Milk!
Mark Kurlansky's first global food history since the bestselling Cod and Salt; the fascinating cultural, economic, and culinary story of milk and all things dairy--with recipes throughout. According to the Greek creation myth, we are so much spilt milk; a splatter of the goddess Hera's breast milk became our galaxy, the Milky Way. But while mother's milk may be the essence of nourishment, it is the milk of other mammals that humans have cultivated ever since the domestication of animals more than 10,000 years ago, originally as a source of cheese, yogurt, kefir, and all manner of edible innovations that rendered lactose digestible, and then, when genetic mutation made some of us lactose-tolerant, milk itself.Before the industrial revolution, it was common for families to keep dairy cows and produce their own milk. But during the nineteenth century mass production and urbanization made milk safety a leading issue of the day, with milk-borne illnesses a common cause of death. Pasteurization slowly became a legislative matter. And today milk is a test case in the most pressing issues in food politics, from industrial farming and animal rights to GMOs, the locavore movement, and advocates for raw milk, who controversially reject pasteurization.Profoundly intertwined with human civilization, milk has a compelling and a surprisingly global story to tell, and historian Mark Kurlansky is the perfect person to tell it. Tracing the liquid's diverse history from antiquity to the present, he details its curious and crucial role in cultural evolution, religion, nutrition, politics, and economics.

Milk! Details

TitleMilk!
Author
ReleaseMay 8th, 2018
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing
ISBN-139781632863829
Rating
GenreNonfiction, History, Food and Drink, Food, Historical

Milk! Review

  • Matt
    January 1, 1970
    First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Mark Kurlansky, and Bloomsbury (USA) Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.I remember an advertising campaign from my youth that extolled the virtues and health benefits of drinking milk. It stuck with me and I have tried to present the same positive outlook to my son. When I saw the latest Mark Kurlansky book, all about the history of milk, I could not help but wonde First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Mark Kurlansky, and Bloomsbury (USA) Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.I remember an advertising campaign from my youth that extolled the virtues and health benefits of drinking milk. It stuck with me and I have tried to present the same positive outlook to my son. When I saw the latest Mark Kurlansky book, all about the history of milk, I could not help but wonder if it would be an entertaining read, as I knew he had tackled some other interesting food topics. One may presume the topic is quite mundane or simplistic, but the attentive reader will discover that milk and its byproducts are anything but boring, though it is one area where history has only added to the controversies, rather than neutralise them. In a book that is as eye opening as it is refreshing, Kurlansky offers the reader much insight into this product that has been a central part of history as long as female mammals have roamed the earth.Milk has long been a controversial staple through the centuries, from the debate between breastfeeding and delivering the essential nutrients to babies, to the best ‘type’ of milk for humans to consume, and even whether to treat milk to make it safer for consumption. Kurlansky details these and other debates throughout the pages of his book, presenting arguments and views as they were documented throughout history. There remains a strong debate over pasteurisation versus raw milk, which has led to various parts of the world to adopt varying rules and regulations. While many Western countries turn to cow’s milk, there are numerous other animals whose milk is widely used, utilising the higher concentration of such mammals on differing terrains. Liquid milk is only scratching the (fatty) surface of the discussion, as Kurlansky talked extensively about the various byproducts. Often discovered by accident, byproducts include cheeses, butters, and creams, though their variety can easily be forked into hundreds of different outcomes. The history of cheese is both long and full of political intervention, as Kurlansky discusses at length. Creation of cheese can be a laborious process and is tightly regulated, creating different colours, flavours, and consistencies. Kurlansky explores not only how different milk determines key cheese creations, but also the food intake of the cow that can vastly alter the end result. Turning to creams, history has seen the evolution of different products, based not only on filtering techniques but also the ability to refrigerate or cool for lengthy periods of time. Different people claim fame for various inventions that many take for granted now, though there was surely a fierce debate at the time to launch the best clotted creams, ice creams, and desserts that stemmed from there. Kurlansky also explores how different parts of the world tapped into shaping these byproducts with the local ingredients, creating even more differentiation across the globe.The political and social aspects of milk are firmly rooted, particularly when government health and legislative bodies learned that they could levy fees and fierce regulations. Milk can be a highly profitable industry, though strict adherence can also lead to marginalizing those who have spent their life trying to make a living off dairy production. Kurlansky turns the focus away from North America and delves deeply into the European and Asian markets, which may shock some readers in the West. There is surely a hierarchy when