Milk is a nutrient-rich, white liquid food made by mammals, like cows, dogs, and humans.
All mammals, including humans, will normally produce milk to feed their offspring until they are ready for solid food.
Milk has many nutrients to help babies grow and be healthy.
Almost all the milk now consumed in Western countries is from the cow, and milk and milk products have become important articles of commerce. Other important sources of milk are the sheep and goat, which are especially important in southern Europe and the Mediterranean area; the water buffalo, which is widely domesticated in Asia; and the camel, which is important in the Middle East and North Africa.
Milk is essentially an emulsion of fat and protein in water, along with lactose (milk sugar), minerals, and vitamins. These constituents are present in the milk of all mammals, though their proportions differ from one species to another and within species.
According to the National Dairy Council, milk is filled with nine essential nutrients that benefit our health:
• Calcium: Builds healthy bones and teeth; maintains bone mass
• Protein: Serves as a source of energy; builds/repairs muscle tissue
• Potassium: Helps maintain a healthy blood pressure
• Phosphorus: Helps strengthen bones and generate energy
• Vitamin D: Helps maintain bones
• Vitamin B12: Maintains healthy red blood cells and nerve tissue
• Vitamin A: Maintains the immune system; helps maintain normal vision and skin
• Riboflavin (B2): Converts food into energy
• Niacin: Metabolizes sugars and fatty acids
The primary types of milk sold in stores are: whole milk (3.5% fat), reduced-fat (2%), low-fat (1%), fat-free and lactose-free.
Whole milk is actually only about 3.5 percent fat. The reason it’s called “whole milk” has less to do with its fat content, than the fact that it’s comparatively unadulterated. As the Dairy Council of California puts it, whole milk is “the way it comes from the cow before processing.
Humans almost certainly didn’t drink cow’s milk before about 10,000 years ago. That’s about when cattle were domesticated. This gave people access to cattle through their life cycle and would have allowed them to start collecting milk.
Throughout the world, more than six billion people consume milk and milk products. Over 750 million people live in dairy farming households.
Some people are not able to digest lactose, the sugar in milk, after they are weaned, because they do not produce enough of an enzyme known as lactase. Lactase is needed to digest milk properly.
The most expensive milk on the market comes fresh from Japan’s Nakazawa Foods for a whopping $43 a quart – more than 30 times the average cost of milk. Supposedly this milk has special stress-relieving qualities. The secret behind its qualities is that the milk is taken from cows only once a week at dawn when the animals release higher levels of hormone melatonin; qualities that you definitely need in milk that you are paying so much money for!
American gangster Al Capone fought to have expiration, or “sell by,” dates put on milk bottles, supposedly after one of his relatives became sick from drinking milk that had expired. But his grandniece gave us a more likely reason: Al Capone was looking for a legitimate business that could fund his lifestyle after the end of Prohibition. It was believed that all stamping equipment for milk expiration dates was under his control.
June Dairy Month started out as a way to distribute extra milk during the warm months of summer. The commemoration was established in 1937 by grocer organizations sponsoring “National Milk Month.” By 1939, June became the official “dairy month.”
A 35% – 50% fat concentration is common among many species of whale as the higher fat percentage allows the whales milk to travel through the water without breaking up. The thick milk is often referred to as having a toothpaste like consistency.
The hooded seal produce the fattiest known milk, with more than 60 percent fat. By contrast, the black rhinoceros has the skimmest milk on the fat spectrum, only about 0.2 percent fat. Human breastmilk has about 3 to 5 percent fat in it.
Following up on an ancient Russian way of keeping milk from going sour — by putting a frog in the bucket of milk — scientists have identified a wealth of new antibiotic substances in the skin of the Russian Brown frog.
Alternative “milks” made from plants like soya, rice or almonds are increasingly popular. These alternatives are often vegan-friendly and can be suitable for people who are allergic to milk, or
intolerant of it.
A substance secreted by pigeons to feed their young is called “crop milk” and bears some resemblance to mammalian milk, although it is not consumed as a milk substitute.