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Global finds

Malia Politzer
Editor of International Investigative Journalist
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piqer: Malia Politzer
Saturday, 06 April 2019

The Embattled History Of Milk

I've always been pretty fascinated by the history of food—how and when different ingredients and dishes were introduced to different countries, how they were incorporated into different cultural dishes, and why we eat what we do.

But I'd never thought about the history of milk until I discovered A Taste of the Past, a podcast that explores the history of food. In this particular episode, host Kat Johnson interviews Mark Kurlansky, author of the book Milk! A 10,000 Year Food Fracas, which is about milk's curious and crucial role in cultural evolution, politics, and economics, from antiquity to the present day.

If you think about it, it's pretty fascinating that milk—a food that most humans don't have the ability to digest after the age of two—has become such a staple in diets throughout the world. 

He reveals that the breastfeeding v. bottle debate is one that's winded through history, with animal milk featuring as substitute human baby food in many different cultures when wet nurses were unavailable: Romans bottle fed their babies with cow milk, while other cultures preferred buffalo, goat, sheep, horse, camel or even seal. Some French orphanages even kept goats and donkeys for "direct feeding".

The interview also touches upon some of the fundamental milk-related debates that have been going on for centuries, including topics that touch upon pasteurisation, the economics of dairy, and why we even drink the stuff at all. 

For anyone curious about the role of food in our lives, cultures, and economies, this podcast is definitely worth a listen. 

The Embattled History Of Milk
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