it comes to milk consumption, as well as a fierce debate about how to treat the animals and the food they consumed. There is no correct answer, nor does Kurlansky try to steer the reader in any single direction, but offers a wonderful cross-section of information for a better understanding. Readers and milk enthusiasts alike can enter the debate better armed for the battle. Kurlansky’s delivery of the topic at hand is so seamless as to create a story that flows with ease from beginning to end. While there is so much to cover, Kurlansky offers detailed discussions throughout without bogging the reader down with minutiae. Not only does he provide a rich history of milk and its evolution, but Kurlansky offers hundreds of recipes embedded in the narrative, permitting the reader to explore the more amusing side of milk’s maturation. Offering education and entertainment in equal doses, Kurlansky provides the reader with a fulfilling historical tome that will fuel interesting discussions for all. Any reader with a love of history and curiosity about food will surely find something they can enjoy in this book. “Milk. It does a body good!”... and so much more!Kudos, Mr. Kurlansky, for such a wonderfully diverse piece. I have learned so much and dazzled others with random facts that will stick with me for years to come. Now I am convinced that I will have to find some of your other food histories and see how they compare. Like/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
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  • Trish
    January 1, 1970
    Kurlansky is justly famous for his earlier works about Salt and Cod, among other things, so when I saw this 2018 Bloomsbury Publishing nonfiction about Milk, I was interested. I was particularly interested to see what he would say about humans consuming milk after infancy, when approximately sixty percent of the world's human population appear to lose their tolerance for and ability to digest lactose. Europeans, Middle Easterners, North Africans and some of the Indian subcontinent appear to lack Kurlansky is justly famous for his earlier works about Salt and Cod, among other things, so when I saw this 2018 Bloomsbury Publishing nonfiction about Milk, I was interested. I was particularly interested to see what he would say about humans consuming milk after infancy, when approximately sixty percent of the world's human population appear to lose their tolerance for and ability to digest lactose. Europeans, Middle Easterners, North Africans and some of the Indian subcontinent appear to lack a gene which shuts off production of lactase--an intestinally-controlled enzyme which digests lactose present in all milk.In 2006 Cornell University's T. Colin Campbell published his thirty-year study on the eating habits of Chinese people called The China Study. The findings of Campbell's study blew me away, one of which was that consumption of milk products can cause osteoporosis in adults, a finding exactly opposite to what we have been told here in America. Kurlansky does not mention this startling information, sadly. But Campbell's study made me look closely at where the promotion of milk products was coming from—the industry itself, and lobbyists targeting government scientists, commercial attachés, and spokespeople.Kurlanksy does remark on lactose intolerance briefly at the beginning and again in the section on China. He indicates that while there is a growing tolerance for dairy products gradually in China among the wealthier and more worldly citizens, it fights with the notion that the Chinese are genetically lactose intolerant. It may be that livestock was discouraged in a country which needed all possible land for food production, and that reintroducing dairy stimulates the production of lactase. Kurlansky mostly elucidates the uses of milk in the part of the world that uses it daily, giving recipes that have survived the ages, showing some changes in those recipes over time. And certainly coincidentally but with a weird synchronicity he discusses breast-feeding throughout the world and throughout history. Breastfeeding has come and gone in popularity, with scientists in the past forty years generally concluding that until clean water and sterile bottles and low pricing for formula could be achieved throughout the world, perhaps breast milk was superior to any industrial formula. It is now de rigueur to pump breast milk, offering convenience and nutrition. Pumping breast milk induces lactating mothers to produce more than they need, which has led to an oversupply. Some entrepreneurs have endeavored to sell soap made with breast milk; those selling breast milk ice cream in London found they couldn’t keep up with demand. Some sell breast milk on the internet to athletes who believe it makes them stronger. Some people buy it when they are ill, believing it has medicinal qualities. Some testing internet purchases found 10% of the time cow’s milk was mixed in, while 75% was contaminated with bacteria and/or pathogens.It turns out that yogurt made from yak milk makes that made from cow’s milk seem boring and tasteless due to the high percentage of fat in yak’s milk. Consumption of milk in the United States has declined almost 40% since the 1970s, and now large scale industrial farming is the key to survival of the industry. At the end, Kurlansky takes another quick trip around the world to look at how dairy farms manage and what problems they are encountering now, including some of the profit calculations small producers are making.Kurlanky is a wonderful writer of nonfiction who manages to take on big subjects and make them intelligible to the non-specialist. If you are looking for specific information, this book may simply be too diffuse, but Kurlansky is a wonderful host for a general reader.
