Milk is one of the most “complete” foods known to man. This isn’t surprising as the first food that humans ingest is milk that comes from his/her mother. Milk contains proteins, vitamins, amino acids, calcium, digestive enzymes, and many other minerals that are essential to building a strong body. Consuming animal milk started around 9,000 years ago along with man’s ability to domesticate animals. Today, most of the milk consumed comes from cows and it is one of the most consumed liquids in the United States along with coffee and orange juice.
- While cow’s milk is the most common milk consumed today, it is thought that the first milk that came from domesticated animals was from sheep.
- No, chocolate milk does not come from chocolate cows.
- In ancient Rome and Greece, milk was said to be considered a luxury.
- Ninety percent of the world’s milk comes from cows.
- The United States is the world’s largest producer of cows’ milk.
- Due to industrialization, a carton of milk that you’ll find on supermarket shelves can contain milk from thousands of different cows.
Milk Buying Guide
In years gone by, there was only one type of milk: fresh. Today, there are more milk types that you have fingers and toes combined. Here are some of the varieties of milk that you might see on the shelves and what they are exactly.
- Whole Milk – This is your basic cow’s milk or what we know as “regular” milk. This is milk that aside from pasteurization, is as close to raw milk as possible.
- 2% Milk – the percentage refers to the fat content of the milk. The milk undergoes a process in which fat is removed from the milk until only 2% is left. This is commonly used as a creamer for tea as it provides excellent mouth-feel, milky taste, and reduced-fat.
- Low-Fat Milk – This takes the milk removal process a step further and takes out the fat content of the milk until only 1% is left. This is the milk of choice for those on diets or those who are watching their weight.
- Organic Milk / Raw Milk – This type of milk is usually found direct from the producers themselves. What distinguishes this milk from your regular whole milk due to the fact that the cows that produce this type of milk aren’t given any hormones, antibiotics, and are raised to organic standards. The milk product is essentially the same as whole milk, this classification refers more to the rearing of the animal and not to the actual milk product itself.
- Skimmed Milk – This is also known as fat-free milk. Since all of the cream is removed, the texture of this type of milk can be watery. For people trying to lose weight and sticking to a fat-free diet, this
- Lactose-free Milk – This milk has the lactose component taken out so that lactose-intolerant people can enjoy milk. The lactose is taken out by adding an enzyme called lactase which breaks down the lactose. The taste of lactose-free milk is basically the same as whole milk.
- Flavored Milk – This is basically whole milk that has sweeteners and flavorings added to it to make it more attractive to the younger crowd. And no, chocolate milk still doesn’t come from chocolate cows.
- Evaporated Milk – This is whole milk that has around 60% of the liquid content “evaporated” from it, making it a good substitute for dishes that require cream.
- Non-dairy milk – These are “milk” products that come from different nuts and vegetables such as soy, almonds, rice, and others.
Milk Production & Farming in Texas
In the past 20 years, milk production in Texas has steadily been growing. From being 10th in production, Texas has moved up to being the 5th largest milk producer in the United States. Not only has large-scale milk production in the state gone up, but also smaller producers who raise animals and produce milk that is raised organically and humanely. We’ll go and explain why organic is best in the next section but if you’re in Texas, it’s very easy to find organic milk in local stores, coffee shops, and farmers’ markets. More and more local farmsteads are raising animals for organic milk production.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
While preservatives and additives that are directly added to milk products are rare and far between, there are more dangerous chemicals that are in commercially produced milk to be worried about. Growth hormones, antibiotics, and other pesticides can be passed on from the cows to the final milk product. Studies conducted by the FDA has shown 527 different antibiotics, pesticide residues, herbicides, fungicides, detergents, and other chemicals found in milk products from commercial milk production operations.
Commercial production of milk cannot avoid these contaminants as the sheer number of livestock in limited spaces will necessitate the need for antibiotics to prevent disease, different pesticides, and chemicals to make the feed supply stable and affordable.
Milk packaging has evolved with the times. Early milk was packaged in glass bottles, which evolved into clear plastic jugs. Nowadays, milk is usually packed in opaque boxes to protect the contents from light exposure and extend their shelf life.
What can we say about consuming milk? It’s good chilled, warm, and hot. It is good by itself, added to cereal, coffee, milkshakes, and other beverages.
It can be used to add a creaminess to sauces and other dishes. Instead of water, you can use milk to mix with your instant oatmeal to make it richer and creamier. Milk can also be smoothies and fruit shakes to make it smoother and creamier. Milk can also be added to soups, casseroles and other dishes to give it that creamy richness.
Once opened, milk has to be consumed within a week after opening. It has to be stored inside the refrigerator.
Make your Own Chocolate Milk:
If you want to avoid high fructose corn syrup or other additives in chocolate milk, you can easily make your own in a couple of minutes.
Organic Milk / Raw Milk, 3 cups
Cocoa Powder, 2 tablespoons
Confectioners’ Sugar, 2 tablespoons
Vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon
Add everything into a blender and blend until fully mixed. This will take around 30 seconds or so.
Chill or serve on ice.
Notes: This can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, but we’re sure that it won’t last that long.