The history of mankind is etched in milestones that define great leaps through changes in society and the way mankind survived through the centuries. One such milestone was the “Neolithic Revolution.”
About 12,000 years ago, the hunter-gatherer lifestyles where the people moved around in search of food were swept aside to become more permanent settlements where the people raised the food around them instead. A more reliable food source brought about this change. This change was then brought about by the advent of agriculture.
As a byproduct, agriculture brought the expansion of cities ,which in turn helped to grow civilizations. Food was no longer a reason to roam because crops and animals could now be farmed and scaled to meet the needs of the local population as well as become a source of profit for selling the excess to other populations.
The farming of wheat, barley and peas is traced to the Near East region. Cereals were grown in Syria as long as 9,000 years ago. Moving from a nomadic life to a sedentary life allowed for the development of such tools as grinding stones and other tools that would have been too hard to move from one place to another. Riceand millet farming date to around 6,000 BC. Mexico gave us squash cultivation about 10,000 years ago, but corn took a while. Natural genetic mutations were needed for maize to become a corn cob. Maize-like plants appeared around 9,000 years ago, but the first corn cob didn’t appear until around 5,500 years ago.
Farm animals such as cattle, goats, sheep and pigs were first farmed in eastern Turkey, Iraq and southern Iran in a region known as the Fertile Crescent, ranging between 13,000 to 10,000 years ago.
As civilization and agriculture moved westward, goats and other livestock accompanied migrants into Europe including dairy farmers. Oddly enough, until around this move into Europe and for most of the prior 150,000 years or so, humans could not drink milk, except for children up to the age of six or seven when the body lost the enzyme to break down lactase in the milk. Until about 7,000 years ago, anyone older than a child would have an extreme physical reaction to milk, including bloating, painful cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. You have probably heard the expression “lactose intolerant” before. This is the inability to digest the lactase (sugar) in milk.
Something happened about 7,000 years ago, probably a natural genetic mutation in humans that allowed the enzyme to re-appear for some people. We’re so used to drinking milk in North America that we think it’s commonplace. But in reality, only 35% of the world’s population can actually drink fresh milk, mostly Europeans, Middle Easterners and some Africans. The population with highest prevalence of the milk-drinking gene is the European, where the percentage is 90% in northern countries such as Sweden. Interestingly enough, the vast majority of the population is descended from cow herders. The rest of the world can drink milk in a fermented form since fermentation removes most of the lactase from the milk.
Sheep were the first dairy animal domesticated about 9,000 years ago. Goats and cows followed closely behind about a thousand years later. Many other animals have also been used as a dairy source including, donkeys, water buffalo, horses and yaks. It may surprise you to know that donkeys provide milk that is closest to human mother’s milk and was, and may still be, used for sick or orphaned infants.
A report issued by the WashingtonDairy Products Commission says that nine out of every 10 glasses of milk consumed in Canada and the U.S. comes from cows. Water buffalo reins in India, producing half the milk consumed, and Laplander’s drink reindeer milk since it is the only dairy animal that can survive such a brutally-cold environment.
The Tibetan favorite is Yak-butter tea, a salty, creamy soup, and the Mongolians dried horse milk into a paste and then reconstituted it with water when they were on the march. The Russians use mare’s milk to make kumiss, a fermented, slightly alcoholic beverage similar to kefir. Camel milk is a favorite in hot desert climates, in part because it can last for seven days at 86 degrees Fahrenheit. In North America, goat milk is becoming more common these days. It has smaller fat globules than cow milk and therefore can more easily be digested.
Until the invention of pasteurization, milk safety was not an issue, so for thousands of years there was only raw milk. Louis Pasteur, for whom pasteurization is named, did not really invent the concept, as the fact that heat treatment made foods safer was known long before Pasteur. What he did do was provide the explanation for the phenomenon and patented the method we use today. However, he was not the first person to recommend pasteurization of milk for the masses. That award goes to Frans von Soxhlet, a German agricultural chemist, who suggested it in 1886. The argument that persists to this date is whether there is a real benefit to pasteurization of milk.