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  • Mich Must Read
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for this ARC. We luxuriate in the richness of yummy butter, or at least I do. There is nothing more delicious to me than a simple croissant, flaky dough that has been laboriously layered with butter, and a cup of coffee. But apparently in certain cultures, I would be called a “butter stinker”. It’s these little tid-bits that I enjoyed in Milk. Milk is a social history that ignites a thoughtful conversation for such a simple product. It follows the Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for this ARC. We luxuriate in the richness of yummy butter, or at least I do. There is nothing more delicious to me than a simple croissant, flaky dough that has been laboriously layered with butter, and a cup of coffee. But apparently in certain cultures, I would be called a “butter stinker”. It’s these little tid-bits that I enjoyed in Milk. Milk is a social history that ignites a thoughtful conversation for such a simple product. It follows the human ingenuity of sustenance and cultural arguments of use or disdain in all things related to milk. Every aspect of milk is discussed: Uses, symbolism, cultural preferences and norms. There are 126 recipes, although they are not in the sense that I was thinking. Some are not in recipe form, but often in parenthetical quotings on cheese making, or what have you. The recipes towards the end of the book sound really delicious, but some of these parenthetical ones in the rest of the book can get a little tedious. However, it is quickly dispelled with lovely confectionery journeys like Italian Ice Cream in France, and then later the U.S., to lead us to African American Ice cream parlors in Philadelphia. By the by, I would love to see a book about just these Ice cream parlors in particular or the ice cream goddess Agnes Marshall Somebody get on that. The religious symbolism was of the most interest to me. I was completely in the dark for a lot of this. Particularly the Christian symbolism and the changes as time progressed. For example, how the milk of the Virgin Mary might be bestowed on the blessed, or the ceremonial blood of Christ was originally milk. Also, the religious morality regarding breastfeeding was interesting. The technology of keeping milk and the problems that arise are discussed as well as the later industrial changes in the milk industry. Refrigeration, canning, milk bottles, formula, condensed milk, pasteurization, milking machines, etc. are all mentioned. This is the kind of book that is easily digestible. Milk is great for someone that is looking for an entry level book into history or non-fiction reading, but not boring to the more advanced reader. There is an immense amount information in Milk that is touched upon and woven together. I would love more detail on some of these topics and I think this is a good springboard for a curious reader. On an odd note: I like milk, but as I was reading this I craved milk products more than normal. I went out of my way to find a local dairy that made fresh dairy products. I also craved ridiculous, fancy ice cream. And so, I blame this book for the extra cardio I had to endure. michmustread.com
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley I have to have milk with breakfast unless I am getting breakfast at work. But at home, a glass milk, cold milk, and then coffee. I need that nice cool glass of milk. But I didn’t know much about milk until I read this book. Kurlansky’s book is a tour of milk in history, but also a tour of yogurt, cheese, and ice cream. And it has recipes! Kurlansky starts with ancient history, exploring when milking first developed as well as pointing out that being lactose intolera Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley I have to have milk with breakfast unless I am getting breakfast at work. But at home, a glass milk, cold milk, and then coffee. I need that nice cool glass of milk. But I didn’t know much about milk until I read this book. Kurlansky’s book is a tour of milk in history, but also a tour of yogurt, cheese, and ice cream. And it has recipes! Kurlansky starts with ancient history, exploring when milking first developed as well as pointing out that being lactose intolerant is actually the biological norm and those of us who aren’t are freaks. He also notes the belief that where the milk came from was important – in short, there was a reason why Zeus couldn’t keep it in his tunic. There are interesting discussions about whether milk was a meat and why butter stinker is an insult. I also learned that aurochsen is the correct plural for more than one auroch. The book doesn’t just focus on Europe and America. In fact, Asia (and not just India) gets much attention. Perhaps the Southern hemisphere doesn’t get as much attention, though Australia gets covered. What is most interesting is how Kurlansky shows how certain debates keep recurring, for instance breast-feeding, which he links to the idea of men trying to control women’s bodies. This makes sense when you think about it, not only in terms of child rearing but also in terms of what a woman can do. The bit about the sexy milkmaid also makes sense too, come to think of it. There are few weak points in the book. The one that sticks out the most are the cow illustrations. Now, look, the illustrations are far, far better than what I could do, but in general even though the drawings are of different breeds of cows, the illustrations are pretty interchangeable. Still, far better than what I could do. The other weak part is the almost lack of science. But this seems to be because different studies contradict each other. Yet, one did want a little more scientific fact, if possible, about the contradicting claims. To be fair, Kurlansky is brutally honest about how a dairy farm works. These flaws aside, the book is charming. You can learn all sorts of facts about ice cream, milk, and ice cream. Did I say ice cream twice? For instance, the inventor of the hand cranked ice cream maker (Nancy Johnson) and the where the soda fountain was invented, and the fact that Philadelphia is “a city that liked to brand its food”. The focus on ice cream is more on the idea and popularity, with more detail given to smaller businesses than bigger ones such Breyers. I haven’t tried any of the recipes, though many of them do look quite good and yummy.
