“You can’t have it until the baby goats are done with it, and they will be weaned in April.” That was the message I was given by the goat-milk lady at the farmer’s market when I asked whether she was selling any goat milk. (She was selling cheese, so thought I’d ask). It was a stark reminder that we humans are the only mammals to drink another mammal’s milk. The baby goats, cows and sheep are done after a few months, but we fully grown adults – we just keep on going.
Maybe we shouldn’t….
The lactose-digesting enzyme (lactase) reaches its maximum level in the intestine soon after birth and then declines into adulthood until it reaches a stable level. Some people maintain a high level of lactase into adulthood and therefore have no problem digesting milk, but others have low levels and are therefore lactose intolerant.
It turns out that those of us (globally speaking) who tolerate milk well, after infancy, are actually pretty rare. And it may have something to do with ethnicity – Scandinavians, for example seem to have a low level of lactose intolerance as it’s believed that several thousand years ago they underwent a genetic change allowing them to tolerate lactose since milk was an important part of their diet. Southern Europeans, North Africans and Asians, on the other hand, have a very high level of lactose intolerance and milk products are not an important part of the diet. (The Chinese diet has virtually no milk products.)
Although, I’m of Caucasian descent and don’t think I have a severe intolerance, I’ve become increasingly conscious of how much we consume and how unnecessary it really is in our diet. Yet I also have a one year old (Finn), who I am about to introduce milk to and I am feeling a but conflicted about flooding his system with the milk from another mammal. Not to mention on top of that, milk that is pasteurized, homogenized (unless you get it from the farmers market), is high in lactase, and has a protein (casein) that for many is hard to digest. I would actually like to not give Finn milk at all anymore, but I think for the short term it’s important for him to get many of the nutrients that are in milk.
Enter goat’s milk …. I’m at the early stage of deciding whether I might give this to Finn. I am already a huge fan of goat milk yogurt – the barnyardy taste alone makes me feel like I’ve just dived into a pile of hay – but there there is considerable evidence to suggest that it is. It is…
- Lower in lactose
- Lower in casein (protein) which many people have an intolerance to
- Naturally homogenized – meaning the fat does not separate from the rest of the milk. When milk is homogenized - which most cow’s milk is – it destroys the fat globule cell wall and produces free radicals in the milk which your body has to get rid of.
One thing that is NOT in goat’s milk is vitamin D – this is added to most cows milk so if (or your kids) drink goats milk (or the yogurt) that’s one thing to keep in mind.
So that’s where we stand. I’ll keep you posted as to what direction we go … but would love to hear from any of you if you’ve ever tried goat milk… What about the yogurt? Like it more than cow?
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