Agreenhouse's Reviews > Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages

Milk by Anne Mendelson
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Mar 22, 09

You will never look at the dairy section of the supermarket the same again, but in a good way. I can't help but pick up a container of milk and think of the sheeps and goats grazing near the Tigres-Euphrates River in ancient times that gave us our first dairy products. The first half of the book traces the history of human use of animal milk from the earliest domestication of animals to modern dairy farms. The second half of the book contains recipes that encourage cooks to make choices that go beyond choosing from 1 percent or skim milk. The author is a very enthusiastic advocate of fresh, raw milk products and forms of dairy products from the Middle East and India. She wants people to branch out beyond cow's milk. Supposedly, milk from water buffalo is very tasty. I know you can get a lot of different food products in New York City, but I have yet to come across that.

The diversity of animal sources was interesting, especially learning how certain sections of the world never turn to cows for milk. Until refrigeration and modern transportation, fresh milk was a rarity all over the world, reserved for those who live close enough to milk a cow. Dairy products like yogurt and sour cream were more common.

The book talked a little about the history of milk in New York and other American cities. People looking to earn a quick buck turned to fraudelent milking practices. Think of them as Bernie Milk Madoffs. They would take cows into the city and put them into a cramped space next to distilleries. They would feed the cows the leftover grains from the distilleries, which led to very unnutritious milk. They would add whiteners to make the milk look like it was supposed to. Many people got sick and died from this "swill milk" until the authorities and politicians listened to the public and cracked down on the practice.

Hope you are enjoying your morning coffee, perhaps with a little cream.
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