World Milk Day: Fascinating Facts About Everyone’s Favourite Dairy Drink

World Milk Day has been observed on June 1 each year since 2001. Established by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the day recognize the importance of milk as a global food.

Considering over six billion people worldwide consume milk and dairy, there is no denying that milk has become a mainstay of most people’s diets today. It’s also one of the cheapest food products to buy, given the industrial scale of milk production in the world. Some of the largest producers of milk are the United States, India, and China.

So how should you celebrate World Milk Day? You could start the day by having a glass of fresh, cold milk. Alternatively, how about a big bowl of cereal full of delicious milk. Or what about a boozy milkshake?

Here are some interesting facts about milk that you’ve probably never heard off:

Milk is one of humanities first foods

People were herding cattle and drinking milk before they began engaging in agriculture over 11,000 years ago, making milk one of humanities first foods. Before then, milk was toxic to humans. In 2019, a team of scientists identified milk protein entombed in calcified dental plaque (calculus) on the teeth of prehistoric farmers from Britain. It shows that humans were consuming dairy products as early as 6,000 years ago – despite being lactose intolerant. This could suggest they processed the raw milk into cheese, yoghurt or some other fermented product.

Milk is called “food of the gods”

Milk is LegenDAIRY! Many different cultures including Greeks, Romans, Celts, Egyptians, Sumerians, Mongolians, and Indians all incorporated milk in their foundational myths and legends and valued it as the “food of the gods.” The gods and the kings of ancient Sumer would drink milk to become strong and immortal.

A gangster got expiration dates on milk bottles

Al Capone, an American gangster was responsible for expiration dates on milk bottles after one of his relatives became sick from drinking milk that had expired.  But his grandniece gave us a more likely reason: Al Capone was looking for a legitimate business that could fund his lifestyle after the end of Prohibition. It was believed that all stamping equipment for milk expiration dates was under his control. However, many “sell by” dates don’t reflect food safety, causing 90 percent of Americans to throw out perfectly good food. 

Milk rejuvenates the skin

Both Nero’s wife and Cleopatra were known to bathe in milk on a regular basis to rejuvenate their skin. Nero’s wife kept 500 donkeys to keep her tub full of milk to “dispel all diseases and blights”. The trend has continued for a couple of thousand years as cleansers, toners and moisturizing masks.

A frog kept milk from going sour in ancient times

Putting a frog in the milk bucket was an ancient Russian way of keeping milk from going sour. Over the years, scientists have identified a wealth of new antibiotic substances in the skin of the Russian Brown frog. The study appears in ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research.

You can survive solely on milk

Milk is the only food that you can survive on wholly on, having every nutrient your body needs to live. Milk not only feeds you, but also feeds the bacteria in your gut and many nutrients in milk act as prebiotics to keep your gut bacteria healthy.

Milk makes you grow

People who drink more milk during formative years, grow taller. There have been numerous studies showing milk’s influence on growth. It makes sense, the more nutrients you give your body in your early formative years, the more your body will keep building to its maximum potential. Milk has all the building blocks for life and drinking more of it will make you tall.

Milk the most hydrating beverage

Milk is the best recovery drink after a workout or other physical activity. It’s also the most hydrating beverage you can drink – researchers used water as a control and assigned a value of 1.0 on the Body Hydrating Index (BHI). Skim milk (1.58) and full-fat milk (1.50) were more hydrating than water itself.

The top milk drinking country is Finland

The Finns drink about 95 gallons (360 liters) of milk per person in a year. The top 5 countries are Finland (361.19kg), Sweden (355.86kg), Netherlands (320.15kg), Switzerland (315kg), and Greece (314.69kg).

A cow produces 350,000 glasses of milk in a lifetime

A cow produces an average of 6.3 gallons / 24 liters of milk daily and 350,000 glasses of milk in a lifetime. One cow can also eat about 100 pounds of food every day and drink 50 gallons / 190 liters of water.

65% of the world drinks goat’s milk over cow’s milk

Goats beat cows when it comes to milk consumption. The simple reason for goat milk’s popularity seems to be the relative ease with which it’s produced.  One goat can produce an average of a gallon and a half of milk a day. That’s more than enough for a family of four. Goats also takes up less space and need less feed than a dairy cow. This provides impoverished countries or homes without refrigeration, a cheaper and easier way to consume dairy.