The origin of…Milk

“Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer.” Arnold Schwarzenegger

Post 41 Milk

Most milk comes from cows, but milk from goats, camels, buffaloes and reindeer is also consumed. Raw milk goes through a process during which the fat content is adjusted, vitamins are added and potentially harmful bacteria killed.
Humans first learned to consume milk of other mammals following the domestication of animals during the Neolithic Revolution (around 10,000 BC). The domestication of animals began in Southwest Asia (Iran and Afghanistan) from where it spread to Europe and South Asia.
The Ancient Egyptians milked cows, goats and sheep. Many of the people in the countries round Egypt milked donkeys, but the Egyptians did not because the donkey was associated with the god Set. Since milk that was not consumed directly would go sour in a few hours, they turned it into a quark like substance, or butter or cheese.

In the 1600´s the earliest colonists brought cattle to the United States. At first, both production and consumption was small scale, but by 1790 cities like Boston, Philadelphia and New York had become attractive markets for larger scale dairy operations. In 1856 Gail Borden patented a method for making condensed mil by heating it in a partial vacuum. This method both protected the milk from germs in the air and removed much of the water so it could be stored in smaller volume.
Then in 1863 the French biologist and chemist Louis Pasteur invented a method of killing harmful bacteria in beverages and food (he did it with wine) by heating them briefly up to a temperature of about 50-60 °C to kill the microbes. This process became known as pasteurization. In the US many dairy factories opposed pasteurization seeing it as an unnecessary expense, and it wasn’t until 1908 that Chicago became the first major city to enact a law requiring all milk to be pasteurized.
The glass milk bottle was invented by Hervey Thatcher in 1884. “Thatcher’s Common Sense Milk Jar” was sealed with a waxed paper disk. These glass bottles and the milkman bringing them to everybody´s home was a common site, until in 1932 the glass bottle was replaced by plastic-coated paper milk cartons.

In 2012 the biggest cow´s milk producers in the world were the US, India and China accounting for almost 30% of the world production (620 million tonnes).

1. a white liquid produced by a woman to feed her baby or by female animals to feed their young; especially : milk from cows or goats that is used as food by people.
2. a white liquid produced by a plant (source: Merriam Webster).

The English word milk comes from Old English meoluc, from Prot-Germanic meluks, from the Proto Indo European root melg-, meaning to wipe/to rub off, referring to the movement involved in milking an animal.
Dutch milk has the same origins.
The Spanish leche and Italian latte come from Latin lactis, meaning milk.

Milk in other languages:
Dutch: de melk
Spanish: la leche
Italian: il latte


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