The English word ‘dairy’ was originally dey-ery where dey, in Middle English meant a woman servant.
Fresh milk and butter were not very popular in either Rome or Greece, though cheeses were.
In fact, the Greeks saw drinking milk as something akin to alcoholism or down-right insanity!
One of their words for barbarians was galactopotes or ‘milk-drinkers’
Milk and butter would spoil quickly in their climate, so olive oil was preferable as a fat. In Northern Europe, however, the reverse was true: the colder climate which allowed storage of milk and butter made it impossible to grow olive trees. Surprisingly, the people of Asia, though not the Far East, were also milk-drinkers.
Milk comes into, and goes out of, fashion like a yo-yo. First, it is a good source of calcium for the development of bones and teeth and then it is a source of fat that ultimately leads to overweight kids!
But be that as it may! I well remember at school having the statutory one-third of a pint every morning at ‘break-time’.
An ‘elected’ milk-monitor would dispense the mini bottles from a crate, with a straw, to all of his/her classmates. I used to love being milk-monitor! It meant that I could drink all the untaken bottles too!
In the Western world today, cow’s milk is produced on an industrial scale and is by far the most commonly consumed form of milk.
Commercial dairy-farming using automated milking equipment produces the vast majority of milk in the developed countries. Dairy cattle, such as the Holstein, have been bred selectively for increased milk production.
About 90% of the dairy cows in the United States and 85% in Great Britain are Holstein’s.
Other dairy cows include Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Jersey and Shorthorns. The largest producers of dairy products and milk today are India followed by the United States, Germany, and Pakistan. Increasing affluence in developing countries, as well as increased promotion of milk and milk products, has led to a rise in consumption in developing countries in recent years.
Nevertheless, in many countries production remains on a small-scale and presents significant opportunities for diversification of income sources by small farmers.
Local milk collection centres, where milk is collected and chilled prior to being transferred to urban dairies, are a good example of where farmers have been able to work on a co-operative basis, particularly in countries such as India.
The term milk is also used for white coloured, non-animal beverages resembling milk in colour and texture such as soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, and coconut milk.