Milk and its various avatars
Originally published in the Journal de Montréal on April 3, 2010.
For over 7,000 years now, humans have been consuming the milk of certain mammals – cows, sheep, goats, camels, etc. But since milk turns sour when it is left standing, it was only consumed in a processed form, like butter, cheese and yogurt.
It’s only during the 19th century that people started distributing milk outside farms, thanks to the advent of rapid transport and the introduction of pasteurization. This heat treatment enables milk to be preserved for longer periods of time.
Milk contains many vitamins and minerals including calcium (intrinsic) and vitamin D (added) that are essential for the growth of healthy bones. It’s based on these facts that Canada’s Food Guide advises adults between the ages of 19 and 50 to consume 2 servings of milk products daily and teenagers and people above 51 years (who have greater risks of osteoporosis) to consume 3 servings a day.
People suffering from lactose intolerance, which is the inability to digest this sugar found in milk, should try goat’s milk – which contains less lactose – or other ‘lactose-free’ types. These people are normally able to tolerate yogurt, as it also contains very little lactose.
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