Thanks to Stacey at ‘Our Compass’ as always;
Source Plant Based News
Why do adults still drink milk? Why do we obtain it from an entirely different species, let alone a being who is not our mother? Why do we continue to guzzle down a drink that leaves us bloated and uncomfortable hours later? It simply does not make sense.
According to evolutionary history and fossil records, the modern human being has inhabited this earth for the past 200,000 years (1).
Historians date the practice of drinking cows’ milk back to the past 8,000 to 10,000 years. (2).
What this tells us is that consuming the milk of another species isn’t instinctual, and our bodies don’t naturally ‘crave’ it. So the question is – which one of our brilliant ancestors looked at a cow’s udder, licked their lips, and started sucking? Perhaps more importantly, why did others join in?
‘A short but riveting history’
Relative to human existence, the history of milk is considerably short – yet it is truly riveting. Power, corruption, greed, mass manipulation—all are present in the evolution of milk in our modern-day society.
Thanks to the bizarre thinking of that early human, most of us are guzzling down a substance not meant for human consumption. It’s time to leave cow’s milk to the textbooks, and of course, to baby cows
Dairy farms organize
Fast-forward through the evolution of lactase persistence in European regions (yes, all early humans were lactose intolerant past their toddler stage), domestication of dairy cows, the invention of cheesemaking, millions of people who died from milk-borne illnesses prior to the invention of pasteurization (a fourth of all food-borne illnesses in the US were attributed to cows’ milk prior to the early 1900s), and the invention of the glass milk bottle, and we find ourselves in 1922 with the seminal passing of the Capper-Volstead Act (3).
This bill gave agricultural industries permission to act together, form organizations, and market their product. While the industry was very much reliant on small farms back in the day, this bill paved the way for the enormous dairy conglomerates and massive milk marketing campaigns of today. Without it, the American people would have never known the phrase: “Got Milk?”.
The popularization of skim milk
Before pressing further, a note on skim milk. Prior to the 1930s, most of it was literally sent downriver. Families who drank milk had one option – whole – but skim milk still existed as a byproduct of the butter-making process.
This ‘waste’ was commonly disposed of by dumping it into rivers throughout the 1920s until the government was forced to put a stop to it due to the horrific odor of spoiled milk that permeated the surrounding areas.
Skim milk powder
It wasn’t until the 1950s that skim milk received some commercial attention, though this was in the form of a dry, powdered, ‘just add water!’ mix (4). As awful as instant milk powder sounds today, we can’t blame our grandparents – instant was all the rage back then.
The industry also had plenty of skim milk to get rid of, as much of it was leftover from WWII when dry milk powder was used as a relief food. To chisel down this surplus, the industry employed skilled marketers to position skim milk as a weight-loss food.
Milk dealers received backing from physicians to pedal this product as a health food, and by the 1950s, skim milk had transformed from a waste byproduct to a trendy weight loss beverage mostly consumed by affluent society (15).
In reality, farmers just need a way to get rid of (and profit of off) the skim milk they had made during the war effort … which tends to be a theme in milk’s history: made too much? Turn to clever marketing.
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