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197 × 120 × 18 mm
160 pages
58 illustrations, 41 in colour
01 Apr 2010
  • £11.99

Milk A Global History Hannah Velten

Milk, poured over cereal in the morning and splashed in coffee, is part of daily life in the West. Though milk is the sustaining and essential food of all mammals, and worldwide demand for it is growing every year, the majority of the world’s population cannot digest raw cow’s milk. Of those that do drink milk regularly, most have never actually tasted raw milk; what is known as milk today is a heavily treated version far removed from its natural state.

In Milk, Hannah Velten explores the myths and misconceptions surrounding the drink. Modern milk processing produces a safe, clean beverage that is far removed from ‘real’ milk straight from the cow, but advocates of raw milk long for the days before pasteurization, homogenization and standardization. Paradoxically, milk back then was likely to be even less natural than today: known as the ‘white poison’, and filled with additives to make it look like milk after extensive watering-down, it was bacteria-ridden and dangerous to the health of invalids and infants.

Now that milk has cleaned up its act, it is considered a staple for a healthy and balanced diet. Velten investigates how and why conceptions of milk have shifted in the public consciousness, from the science of nutrition, to dairy industry advertising and government endorsements. Milk will surprise and inform in equal measure.

‘The general reader will find much of interest, and agricultural historians seeking a summary of modern milk history will admire the authors ability to present complex issues in an accessible style.’ — Agricultural History Review

‘These are food memoirs, salacious and exotic, colorful, powdered, sweet, greasy and globe-trotting . . . sharp and speedy little reads, spotted with off-kilter illustrations’ — Chicago Tribune

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Hannah Velten is a freelance writer who has worked extensively with cows and oxen on Australian cattle stations and British dairy farms. She lives in Fletching, Sussex, and is the the author of Cow (Animal series, 2007) and Milk (Edible series, 2010), both published by Reaktion Books.


1  The First Milk
2  The 'White Elixir'
3  White Poison
4  Solving the Milk Question
5  Modern Milk

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