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  • Patty
    January 1, 1970
    I'm a huge fan of Kurlansky. He's probably the most famous writer of microhistories currently, a genre I adore. Microhistories he's written include "Salt" and "Paper", books on oysters and cod, a history of just the year 1968 or the song “Dancing in the Street". You get the idea.In this book, he takes on milk. Or, well, not only milk; Kurlansky also covers butter, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and all the other things that can be made out of milk. It's not just cows' milk either! He includes recipe I'm a huge fan of Kurlansky. He's probably the most famous writer of microhistories currently, a genre I adore. Microhistories he's written include "Salt" and "Paper", books on oysters and cod, a history of just the year 1968 or the song “Dancing in the Street". You get the idea.In this book, he takes on milk. Or, well, not only milk; Kurlansky also covers butter, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and all the other things that can be made out of milk. It's not just cows' milk either! He includes recipes that use the milk of sheeps, goats, horses, donkeys, camels, and yaks. There's even a lot of discussion of human milk – is it better to breastfeed or to use formula? And what is the history of that debate? How does one choose a wet nurse? What about grass fed cows vs cows given fodder? Pasteurized milk vs raw? Is milk a health food? Kurlansky doesn't take a position on any of these debates or try to prove one side right with evidence; he's simply interested in how the same questions have been asked over and over again throughout history, with the pendulum frequently swinging back and forth between the same positions over the centuries. All of this probably sounds very interesting, and indeed I really wanted to like this book, but unfortunately I didn't. Kurlansky includes many recipes (126 of them, he says on the opening page), which means that many of the chapters devolve into listing one recipe after another with barely any discussion between them. Even if I wanted to try making them (a feat often barely possible, since recipes before the 1600s rarely bother to include amounts, times, or temperature), it doesn't make for interesting reading. I especially don't want multiple recipes for junkets, syllabubs, phirni, kalakand, etc, when I don't even know what those things are. Lists of ingredients are even more uninteresting than usual when you can't picture what the final product is supposed to be. I wish Kurlansky had included fewer recipes and instead spent more time on each one: a description of what the dish would look and taste like, how it functioned in the society of its time and place (is this an everyday meal? something fancy? something for breakfast, or for dinner?), and when and why it came into or out of popularity. Kurlanksy also seems to assume a certain level of milk-knowledge from his readers that, personally, I simply don't have. I vaguely know cream is fattier than milk, but how one gets cream or what its exact definition is, I have no idea. Same for whey (Miss Muffet ate it?), curds, buttermilk, or how churning milk actually turns it into butter. After reading Milk!, I know not a single thing more about these topics than I did before, despite Kurlansky using these terms frequently. For example, he repeatedly insists that skyr (the Icelandic product that's recently become popular in the US) is not technically a yogurt but a soft fresh cheese. That's cool trivia to know, I guess, but what I'm really curious about is why. What separates yogurt and cheese? Is the line between them strict, or does one fade into the other? Is it based on method of production, taste, ingredients, something else? I could google these answers, of course, but if I'm reading a book for fun, I'd like not to have to turn to a different source just to understand what I'm reading. I wanted to learn about milk, but Milk! is just not interested in providing these sorts of basic facts.Finally, Kurlanksy includes at least one blatant mistake: Was the first milking animal a goat, as goat enthusiasts always claim? Or was it a gazelle, the wild ancestor of goats? This is possible, but gazelle farming would have been difficult unless they were soon domesticated into goats. I try not to be overly critical when non-archaeologists make mistakes about archaeology, because I feel like it's an intensely difficult subject to make your way into without being a specialist, but c'mon, surely this is obviously nonsense? Even if one is not an archaeologist of early farming or a biologist, isn't it self-evident that gazelles and goats are not the same species, and no magic process is going to turn a gazelle into a goat? They're not even in the same genus! They don't even look alike! (Not that 'looking alike' is a reliable way of telling what is or isn't the same species, but wouldn't that send up warning signals in your subconscious?) Also the fact that it occured on page 13 may have prejudiced me against the rest of the book.Anyway, a fascinating topic, but unfortunately not a good book. I read this as an ARC via NetGalley.
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  • Dree
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to netgalley for providing me with a Kindle edition galley of this book.I have read Kurlansky's Salt: A World History, and actually enjoyed this one much more. Not surprisingly, he uses a similar writing style. Much more of this book, however, focuses on post-1800 history, and on the US. Few cultures really drank milk before the 19th century, and most milk went to cheese and yogurt on a small-scale local basis. I have also read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, but had no idea there was a simi Thanks to netgalley for providing me with a Kindle edition galley of this book.I have read Kurlansky's Salt: A World History, and actually enjoyed this one much more. Not surprisingly, he uses a similar writing style. Much more of this book, however, focuses on post-1800 history, and on the US. Few cultures really drank milk before the 19th century, and most milk went to cheese and yogurt on a small-scale local basis. I have also read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, but had no idea there was a similar scandal involving milk in the 19th century US. Breweries often had attached dairies, and the cows were fed the grain byproducts of brewing. But this milk was cheap for a reason—the bluish cast and nickname of "swill milk" showed that the public knew it was not the best. They did not, however, know how sick the cows often were and how bad the milk therefor was for them (and especially their children). I was also somewhat familiar with other milk scandals in this book: the Nestle formula scandal in the 1970s, and the adulterated milk scandal in China c2000. So this book was fascinating and easy to read. Perhaps because I read a galley, there were also some errors that jumped out at me--interestingly, they were also all near the end of the book.• at 92% "Alfalfa ...is a leading high-protein grain for milk-producing cows." Alfalfa is not a grain, it is a legume.• at 88% "The most traditional dairy states, New England and New York..." New England is not a state LOL!And this one, while not an error, could only have been written by someone who has never breastfed:• at 86% "Breast pumping...[frees] mothers from the burden of breast-feeding." OMG! Pumping is sooo much more of a "burden". The cleaning your pump parts, the remembering all the parts, the bottles, the ice packs (and keeping them frozen!), the finding a place and the time to pump, to having extra batteries if you can't use a plug, to repackaging the milk at home (and having the supplies), to dating, and freezing, and cycling the frozen milk. It is a PAIN IN THE ASS and takes a lot of mental energy. A lot more mental energy than breastfeeding does.
