Got an Education in Milk?
Since the days of milkmen in white uniforms, delivering milk in glass bottles, milk has been a staple of the American diet. The average family consumes approximately two gallons of milk each week, adding up to 104 gallons of milk per family per year. Although America in general loves milk, we cannot seem to agree on the best way to serve it, some of the more popular ways to have milk include in cereal, in coffee, with cookies, or as a milkshake. No matter how you like your milk, there are types of milk to fit every personality, from whole milk to 1%, and don’t forget chocolate! Milk has many health benefits, including helping our bodies to maintain strong bones and fight against diseases, including osteoporosis. No matter which type of milk you prefer, or how you prefer to get your daily dose of calcium, it is important to include milk in our daily diet to support healthy growth and development.
It is uncertain which civilization is responsible for milk as a source of food, but some people believe that it originated in the Middle East around 9000 B.C., when people started to domesticate, or raise, animals such as sheep or goats. In some parts of the world, goat and sheep’s milk is still more popular than cow’s milk, which is widely popular in western culture today. The history of milk in the United States began in the 1600s when early colonist brought over cattle from Europe, and by 1884 the classic glass milk bottle was patented by Dr. Henry Thatcher and delivered to the doorsteps of Americans around the country. The history of milk is as rich as its flavor, and many technological advances, including pasteurization, have come together with dairy farms to produce the milk products we know and love today. Learn more about how milk is made and how it can help your body grow strong and healthy.
Milk is a naturally occurring product in most female mammals, including goats, sheep, and cows. From the time most mammals are born, including humans, they rely on milk from their mothers to help develop properly and get the nutrients they need. Although most mammals start out with a love of milk, humans are the only mammal that continues to drink milk into adulthood, most mammals, outgrow their taste for milk, and some animals even lose the ability to digest, or drink, milk as they grow up. Cow’s milk is the most popular variety of milk in the United States. However, in different areas of the world, people prefer to drink sheep or goat’s milk. The most popular breeds of dairy cows in the United States include Holstein, Ayrshire, Jersey, and Brown Swiss. The typical black and white cow that we see on milk cartons is actually a Holstein cow, the most common dairy breed. Interestingly enough, all cows are female, also called heifers. A heifer will produce 200,000 glasses of milk in her lifetime. To produce milk, a cow will spend between six to eight hours per day eating hay, grass, or feed, and drink plenty of water.
Milking a cow is very hard work. Once done primarily by hand, milking is now a job that has been made easier by technology. Cows need to be milked twice a day, or they may become ill, or stop producing milk. A good dairy cow can produce up to 25 gallons of milk each day, adding up to 2,000 gallons of milk each year. Dairy farming is a major industry in the United States, with about 90,000 dairy farms in operation today; although this number has decreased since 1970, when there were 650,000 working dairy farms. The three states that produce the most milk are California, Wisconsin, and New York.
Most Americans choose to buy their milk from their local grocery store. The milk you find in your grocery store cooler has been through a process called pasteurization. Invented by a scientist named Louis Pasteur, Pasteurization is a means of heating milk in order to kill harmful bacteria and make milk products both last longer and safer for people to drink by killing bacteria that is present in the milk. In the United States, the first milk processing plant popped up in Bloomfield, New Jersey, in 1891. Soon after many cities, including Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia began to pass laws that made sure all milk was pasteurized for the health of the consumers. Milk production in the United states increased rapidly and by 1990, approximately 17.2 billion gallons of milk was being produced by in the United States each year; about 8% of the milk produced is used to make ice cream. Other popular milk products include cheese, yogurt, cream, and butter. In order to get America’s milk into supermarket coolers, the product also has to go through another process called homogenization. Because it is a combination of oils and water, milk is homogenized to evenly spread out the fat particles and to give milk its thicker texture, the thickness of milk also depends on how much fat in incorporated into the product, for example, skim milk has a lesser percentage of fat in it than whole milk; that is why skim milk has a more watery texture to it.
The Health Benefits of Milk
Milk has many health benefits, including many vitamins and minerals to keep our bodies strong and healthy. Unfortunately, at least 60% of boys and 85% of girl, ages 9 years old to 18 years old, do not intake enough calcium throughout the day. This can cause problems with joint, bone, and muscle health, both during developing stages and into adulthood. As a great source of calcium, milk helps to prevent bone disorders and breaks. If we do not get the right amount of calcium, our bones can get weak. Weak bones are more noticeable as we grow older, and a continued lack of calcium may make people more at risk for developing osteoporosis. It is important for children to have enough calcium in their diets because when we are young, our bodies are still developing and growing. Drinking milk is a great way to help ensure that as we grow, our bones are staying healthy.
From the farm to your fridge, milk has many uses and can easily be added to any diet. Whether you like chocolate or regular, milk is an easy way to get your body the nutrition it needs to stay healthy. Next time you go to the grocery store, check out the different types of milk, No matter how you choose to get your milk, it is an important part of balanced nutrition for everyone. Mix up your sources of dairy by adding cheese, yogurt, and other milk-based products to your diet to ensure that your body is getting all of the necessary vitamins and nutrients. Milk products are not only great tasting, but great for you, an easy compromise for keeping kids and parents happy and healthy. Bone up on your calcium and dairy knowledge with quizzes, games, recipes, and more.