Our current work, better described as the pleasure of learning, is thinking through how an old fashioned dairy farm retains relevance in Costa Rica in the future. When we saw a book like this one to the left, authored by someone we have linked to plenty, we had to dive in. We listened to the author first and then found this item we had missed in the salt a couple months ago:
NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro sat down with author Mark Kurlansky to discuss his new book, Milk!: A 10,000-Year Food Fracas, and unpack some of the controversies surrounding what he calls “the most over-argued food in history.”
Humans, it turns out, are unique in their preference for the dairy drink. “In nature, we aren’t meant to have milk past weaning,” Kurlansky says.
But because of a genetic aberration, many humans can process the sugars found in milk and dairy products well into adulthood.
And while that makes some of us unique among mammals, it doesn’t mean that all humans have those genes. “It’s still only something like 40 percent of the human population that can drink milk past the age of two,” Kurlansky told NPR.
The genetic change is primarily found in white, northern European populations and their descendants. And although it may be Eurocentric to say that all humans can enjoy dairy in the same way, it hasn’t stopped milk from becoming a global industry.
Cultures around the world consume milk from different animals and in different ways. From yak yogurt in Tibet to camel milk ice cream in Dubai, there’s a lot to milk that goes beyond the gallon of 2 percent we find in our grocery stores.
“Cow milk is kind of bland, and we’re kind of used to bland. So if you have sheep milk or goat milk or camel milk,” Kurlansky says, “it has this other dimension of flavor, which is kind of nice if it doesn’t shock you.”
For most of human history, drinking milk was limited to the farm. Because it spoiled so quickly, most milk was turned into products like cheese and yogurt, which could last longer for transport and trading.
It wasn’t until about mid-19th century with the advent of pasteurization and widespread refrigeration, that milk became the ubiquitous drink we think of it as today…
Read the whole article here.