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  • Dawn Betts-Green (Dinosaur in the Library)
    January 1, 1970
    This was an ok read. The first half or so was difficult to slog through because of formatting. Kurlansky includes a ridiculous number of recipes in the early chapters, and while recipes are certainly important to food history, they were poorly integrated. The text was choppy and topics jumped wildly between some paragraphs. The later half of the book was much better—but there were no recipes there. Interesting topic, but not as well put together as his other work. Also not entirely sure what was This was an ok read. The first half or so was difficult to slog through because of formatting. Kurlansky includes a ridiculous number of recipes in the early chapters, and while recipes are certainly important to food history, they were poorly integrated. The text was choppy and topics jumped wildly between some paragraphs. The later half of the book was much better—but there were no recipes there. Interesting topic, but not as well put together as his other work. Also not entirely sure what was up with the sub-par pencil drawings of cows.
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  • Lance L
    January 1, 1970
    "... a book with 126 recipes..."Almost stream of consciousness rambling broken occasionally by repeated recitations of centuries or millennia old “recipes” which only serve to encrenulate the monotony. I loved Cod. I really liked Salt. I thought Paper was sort of phoned in. This book feels more like it was cut and pasted and forwarded in by tweet.Full disclosure - could not take it any more. Quit after 4 chapters.
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  • Natalia
    January 1, 1970
    Mark Kurlansky is one of the best writers of social/anthropological history, and Milk! continues his success. The history of milk is fascinating and Kurlansky makes it accessible to the public without it being too dry, from the modern dairy industry to different uses of milk around the world. There are some interesting recipes too! Thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury USA for an advanced copy of this book.
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  • Holly Senecal
    January 1, 1970
    As someone who lives in dairy country in Vermont I was curious how Mark Kurlansky would handle the industry in his book. It was a great history lesson and quite interesting.
  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    Another excellent microhistory from my favorite microhistory author.
  • Rhonda Lomazow
    January 1, 1970
    Wonderful look a trip through the history of Milk fulll of facts and delicious yummy recipes.Thanks # NetGalley #bloomsbury for advance copy.
  • Steven Minniear
    January 1, 1970
    Not one of Kurlansky’s best, in my opinion. While I kind of liked his use of recipes within the text, I just could not get myself into this book. I was so unhappy with it that I returned it to the bookstore.
  • Nick Ertz
    January 1, 1970
    There is a lot of time to cover. This is not an exciting book, too much "and then this and then that" to make it very engaging. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that milk has been debated since the beginning. First, which is better, cow or goat or camel or buffalo or... Then, why does everyone die after drinking this milk? Yet, who doesn't like a good piece of cheese?
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  • Miriam Downey
    January 1, 1970
    Remember the advertising campaign, “Milk. It does a body good.” from the 80s and 90s? Or the campaign “Got Milk” where celebrities had milk mustaches? Everything milk is covered in Kurlansky’s newest study of a single food topic and its place in the cultures around the world.Wow! Who knew that so much fascinating information could be written about such a commonplace topic as milk. Of course, I have navigated the topic in many settings over my last 75 years—from my own birth and childhood, to the Remember the advertising campaign, “Milk. It does a body good.” from the 80s and 90s? Or the campaign “Got Milk” where celebrities had milk mustaches? Everything milk is covered in Kurlansky’s newest study of a single food topic and its place in the cultures around the world.Wow! Who knew that so much fascinating information could be written about such a commonplace topic as milk. Of course, I have navigated the topic in many settings over my last 75 years—from my own birth and childhood, to the birth and childhoods of my children, and on and on. I had a boyfriend once whose father had a dairy farm; a niece whose in-laws have a large organic dairy farm, and I have a lactose intolerant grandson. That was the extent of my knowledge until a review copy of Milk! arrived at my doorstep.Here is a brief synopsis of the book. “Before the industrial revolution, it was common for families to keep dairy cows and produce their own milk. But during the 19th century, mass production and urbanization made milk safety a leading issue of the day, with milk-borne illnesses a common cause of death. Pasteurization slowly became a legislative matter. And today milk is a test case in the most pressing issues in food politics, from industrial farming and animal rights to GMOs, the locavore movement, and advocates for raw milk, who controversially reject pasteurization. Tracing the liquid's diverse history from antiquity to the present, historian Mark Kurlansky details its curious and crucial role in cultural evolution, religion, nutrition, politics and economics.”One of the most interesting set of facts to me was the biological and cultural aspect of using milk. Kurlansky says that just like most mammals, humans are not genetically engineered to drink milk after the age of two. Also milk consumption tends to be cultural among tribes and peoples. I didn’t know that.Kurlansky is a prolific author on many topics, and his research skills are in full evidence in Milk! A mind-blowing number of issues regarding milk are presented along with a 10,000 year history of the product and all the politics connected with production and distribution. Also ice cream and cheese! Numerous recipes (most of them traditional) intersperse the text adding to the delight in the reading.I am absolutely entranced with Kurlansky’s choice of topics and his research. It’s like he is eaten up by curiosity about paper, or cod, or salt, or Havana, Gloucester, or 1968, and he goes on a research spree leading to a marvelous book. What amazing literary freedom!The reviewer in the Wall Street Journal calls Milk! “a complex and rich survey” and “a book well-worth nursing.” By the way, the book was released yesterday, May 8. Great summer reading!