People think that pasteurized milk must be safer than raw milk. Statistically, that is not true. The overwhelming majority of illnesses tied to milk and cheese come from pasteurized products, not raw.
One has to wonder why the Food and Drug Administration is putting so many resources into shutting down the minuscule number of raw milk producers in the country; only 28 states allow raw milk sales under stringent guidelines, when there are so many more serious threats to food safety on “factory” farms. In fact, the CDC reported that between 1980 and 2005, 41 outbreaks occurred of food-borne pathogens in milk. All 19,531 cases were attributed to the consumption of pasteurized milk and milk products. This number is almost 11 times higher than the number reported for raw milk during the same time frame. This report, of course, does not even include the largest outbreak of salmonellosis ever identified in the United States that affected between 150,000 and 200,000 people in northern Illinois, which was traced to pasteurized milk.
As of Dec. 26, 2019 there were only 6 dairies in Arizona licensed to sell Raw-For-Consumption (R4C) dairy products, and one of them — Golden Rule — is right here at our Market. Golden Rule is licensed by the Department of Agriculture and meets Grade “A” standards as determined by inspections to ensure that their dairy operation adheres to good sanitation practices that minimize the risks with raw milk.
Golden Rule Dairy is a small, family-owned and operated Jersey cow dairy located in Elfrida. Jared and Joyce set up the farm here in 2015, but their love for cows and passion for dairy farming began at an early age as they both grew up on dairy farms. After they got married, they had a dairy farm for eight years before they packed up and moved out west.
They got into milking goats as they were less costly and still provided raw milk for the family. A few years ago, the itch got too strong to move back into milking cows so they sold the goats and bought a Jersey cow with a lame foot. Eventually, they were able to get more Jersey cows and finally had six beautiful, healthy Jerseys. Today they have around 65 Jersey cows, 45 of which they milk.
They were certified by the state of Arizona to sell raw milk about four years ago and joined us here at the market in 2019.
Realizing that everything a cow eats goes into the milk in some way or form, they decided from the beginning that they would feed for milk quality, not quantity. They established a feed program to supplement green grass grazing with a feeding program that comes very close to having the same nutrients as green grass. They feed non-GMO alfalfa and fermented barley with no other additives to give the milk richness and a sweet flavor full of probiotics and high in enzymes.
They test their milk for harmful bacteria after every bottling, and the result is always the same, zero bacteria!
The raw milk is thicker and rich in natural fat-soluble vitamins, such as preformed vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin E and also rich in water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C and B-complex vitamins.
What happens when you leave pasteurized milk on the counter for a few days? You get one hell of a stinking mess, but if you were to leave raw milk on the counter, it will clabber and produce a probiotic-rich, yogurt-like food that is not only edible but also healthful, as its sugars have been metabolized by lactic-acid producing bacteria and continue to proliferate.
The bottom line is, if you keep a “clean” dairy operation, you won’t need pasteurization to help clean up a dirty dairy operation. Remember, Golden Rule has been certified as a “clean” dairy operation.
Along with the raw milk, you can get butter and cream. They also have about 450 chickens producing eggs that you can purchase at their booth here at the Market.
I encourage you to stop by the Golden Rule booth and pick up a gallon or two and have milk with your meal just as the farmers of the past enjoyed for centuries.
As always, many of the market vendors accept WIC Farmers Markets & Senior Farmers Markets Vouchers in exchange for fresh fruits and vegetables. SNAP vouchers can also be used at some of the vendor booths. You can use your EBT card at the info booth for SNAP vouchers and Double UP tokens (unlimited amount right now).
We are looking forward to seeing you all at this coming week’s Market. For more information on all our vendors and the products they will be bringing, please see this week’s Farmers’ Market newsletter at www.sierravistafarmersmarkets.com. Also, check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/sierravistafarmersmarket/.
Submitted by “Uncle” Ralph Wildermuth