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In the United States, goat’s milk is thought of as an alternative to cow’s milk, but in most areas of the world, the opposite is true. On a global level, more people drink goat’s milk than cow’s milk.
Most people assume that goat’s milk has the same potent musky taste for which goat cheese is notorious. The truth is that good-quality goat milk has a delicious, slightly sweet, and sometimes slightly salty taste.
Goats have played a role in food culture since time immemorial; ancient cave paintings illustrate the hunting of goats. Since goat herding is thought to have evolved around 8000 B.C.E. in the mountains of Iran, goats are considered to be one of the oldest domesticated animals.
Goat’s milk and cheese were revered in ancient Egypt, with some pharaohs supposedly having these foods placed along side the other treasures in their burial chambers. Goat’s milk was also frequently consumed by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Greek mythology tells us the story of the infant god Zeus, who was raised on the milk-filled teats of the goat-nymph Amalthea. The Chinese believed goat’s milk to be an excellent food to maintain general health, and it was employed to treat conditions of the throat and wind pipe. In 1970, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization published Observations on the Goat, a book that provided many useful insights into the history and benefits of goat's milk. In more recent times, European goat's milk producers such as France and the Netherlands have focused on making goat cheeses.
Goat’s milk has many of the same nutritional characteristics as cow's milk. It is a very good source of protein, phosphorus, calcium, riboflavin and biotin. It is also a good source of pantothenic acid and vitamin D.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of goat’s milk is that some people who cannot tolerate cow’s milk are able to drink goat’s milk without any problems. Allergy to cow’s milk has been found in many people with conditions such as recurrent ear infections, asthma, eczema, and even rheumatoid arthritis. Replacing cow’s milk with goat’s milk may help to reduce some of the symptoms of these conditions.
Goat’s milk can sometimes even be used as a replacement for cow’s milk for children who have difficulties with dairy products. Unfortunately goat’s milk is lacking in several nutrients that are necessary for growing infants, so parents interested in goat's milk instead of cow’s milk-based formula for their infants should ask their pediatrician or other qualified healthcare practitioners for recipes and ways of adding these important and vital nutrients. For older children and adults, however, goat’s milk can be an excellent calcium rich alternative to cow’s milk, for in addition to calcium, it contains many of the same nutrients found in cow's milk.
SELECTION & STORAGE
For the freshest, and in areas where it’s legal, raw goat’s milk, go to your local farmer’s market. You can also get farm fresh goat’s milk from a local farm. To find one go to https://www.westonaprice.org/find-nutrient-dense-foods/
To help ensure you are getting fresh, unspoiled goat's milk from the grocery store, it is always best to check the sell by date before you buy your milk. Also, be sure to smell the top of the container to make sure that the milk isn’t spoiled. In some supermarkets or transportation settings, this milk may spend an extended period of time outside refrigeration, thus moving its freshness date forward from that stamped on the container. Select your goat’s milk from the coldest part of the refrigerator case, which is often the lower sections or and or in the back.
Goat’s milk will sour quickly if not refrigerated. Also, do not store goat’s milk in the refrigerator door, since this exposes it to the warmer temperature each time refrigerator is open and closed. Always seal or close the container to avoid the goat’s milk absorbing the aromas of other foods in the refrigerator.
Although goat’s milk is not typically an allergenic food, like cow’s milk it contains the milk sugar lactose and can produce adverse reactions in lactose intolerant individuals.
On a personal note, I fondly remember times at my grandparents small farm, they had goats, chickens, rabbits and even raised a runt pig. As little children, we learned to tend, feed, and even milk the goats, and we enjoyed the fresh milk as well as other things made from it like cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and even soap. I am looking forward to having goats again someday when I get off the road. ~Sara Pingel, FNTP
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