View Full Version : Whose idea was milk anyway?

Sep 29th, 2007, 12:42 AM
There might already be a thread like this, but I was wondering whose brilliant idea it was to drink milk and use it for other stuff in the first place.

I mean, think about it logically: female mammals have milk. Even humans do. That milk is intended for their young. Whose idea was it to take a cow's milk (intended for her calf) and drink it? I once heard drinking milk compared to "vicariously suckling a cow" in a book called Fit For Life. Eeewwww!!!

I guess I'm not really asking for the specific person or persons who decided to drink and use milk for food. But I more want to vent and talk about it and get others' input on the whole idea.

What do you think?

Sep 29th, 2007, 01:06 AM
For people in the old days - a few thousand years ago - milk was greatly aiding to their survival. Any extra source of food (especially energy and protein) was very welcome. The people who started the tradition had greater chances of surviving and getting offspring. This lead to the spread of the tradition. Those who didn't keep animals weren't as competitive because they didn't have the same dietary base and were over time mostly eradicated by competition or simply adapted.

Since cows were self sufficient (ie didn't need to be fed) they were easy to keep and actually added to the food base.

What they thought when they first came up with the idea? "Hey, Sue! You've got milk, think that cow's got it too?" Okay, a more serious possibility: it's possible they killed a cow who had just given birth and that some milk sipped from her tits. They probably tasted it and someone came up with the idea of having a milk factory (ie a cow) in the camp. In order to get that they probably had to raise a calf from birth since a grown animal caught in the wild would have been terrified of humans.

According to Wikipedia there are 1 300 000 000 head of cattle today.

pat sommer
Jan 31st, 2008, 10:32 AM
more likely, drinking liquid milk came later. First came the 'cheese' in a freshly killed baby's stomach. When that stomach was then used as a cooking vessel for milk of it's mother, the result would then also be curds/cheese.
Add plenty of salt and there is a preserved food.

And, yes, the herdsmen did drive out many peaceful settled peoples of Eurasia. I guess that makes me too the end product of much aggression toward human and non-human alike.

Ain't evolution fun!

Jan 31st, 2008, 09:43 PM
Whomever got milk first, it most likely happened only in North-Western Eurasia (and perhaps the Subcontinent?).

People in Eastern Eurasia, Africa, Oceanasia, and the Americas don't drink milk indigenously, and as such, most of the decents from those people don't have the mutation to produce lactose enzyme past weening in toddler-hood.

The only reason why milk is popular now is due the cultural hegemony of the "West". If East Asia was in charge, well, people might be slightly more prone to eating dogs or shark fin, but probably not milk products.

Jan 31st, 2008, 10:08 PM
I've heard drinking cows milk originated in Scandanavia. This sort of makes sense if you look at intolerance statistics. Scandanavians have the lowest milk intolerance levels when compared to Asians, Africans, and Middle Easterners.

Jan 31st, 2008, 10:14 PM
and it makes sense if you think about indigenous peoples needing to build up fat for treacherous winters.

though nowadays....

Jan 31st, 2008, 11:00 PM
and it makes sense if you think about indigenous peoples needing to build up fat for treacherous winters.

though nowadays....

All I know is that the indigenous people that I'm related to just killed fatty rodents and used llama wool through the winters. They were in the high altitudes. I know that the Inuit don't use milk, and they've got the most cold to deal with.

There just isn't a need for milk, except for that it might have a biolgical advantage in temperate to cool climates where farming took over from foraging and a cows could be domesticated.

I doubt that indigenous peoples that were nomadic (ie. most of northern north america and the southern extreme of south america) would benefit much from milk. Only farming societies could really deal with domesticated animals nessary for milk. And then, it would be only farming societies where the climate allowed for it.

I bet this answer lies in comparing Asia farming cultures that thrived without animal milks, and comparative European cultures with similar climates and farming habits where milk production was the norm. That's a PhD paper topic for anyone interested... ;)