Milk, new raw materials for food 2020


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Cow's milk is a familiar product of every family in the world. There have been many campaigns calling for the need for cow's milk to nourish children. But is it the same as the century-old scam when the whole world mistook that eating carrots would help brighten your eyes after Britain's PR activity? We don’t have an exact answer. But it is undeniable that, with its outstanding characteristics, the types of nut milk are becoming a growing trend in the world.

In the spring of 2018, New York was gripped by a sudden, very particular and, for some, calamitous food shortage. Gaps appeared on grocery shelves. Coffee shops put out signs, turning customers away. Twitter and Instagram brimmed with outrage. The truly desperate searched from Williamsburg to Harlem, but it seemed undeniable: New York was out of oat milk.

It wasn’t just New York, in fact. The entire US was suffering from a shortage of Oatly, a Swedish plant milk whose rapid rise from obscure digestive health brand to the dairy alternative of choice had caught even Oatly by surprise. Since its US launch in 2016, Oatly had gone from supplying a handful of upscale New York coffee shops to more than 3,000 cafes and grocery stores nationwide. The company had ramped up production by 1,250%, but when I spoke to CEO Toni Petersson in late summer, they were still struggling to meet demand. “How do we supply when the growth is this crazy?” Petersson said.

Alternative milk is the choice for your body?

We are all born milk drinkers. Babies’ guts produce the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose, the sugar in breastmilk (and cow’s milk), into the simpler sugars glucose and galactose. But for the majority of humans, production of the enzyme lactase plummets after weaning. “From a human perspective – no, to go further than that, from a mammalian perspective – the norm is to be able to tolerate your mother’s breast milk, and then as you get past infancy, to stop producing lactase and become lactose intolerant,” said Adam Fox, a consultant paediatric allergist at Guy’s and St Thomas’s hospitals, and one of the UK’s leading food allergy experts. “Then you’ve got a small group of humans that have a mutation which means they maintain production of lactase into adulthood. Northern Europeans, the Masai [in east Africa], some Arab groups as well. But that’s the exception, not the rule.”

Even in northern Europe, milk as we know it is a recent phenomenon. Fresh milk, left unrefrigerated, spoils quickly and can harbour a variety of deadly pathogens, including E Coli and tuberculosis. For most of history, it was either consumed within moments of milking, or processed as cheese or yogurt. Few drunk milk in its liquid form. “The Romans considered it a sign of barbarism,” said Mark Kurlansky, author of Milk! A 10,000-Year Food Fracas. “The only people who drank milk were people on farms because they were the only ones who could get it fresh enough.” (Even then, cow’s milk was considered inferior to alternatives such as goat or donkey.) In the 19th century, “swill milk” – so-called because cows were fed the filthy runoff from inner-city breweries, turning their milk blue – was linked with thousands of infant deaths. Only in the early 20th century, with the introduction of mandatory pasteurization – in which milk is heated to kill off any bacteria before bottling – did milk become safe enough for most people to drink regularly.