An Overview of The History of Milk Usage

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Words: 1232 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: May 24, 2022

Words: 1232|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: May 24, 2022

Milk is the perfect beverage to dunk cookies in, wash down cereal with, and is delectable when combined with cocoa powder. Milk is also the key ingredient in yogurt, ice cream, and macaroni and cheese. Before milk became the foundation of many delicious meals and desserts, milk had to go through many alterations. This paper will explore the composition of milk, the historical transformation of milk, the production of milk in the United States

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The top four components of milk are water, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Other components such as vitamins, minerals, and enzymes are found in milk but in small amounts. The largest component found in milk is water which makes up about 88% of milk. Another component of milk is a protein which makes up about 3.3% of milk. The two major types of protein found in milk are casein and whey. About 80% of the proteins in milk are made of casein. The other 20% of proteins found in milk are made of whey. Fats are another component of milk. Fats make up 3.4% of milk. These fats, or fatty acids, are composed of a chain of carbon atoms accompanied by hydrogen atoms lining the outside of the chain and a carboxylic group at the end of the fatty structure. Fatty acids only have two classifications: either saturated or unsaturated. Saturated fats have single carbon bonds whereas unsaturated fats have double carbon bonds. Milk fats consist of 70% saturated fats, 28% monounsaturated fats, and 2.3% polyunsaturated fats.

The second-largest milk constituent is carbohydrates. Milk is composed of 4.9% carbohydrates. Carbohydrates, also known as saccharides, are compound structures made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. The three types of carbohydrates are monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides. Monosaccharides are the simplest form of sugar. Since a monosaccharide is not a form of a molecular compound, it is used as the basic building block for other carbohydrates. Glucose, galactose, and fructose are examples of monosaccharides. When two monosaccharide molecules are united, they form a disaccharide molecule. A polysaccharide molecule is formed when more than two monosaccharide molecules are united. Polysaccharides are complex sugars due to their long chains of monosaccharide compounds. Whereas monosaccharide and disaccharide molecules are simple sugars since they are composed of no more than two monosaccharides. Examples of polysaccharides include starches, fibers, and glycogen. Disaccharide examples include maltose, lactose, and sucrose. Lactose is the type of carbohydrate found in milk. Lactose is formed by the union of glucose and galactose.

There are different varieties of milk. Whole milk, low-fat milk, and skim milk are the three most common types of milk. The percent of fat in whole milk cannot fall under 3.25%. The percent of fat in skim milk cannot go below 0.5%. The percent of fat in low-fat milk cannot exceed 0.5-2.0%. Milk is produced in a variety of different ways. The three common milk production processes are pasteurization, homogenization, and vitamin fortification. According to Chris Cavette, in “Milk” from the website How Products are Made, the full production of milk can be summarized in seven steps: collecting, separating, fortifying, pasteurizing, homogenizing, packaging, and cleaning. In the first step, collecting, the milk that is stored in a cooled tank after being milked from the cows is collected by bulk tank trucks. The second step, separating, is when all particles and debris is separated from the milk by a separator. The heavy fat concentrated milk is also separated from the light fat concentrated milk during this step. In the third step, fortifying, vitamins, such as vitamin A and D, are added into the milk. The fourth step, pasteurization, is the process of heating the milk at a very high temperature for a specified amount of time in order to extirpate any present bacteria. The fifth step, homogenizing, is the process of reducing the size of fat molecules found in milk. In the sixth step, packaging, the milk is pumped into and sealed in a carton or bottle. The carton or bottle is then marked with a stamp that signifies the date it is to be sold by. From there, the milk is packaged and stays in a refrigerator waiting to be shipped out to the store. The seventh and last step is cleaning. All of the machinery used in the production of milk goes through a thorough cleaning job once every day.

Drinking milk has been common since 10,000 BCE. Milk is a favored beverage to eat with dessert, the cure for a sleepless night, and the perfect liquid to ease the burn of chili pepper. However, milk was not always a preferred drink. Before milk had become a beverage found in everyone’s home, it once was a drink only for the kings. According to Judy Molland in her article “The Surprising History of Milk”, in ancient Egypt, milk was only to be drunk by the kings and queens and those of high standing. Later when milk drinking was permitted to everyone regardless of social status, milk was still an unpopular drink. Even in 16th and 17th century Western Europe when water was hazardous to drink, most people would prefer beer and whisky over milk. Towards the beginning of the 19th century, milk-drinking became normality in Western Europe and spread to the United States. During this time milk was mostly drunk by young children. However, the rate of infant mortality began to increase at this time. This was due to a lack of knowledge of the danger of bacterial contamination from not pasteurizing milk. In 1862, the French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur discovered the process of pasteurization. According to Judy Molland in her article, “The Surprising History of Milk”, Louis Pasteur is responsible for, “…revolutionizing the safety of milk and, in turn, the ability to store and distribute milk well beyond the farm”. The introduction of commercial pasteurization machines in 1895 lead to the growing popularity of milk and dairy products. By the 20th century, milk had become popular. Both young children and adults were drinking milk.

The selling and distribution of milk made its way into today’s market starting from 1884 when Dr. Henry Thatcher patented the first glass milk bottle. In 1914, tank trucks were being utilized for faster transportation of bottled milk. By 1930 the high demand on milk was required on-farm storage tanks to take the place of milk cans. In order to expand the distribution of milk, plastic-coated milk cartons were invented. As of today, the United States is the largest cow’s milk producer in the world. As of 2014, the United States has close to 9.23 million dairy farms. The largest milk producer in the United States is Dean Foods. In 2016 Dean Foods had a new income of $119.9 million.

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Milk is a great beverage to pair with cookies, cakes, and cereal. Milk is also used in making many food and dessert and is the main ingredient for ice cream, cheese, butter, and yogurt. However, there is more to milk than just it being an asset to delicious dishes. Milk can be used in medicinal ways. Milk can be used to soothe heartburn, help a child fall asleep, promote bone and teeth strength, and promote good skin health. By looking at the composition of milk, one is able to see the benefits of milk consumption. The history of milk is fascinating. One is able to see how far milk has come and where milk drinking all started.  

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An Overview of the History of Milk Usage. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 29, 2024, from
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