A look at the decline in American milk consumption…
When’s the last time you had a glass of cow’s milk?
Americans are drinking a lot less milk than they used to. According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, the average person drinks 18 gallons a year. Back in the 1970s it was more like 30 gallons a year. We once hoisted a glass with dinner, soaked our breakfast cereal or dipped into the occasional milkshake. This habitual milk drinking was no accident.
It started in the 1800s, when Americans moved from farms to cities. “First, you had to have the rise of milk trains that would bring milk from the countryside. That milk was refrigerated with ice,” says Melanie DuPuis, a professor at Pace University and author of Nature’s Perfect Food: How Milk Became America’s Drink.
Before that, she says, milk was not a reliable source of nutrition for city dwellers. Nor was it all that safe. In the 1850s there was a major scandal in New York after thousands of babies died from drinking swill milk — the stuff that came from sickly cows, animals fed from the waste of city grain-alcohol distilleries.
The Meadowbrook Farms Dairy milk truck has arrived, and the insulated box — emblazoned with red script and an image of a Holstein cow — sits on Mahoney’s porch awaiting the milk delivery. Sunbeams reflect off the box and the heavy wire bottle carrier the milk man holds, creating a glare across the porch. The milk man takes the empty glass bottles away and replaces them with full versions, processed and bottled 20 miles away in Clarksville, NY.
If you’re a lactose-intolerant European, a new study may help you narrow some of your ancestral roots without paying a cent to Ancestry.com. Contrary to long-held scientific belief that Anatolian farmers introduced milk tolerance to Europe around 6500 BC, a new study in the journal Nature found that Russian herders actually brought milk tolerance to Europe just 4,000 years ago. (And here we were giving flack to Russian cheese.)
“Everyone assumed it came to Europe with the first farmers,” said Dr. Bastien Llamas, one of the co-authors of the study.
A boom in sales of goat milk has some wondering if goat milk —fantastically popular in most of the world, but not so in the U.S.—could one day compete with cow milk in American supermarkets.
Goat milk still trails distantly behind cow milk in the American marketplace and mindset. It just isn’t that easy to swap out one of the most basic essentials in the American kitchen (just ask those who eat gluten-free, or drink tea rather than coffee). But goat milk has had a renaissance in the past decade or so, pushed by a variety of disparate factors, according to the AP. Could it eventually compete with cow milk?
The plight of dairy farmers in upstate New York may sound a little petty when we keep in mind that this year’s early winter storm has already killed 13 people, but what happens to the dairy farmers has a huge effect on the region. New York, you might be surprised to learn, is the fourth-largest dairy producer in the country, after California, Wisconsin, and Idaho. And New York dairy farmers can’t get their milk to market, reports AgNews.
If you don’t eat beef because you feel sorry for those cows in Chick-fil-A ads, then you probably shouldn’t drink milk either. The typical male calf born to a dairy cow becomes veal. The typical female is milked for five years—a quarter of her natural lifetime—then sent to the abattoir to become pet food or low-grade hamburger meat. Elsie the Cow, Borden Dairy Company’s famous cartoon logo, is smiling only because she doesn’t realize that she’s about to get euthanized with a cattle gun.
The old Russian custom of dumping a live frog in a bucket of milk to keep the milk fresh just might make sense.
Frog skins, a handful of recent scientific studies show, are lush sources of antibacterial peptides, including some with the ability to battle such microbial hard cases as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), bane of hospitals and nursing homes. In other words, it just might be that the paddling Russian frog was the next best thing to pasteurization.
Provided, that is, that you think pasteurization is a good thing.