How Milk Became a Staple

Cheese and butter go back a long way as methods of preserving milk. But fresh milk was considered baby food, or a boost for growing children, through most of history. Only about a hundred years ago did milk drinking become common among adults. That was because of the convergence of several trends around the beginning of the 20th century. First, the milk trade became regulated and safer (see our previous articles on that development). Then there was the craze for healing through nutrition, which led to the development of cereals, served with milk (see our previous article on that). And there was the Temperance movement, with groups trying to get men to drink anything besides alcohol (which we also covered). Read more about these trends and how they led to people rushing out to buy milk before a snowstorm hits, at BBC Future. -via mental_floss

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

Memories of riding on the milk man's wagon when they used them during WW2 because of gasoline rationing. Was cool for the milk man as the horse would walk down the street a ways as the milkman was making deliveries. It's also how I learned to "hit the ground running" for real. After rationing ended they went back to trucks and we were not allowed to ride in them.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
  1 reply
BBC spouts some real nonsense from time to time, and this is one of those. Up til 1880, the MAJORITY of the US workforce were farmers. There were farms everywhere, and those farmers drank (and sold) plenty of milk. Converting milk into cheese is a huge amount of wasted effort compared to just consuming it directly when possible, so you only do that for the excess supply. If not for the fact that our European ancestors SURVIVED on the calories they got from milk, we'd all be lactose intolerant, today. If it was all cheese (which is lower in lactose), the gene mutation which caused adult lactase production wouldn't have spread so prolifically through the population.

There may have been a dip in milk consumption at the start of urbanization, when increasing numbers of people couldn't get fresh milk locally, but their claim is much more sweeping and ridiculous than that... There were some periods in western history where adults mostly drank alcoholic beverages (small beer, wine, grog, etc.), before we discovered other ways to make polluted water safe to drink, but that has nothing specifically to do with milk.

Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
When I was growing up, milk delivery was made by a guy in a motorcycle. He'd come up to the gate and pour milk onto a pot that we'd carry out. He'd drive away, and we'd go to the kitchen to boil that milk in said pot. This was before we got a supermarket nearby and could buy milk in cartons.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.
Click here to access all of this post's 4 comments

Email This Post to a Friend
"How Milk Became a Staple"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More