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  • Ann
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not sure if it's because I read the book instead of listening to an audiobook, or if it's because I know so much more about the topic, or because the topic was too broad, but I did not enjoy this book nearly as much as I did his other works. There were several little things that bugged me about the way they were presented that I thought misrepresented them (though of course I can't remember specifics as I right this, which is frustrating. I think something in the yogurt chapter?) I also thin I'm not sure if it's because I read the book instead of listening to an audiobook, or if it's because I know so much more about the topic, or because the topic was too broad, but I did not enjoy this book nearly as much as I did his other works. There were several little things that bugged me about the way they were presented that I thought misrepresented them (though of course I can't remember specifics as I right this, which is frustrating. I think something in the yogurt chapter?) I also think that an entire book could easily have been written (and have been!) about the individual chapters: cheese, yogurt, ice cream, liquid milk, etc. Whereas with Salt or Paper he could concentrate on one very specific thing and then circle around it with interesting sidenotes, here, there was so much to cover that it felt crammed together. The frequent spots where he would just stop the narrative and talk about a very specific dairy was annoying to me as well, particularly in the context that I wanted more history about ice cream/cheese/yogurt/whatever. While zooming in can be interesting, there is so much variety in how dairies are run that it didn't feel educational. Like trying to learn what it means to be a librarian by talking to one librarian in a very small, very rural private library. It's interesting, but does nothing to help you understand the bigger picture or the general landscape of the profession.
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  • FernsAndFauna
    January 1, 1970
    The format of Milk shares much in common with the ambitious global food histories that Kurlansky undertakes in Salt and Cod. But here, much like with Paper he falls short of his earlier work: Even though his thesis–that milk is the most argued about food in human history–is both imaginative and provocative, his book never marshals sufficient evidence to support his argument. Instead, Kurlanksy moves through milk's history with little regard for chronology or geography; his book lacks even a rudi The format of Milk shares much in common with the ambitious global food histories that Kurlansky undertakes in Salt and Cod. But here, much like with Paper he falls short of his earlier work: Even though his thesis–that milk is the most argued about food in human history–is both imaginative and provocative, his book never marshals sufficient evidence to support his argument. Instead, Kurlanksy moves through milk's history with little regard for chronology or geography; his book lacks even a rudimentary narrative structure. While entertaining as a collection of fanciful anecdotes on all things dairy, Milk reads more like a hastily organized encyclopedia than a book you're supposed to read from front to back. I could have done without the first section entirely, but I will grant that the second and third sections of the book are less jumbled. A few chapters, particularly those on milk in the era of industrialization and pasteurization, were even quite entertaining and well-researched. I imagine most readers will find some joy in the colorful characters and stories that emerge from Kurlanksy's latest microhistory, though I doubt many will make it to the final page. At its best, it's an amusing read, but in the end, it's not especially compelling.
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  • Geoffrey
    January 1, 1970
    (Note: I received an advanced electronic copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley)Master of microhistory Kurlansky once more takes a ubiquitous part of our daily livings that we never cared to think too much about if at all, and provides more information about it than I thought was imaginable. Admittedly there are moments where this book will drag a bit. Throughout the book Kurlansky will add in blocks of relevant recipes from throughout history, as he’s done before. However, in this particular w (Note: I received an advanced electronic copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley)Master of microhistory Kurlansky once more takes a ubiquitous part of our daily livings that we never cared to think too much about if at all, and provides more information about it than I thought was imaginable. Admittedly there are moments where this book will drag a bit. Throughout the book Kurlansky will add in blocks of relevant recipes from throughout history, as he’s done before. However, in this particular work it feels like he goes a little overboard at times with these primary sources. I realize what he’s trying to go far, but nevertheless it nearly slows the entire read to a stop at a couple points. But despite this quibble with book’s flow, “Milk” is still a very fun and very, very interesting read. Kurlansky leaves no stone unturned as he gives detailed coverage to milk, milk products and their development, and the unexpectedly diverse array of heated debates and disputes that have been a part of their long history. Which animal provides the best milk, raw milk vs pasteurized, breastfeeding vs formula feeding….these are a few of the ongoing topics that receive great coverage inside and out in this book. Who knew that dairy could be so fascinatingly controversial?
