Milk: Is it that Important?


Milk is considered a drink of great importance in our society. We have gotten our calcium from this staple food for many years. Having a glass of milk with breakfast, lunch, or dinner was and still is something we deem normal in the United States. Before natural disasters hit, people run to the store to stock up on the essentials; toilet paper, bread, juice, and of course, milk. We drink it in our coffee, with cookies, use it in cooking, and so on. How has milk occupied this curious place in our society?

In the article How Did Milk Become a Staple Food?, Veronique Greenwood states “In Europe and the United States in the 19th Century, the people who were supposed to consume cows’ milk regularly were primarily children. A tall, frosty glass of the stuff alongside every person’s breakfast plate would have been decidedly strange.” If you really think about milk consumption, it is very peculiar. Who was the first to try cow’s milk? No other animals on this planet drink another one’s milk, except humans. Even so, a woman’s breast milk is only consumed by babies, suggesting milk in general is only meant for very young children and animals.


Over the years, milk has been tempered with. When talking about the production, Greenwood states “[milk]…more dangerous to consume as it moved farther from the farm where it was produced, a breeding ground for bacteria and sometimes adulterated with chalk and water by unscrupulous re-sellers.” Although humans eat products such as cheese and butter, they are preserved, whereas milk has to be consumed while it is still fresh. However, in the past decade or so, milk has said to be a good source of calcium, especially good for bone growth in children. Is there actually any proof of this? At the end of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, food was “complicated and corrupt” (Greenwood), however milk was considered healthy, natural and simple. Milk contains protein, carbohydrates, and fat, components all needed for the human body, so it was no surprise it was considered a perfect drink.


The demand for milk was (and still is) so high that farmers were producing more than they could sell. Today, the “abundance of fat in whole milk, especially, has raised eyebrows.” The question arises as to “is it just as healthy to not have milk?” Since milk has been raising questions in the media recently, some may think it may be time to find a different staple drink. It seems we constantly find new food products to deem the newest “healthiest thing out there,” such as a green smoothie. One may ask, “will milk ever be erased from our society?”



Author: ninashepperson

I am a senior at Wheaton College MA, majoring in Film and New Media Studies with a minor in Studio Art.

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