Milk Matters!

Milk Matters.Nearly everybody has some milk in their fridge and it’s so common that it’s one of those most overlooked everyday essentials. It’s a surprisingly versatile food, considering we think of it as a simply a drink. It’s also a really important part of a healthy diet for kids, and doesn’t do us adults any harm either! There’s a whole world of recipes that use milk and its one staple that features in nearly every cuisine across every continent. In the UK today various rules and regulations affect the sort of milk that we can buy and how milk is produced.

Milk Sources
In Britain there have traditionally been two main sources for milk; cattle and goats, although goat’s milk has only recently become more widespread in its availability and popularity. Ewe’s milk and cheeses produced from it are also now available from delis and specialist suppliers. Goat and Ewe’s milk tend to be characterised by their stronger flavour and are not to everybody’s taste, although cheeses made from these milks are growing in popularity. The nutrition found in milk can vary for a number of reasons – these include the health or type of animal along with its diet.

Green, Blue or Gold?

•    Whole Milk is more or less what it says on the carton. Identified by a blue top (silver if you buy in glass bottles), whole milk does not have any of the fat content removed during the production process.  For children under two years old health professionals emphasise the importance of whole milk, but due to its higher fat content it is less popular today with adults.  

•    Skimmed or semi-skimmed milk is available in green top cartons (silver and red, in bottles).  These have the fat content reduced, but retain the important vitamins and minerals. Generally this is the most popular type of milk bought for everyday use.  
•    Gold top milk is well known for its creaminess; Jersey and Guernsey cattle breeds produce this particularly creamy variety and although not part of an everyday diet, it’s a real treat on occasion and is still a popular variety.  
•    The majority of commercially available milk is pasteurised and homogenised. The pasteurisation process involves heating the milk gently to remove bacteria and also lengthen the shelf life of the end product.  Homogenisation simply stops the cream separating from the milk.  The condensed or evaporated variety of milk simply undergoes further treatment to remove more water from the milk than in the standard production process.  
•    Raw milk is also becoming increasingly available, although normally only in specialist shops or suppliers.  This milk is untreated in any way and both health and government bodies vary in their advice as to whether it is ‘safe’.  It is not recommended for young children or pregnant women, and you should carefully consider the implications of drinking untreated milk.

Staying Power    
Today dairy products are largely sourced from supermarkets or delis although the traditional doorstep delivery is not unheard of.  Despite competition this very traditional British sight remains part of the suburban street scene.  In order to protect their business some dairies have diversified into a wider range of products which means that doorstep delivery may be not so much a thing of the past as we might have thought!  Milk is a very basic, healthy food source that has withstood the test of time and is one of the few basic food items that has not at some stage been banned from our diets by scientific discoveries and health advisors.

One of the most basic and every day essential items our relationship with milk and the ways in which it is produced have changed over the years, however, dairy products and milk are one of the few parts of our diet that haven’t received negative scrutiny from scientists or health experts; providing the building blocks for healthy bones and teeth, packed with vitamins and minerals, milk is likely to remain one of our basic staple food sources.  

Author Bio
Charlotte Rivington blogs about food, recipes and eating out, covering everything from fine dining to recipes using organic milk. When she’s not online Charlotte enjoys swimming, cycling and discovering new places to eat.

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