da/nom (coffee with milk, iced or hot) craving keeps condensed milk sales churning over, so what is this?

Coffee Enricher
Is it the same thing with a different name? The obsession with being rich might mean that “coffee enricher” is more appealing than more practical, but rather boring “sweetened condensed milk”.

Well, that’s my quick and dirty summary of the milk situation here. If I ever get to a local dairy farm I’ll post my thoughts and images.