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    If there is anything, you want to know about milk the answer is most likely in this book. If like me you haven't given much thought to milk other than pouring it in your coffee or over you breakfast cereal you might be surprised to find that Kurlansky has looked into the history of milk from antiquity until today and the role it plays in our modern lives. Whether he is examining old recipes in which milk was first used, exploring accounts of making milk safe for the masses, discussing the proces If there is anything, you want to know about milk the answer is most likely in this book. If like me you haven't given much thought to milk other than pouring it in your coffee or over you breakfast cereal you might be surprised to find that Kurlansky has looked into the history of milk from antiquity until today and the role it plays in our modern lives. Whether he is examining old recipes in which milk was first used, exploring accounts of making milk safe for the masses, discussing the process of pasteurization and the spread of milk or just thinking about the welfare of milk herds in the industrialized world there is a wealth of information contained within this book. Not surprisingly, I learned a lot from Kurlansky's thoughtful approach, and I can honestly say that this cultural history of milk is unlike anything else I've read lately. Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.More reviews: www.susannesbooklist.blogspot.com
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    I was given an advanced copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I really like this kind of micro history that focuses on a single event or single topic, in this case the history of Milk. This book is a nice mix of history and historic and modern recipes so it's a bit different than some of single topic books but I really enjoyed it. The detailed uses for milk (and all dairy) across cultures, through history, is fascinating and it's interesting to see how the recipes chang I was given an advanced copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I really like this kind of micro history that focuses on a single event or single topic, in this case the history of Milk. This book is a nice mix of history and historic and modern recipes so it's a bit different than some of single topic books but I really enjoyed it. The detailed uses for milk (and all dairy) across cultures, through history, is fascinating and it's interesting to see how the recipes changed/were refined over the years. It's an easy, entertaining and educational read.There's a great deal of information on raw milk, historic adulteration of milk, as well as some really fascinating sections on the impact of formula in developing countries along with a deep dive into dairy consumption in China in modern times. I'd recommend this to cooks, history buffs and anyone who finds this type of book as fascinating as I do.
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  • Nann
    January 1, 1970
    Kurlansky is both a food historian and a master of narrative nonfiction, the genre that treats a single topic exhaustively and entertainingly. From early civilization to organic farming, from yogurt and butter and cheese, with breastfeeding and formula, cattle breeding -- he covers it all. My delight in the book (I like the genre and I've enjoyed Kurlansky's books about cod, oysters, salt, and paper) was somewhat diminished by the choppiness of many paragraphs. Also, there are several references Kurlansky is both a food historian and a master of narrative nonfiction, the genre that treats a single topic exhaustively and entertainingly. From early civilization to organic farming, from yogurt and butter and cheese, with breastfeeding and formula, cattle breeding -- he covers it all. My delight in the book (I like the genre and I've enjoyed Kurlansky's books about cod, oysters, salt, and paper) was somewhat diminished by the choppiness of many paragraphs. Also, there are several references to "Catherine" Beecher (sister of Harriet) several times. Her name is Catharine. I also questioned a 14th-century Arab recipe that begins, "Take big Swiss chard stalks . . ." Would they have called it Swiss chard, or just plain chard? Despite these copy errors, I learned a great deal about "nature's most perfect food."
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  • Jason Paterson
    January 1, 1970
    I became acquainted with Kurlansky's writing when his book Salt was recommended to me. That novel was so expertly crafted, I found myself being amazed by interesting history just about every paragraph. It's the type of story you would want to return to several times. Milk! is written in much the same style, but isn't quite that engaging in practice. This may be because Kurlansky has peppered the book with a greater number of recipes, or it may just be that the history of Milk and dairy products I became acquainted with Kurlansky's writing when his book Salt was recommended to me. That novel was so expertly crafted, I found myself being amazed by interesting history just about every paragraph. It's the type of story you would want to return to several times. Milk! is written in much the same style, but isn't quite that engaging in practice. This may be because Kurlansky has peppered the book with a greater number of recipes, or it may just be that the history of Milk and dairy products isn't quite as sordid and dark as it is with Salt. That said, there's been a long journey between humanity and milk, whether that's cows milk, human milk, goats milk, or milk from some other animal... and I still had several of those "Oh Wow!" moments. While this might not be as epic scaled as Salt, it's still a strong labour of love, and worth reading.
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  • Carissa
    January 1, 1970
    This was very, very interesting and covers (almost) all things milk from cultural use to recipes to dairy farming to everything in-between. That really isn't an exaggeration. I think the only thing missing that I do wish was covered was the different in how governments manage milk, as in the quota system of Canada versus America and how it impacts trade and economy. On the other hand, it was interesting seeing the history of how different recipes came about, and what some of those recipes involv This was very, very interesting and covers (almost) all things milk from cultural use to recipes to dairy farming to everything in-between. That really isn't an exaggeration. I think the only thing missing that I do wish was covered was the different in how governments manage milk, as in the quota system of Canada versus America and how it impacts trade and economy. On the other hand, it was interesting seeing the history of how different recipes came about, and what some of those recipes involved, where and how cheeses are made, what cultures incorporate diary in what way, and the very fair look at the debates on breastfeeding, GMOs, dairy farming, organic certified, and all of that (although it did gloss over the public health concerns of raw milk). While some of it did drag (all those recipes got tiring to read after some time), overall it was a good read.
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  • Patrick Pilz
    January 1, 1970
    Mark Kurlansky writes history books on some of the most mundane stuff: Salt, Paper and Cod to name a few. I lovedall these books, so I was very intrigued by one about milk. The dairy industry is certainly a target market in my profession. I was a little disappointed, but probably just because is compared this book to the previously published. It is comparatively short, filled with at times to lengthy and detailed recipes, which seem to be more like fillers to make the book complete.It still prov Mark Kurlansky writes history books on some of the most mundane stuff: Salt, Paper and Cod to name a few. I lovedall these books, so I was very intrigued by one about milk. The dairy industry is certainly a target market in my profession. I was a little disappointed, but probably just because is compared this book to the previously published. It is comparatively short, filled with at times to lengthy and detailed recipes, which seem to be more like fillers to make the book complete.It still provides some interesting trivia on milk and dairy products, history and evolution but unfortunately in a very superficial way. Still a good read for people that need to know, but do not expect as much depth as in his other books.
