Milk has been a part of our nutrition since time immemorial. Rich in nutrients, milk in its various forms has a long, long history...
- Around 10 000 BC, the “agricultural revolution” occurred changing societies from nomadic tribes to those who settled in communities. With this came domesticated animals and the ingenuity for people to use by-products such as milk.
- Although there is evidence of cattle domestication in Mesopotamia as early as 8000 B.C.E., the milking of dairy cows did not become a major part of Sumerian civilization until approximately 3000 B.C.E.
- In ancient Egypt, milk and other dairy products were reserved for royalty, priests and the very wealthy.
- By 2000 B.C.E, the domesticated cow had appeared in Northern India, coinciding with the arrival of the Aryan nomads.
The Vedic civilization that ruled Northern India from about 1750 BCE to about 500 BCE relied heavily upon the cow and the dairy products that it provided.
The heavy dependence on the cow was reinforced by the Vedas (the religious epics of the Hindu religion) wherein the cow was considered a sacred animal.
- By the 5th century AD, cows and sheep in Europe were prized for their milk.
- By the 14th century, cow’s milk became more popular than sheep’s milk.
- European dairy cows were brought to North America in the early 1600s.
- Louis Pasteur, a French microbiologist, conducted the first pasteurization tests in 1862. Pasteur is credited with revolutionizing the safety of milk and, in turn, the ability to store and distribute milk well beyond the farm. Commercial pasteurization machines were introduced in 1895.
- In 1884, the first milk bottle was invented in New York state.
- In the 1930s, milk cans were replaced with large on-farm storage tanks, and plastic coated paper milk cartons were invented, which allowed for wider distribution of fresh milk.