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Cultures of Milk

Cultures of Milk

Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    Cultures of Milk
    Book Description:

    Andrea Wiley contrasts the practices of the world's leading milk producers, India and the United States. In both countries, milk is considered to have special qualities. Drawing on ethnographic and scientific studies, popular media, and government reports, she shows that the cultural significance of milk goes well beyond its nutritive value.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-36969-6
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology, History, Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. 1 Introduction: Cultures of Milk
    (pp. 1-24)

    Milk. Cheese. Yogurt. These products have been a mainstays of the diets of northern Europeans since cattle were domesticated in the region about 8,000 years ago. The proportions of consumption of each have changed over time, most notably with the rise of fresh milk consumption in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but it is fair to say that when most people think about dairy products they are envisioning them as part of European cuisines, produced by placid large-bodied black-and-white Holstein or fawn-colored Jersey cows grazing in verdant pastures, and consumed by tall, robust, light-skinned people. As a representation of...

  5. 2 A Brief Social History of Milk Consumption in the United States
    (pp. 25-52)

    The historical roots of milk drinking in India and the United States are thousands of years apart. In India, culinary and subsistence practices around milk date from the early Indus Valley civilization (3000–1500 BCE), while in the United States, these were introduced in the seventeenth century during early European colonization efforts. There was no indigenous dairy tradition, as Native American societies kept no large domesticated mammals. The countries do share a legacy of colonialism by Great Britain, although formal control by the British was later in India (1858–1947) than it was in the United States, and actual colonization...

  6. 3 A History of Milk in India
    (pp. 53-81)

    The relatively recent history of milk usage in the United States contrasts with that of India, which had indigenous bovines suitable for domestication and early experience making and using dairy products. As a result, dairy culture was deeply embedded in Indian society and culinary traditions, but despite its legacy and the more recent efforts of Operation Flood to boost production, twentieth-century trends indicate very low per capita milk and dairy product production and consumption levels compared to the United States (see Figure 1.7). However, India has been experiencing an upswing in intake over the past few decades, while milk consumption...

  7. 4 Diversity in Dairy: Cows, Buffalo, and Nonmammalian Milks
    (pp. 82-112)

    Among countries with large-scale milk production, India is unique insofar as most milk comes not from cows, but water buffalo. Consistent with mid-twentieth-century patterns, buffalo currently contribute 58 percent of the total milk supply (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 2013), and the economic literature on India’s dairy industry extols the value of buffalo milk compared to that from the indigenous zebu cow. Yet an alternative discourse champions the cow as the superior animal, referencing the sacredness of this bovine to Hindus and its milk-giving properties as an important aspect of its holiness. Within anthropology, the cow’s sacred status...

  8. 5 Milk as a Childrenʹs Food: Growth and the Meanings of Milk for Children
    (pp. 113-146)

    The idea that childrenshoulddrink milk makes intuitive sense—the first and only food of infants is mother’s milk, and so substituting other milk for breast milk, augmenting the diet of a nursing infant, or transitioning a baby or toddler to another animal’s milk after weaning seems like a reasonable way to approach the nourishment of young children. Milk from other mammals such as cows, water buffalo, or goats and sheep has long been considered a particularly appropriate food for children, at least among populations with traditions of keeping these animals. Feeding the milk of another maternal mammal is...

  9. 6 Conclusion: Milk, Biology, and Culture in India and the United States
    (pp. 147-162)

    What is to be gleaned from this exploration and comparison of the dairy cultures of India and the United States? Clearly the two regions share a dairy culture, where milk and milk products are considered normal and normative parts of the diet and dairy production and its ancillary economic activities make up a sizeable portion of national agricultural economies. This dairy culture ideal stems from different historical sources and is tethered to each country’s contemporary social institutions, yielding some important points of contrast. Despite their shared “lactophilia” and normative views of dairy production and consumption, milk drinking falls well short...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 165-168)
  11. References
    (pp. 169-186)
  12. Index
    (pp. 187-193)