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  • Tammy Buchli
    January 1, 1970
    Very entertaining history of milk (and dairy in general). Very readable, not at all dry or pedantic. Seemed very well researched, with an extensive bibliography. Poorly cited, though, since the author chose not to do footnotes. While I understand this was probably in the interests of keeping the book accessible for the general reading public, I found that to be a flaw. A bibliography isn't enough for me in a book of this nature -- I like to know where exactly where a particular claim or quote or Very entertaining history of milk (and dairy in general). Very readable, not at all dry or pedantic. Seemed very well researched, with an extensive bibliography. Poorly cited, though, since the author chose not to do footnotes. While I understand this was probably in the interests of keeping the book accessible for the general reading public, I found that to be a flaw. A bibliography isn't enough for me in a book of this nature -- I like to know where exactly where a particular claim or quote or fact comes from. That's what footnotes are for. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anybody who enjoys a good pop history.This review was based on an ARC ebook received by the publisher in return for an honest, unbiased review.
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  • Deb
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars rounded up. Full of fascinating facts conveyed in an easy to read story like way. I never knew donkey's milk is closest to human milk - but donkey's don't like being milked! The history of milk and milk products, like yogurt and cheese, is covered from multinational points of view. Many recipes are included. I especially got a kick out of the older recipes - and am grateful for our modern day grocery stores and cheese makers.The book is very complete, covering everything from breast fe 4.5 stars rounded up. Full of fascinating facts conveyed in an easy to read story like way. I never knew donkey's milk is closest to human milk - but donkey's don't like being milked! The history of milk and milk products, like yogurt and cheese, is covered from multinational points of view. Many recipes are included. I especially got a kick out of the older recipes - and am grateful for our modern day grocery stores and cheese makers.The book is very complete, covering everything from breast feeding and surrounding controversies to the history of dairy farming and associated problems.
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  • Danya
    January 1, 1970
    I'm a total fan girl over Mark Kurlansky, so much so, that I would almost be throwing underwear at him, just to encourage him to write a history of underwear. As always, Kurlansky delivered with this book. I was totally fascinated throughout, and learned so much about the history of milk (wait until you read about its use in early communion). Plus, where else are you going to hear the phrase "monkey dairies" mentioned? The only drawback to his books are hiding them from my oldest daughter long e I'm a total fan girl over Mark Kurlansky, so much so, that I would almost be throwing underwear at him, just to encourage him to write a history of underwear. As always, Kurlansky delivered with this book. I was totally fascinated throughout, and learned so much about the history of milk (wait until you read about its use in early communion). Plus, where else are you going to hear the phrase "monkey dairies" mentioned? The only drawback to his books are hiding them from my oldest daughter long enough for me to read them first.
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  • Heather
    January 1, 1970
    I hesitated to give this tale three stars - overall it was closer to a two. Kurlansky’s writing remains interesting, though I found him to be slightly repetitive in this latest work. The larger problem is the sheer number of recipes in the book - there must be nearly as much text dedicated to recipes as there is to the writing. I usually fly though his books, but this one was more of a slog. A reluctant and slightly resentful hike between the interesting tidbits that make this book worth picking I hesitated to give this tale three stars - overall it was closer to a two. Kurlansky’s writing remains interesting, though I found him to be slightly repetitive in this latest work. The larger problem is the sheer number of recipes in the book - there must be nearly as much text dedicated to recipes as there is to the writing. I usually fly though his books, but this one was more of a slog. A reluctant and slightly resentful hike between the interesting tidbits that make this book worth picking up.
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  • Stuart Miller
    January 1, 1970
    Lots of interesting facts and details about milk--its history, production, uses, cultural aspects, etc. worldwide (although there is little on Latin America). Unfortunately, it suffers from the lack of a single narrative arc. Organizing it by historical periods or geographic areas would have made for a better read. Still, there is a lot here of interest to anyone interested in food history and, for the adventurous cook, the author reproduces many period recipes from classical times to modern day Lots of interesting facts and details about milk--its history, production, uses, cultural aspects, etc. worldwide (although there is little on Latin America). Unfortunately, it suffers from the lack of a single narrative arc. Organizing it by historical periods or geographic areas would have made for a better read. Still, there is a lot here of interest to anyone interested in food history and, for the adventurous cook, the author reproduces many period recipes from classical times to modern day.
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  • Astrid
    January 1, 1970
    Very interesting history. Did you know you can't turn human breast milk into cheese? And did you know that milk wasn't drunk for the longest time, just used to make cheese, butter and yogurt? And if you think about it, people think nothing of drinking cow's milk but wouldn't think of ever entertaining the possibility of drinking human breast milk. Well, regular milk is a cow's breast milk. It's a really entertaining story with a bunch of old and weird recipes enclosed.
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