Even without marketing, milk has been a primary source of nutrition, including protein and calcium, for ages.
Studies of newborns have shown that babies can sniff out a mother’s breast milk; and as children we’re told a glass of milk a day keeps the dentist away.
In celebration of World Milk Day today, we spoke to some local chefs about their fondest memories of the creamy deliciousness of milk...
Chef Hope Malau grew up in Klerksdorp in the North West Province eating traditional Sotho food. He is currently food editor for DRUM magazine and has also won the prestigious Galliova Food Writer of the Year for the past two consecutive years.
"I used to love the morning walk down the street corner to drop off empty and collect full 1L glass bottles. Everyone seated around the kitchen counter waiting for my arrival with bottled milk to enjoy morning tea and sour pap porridge."
Matt Manning is a private chef and the creator of One Ingredient. A well-known media personality, Matt has been featured as a Women’s Health Most Eligible Bachelor (2015) and GQ’s Cool Guys under 35.
"One of my earliest food memories is growing up in the UK where my nan used to make us porridge when we visited her in Norfolk for the holidays.
"Her porridge was delicious – creamy, sweet, milky and comforting. I also used to eat cereal as a snack, and the best bit was always the sweet milk left over at the end, which I used to slurp out of the bowl (without a spoon) – something that irritated my mother to no end!"
The owner of Tribe Coffee, Jake Easton is constantly looking for new and innovative ways in the coffee culture.
"As a young boy both my brother and I lived on milk. Seriously, we drank, daily, 5 to 6 litres of it, and as a result I have the bone density of a lead pipe. Apparently my compact bone is so dense that when recently in a 'not-so- bad' motorcycle accident, the X-ray machine had to be turned up to its strongest setting."
In some cultures and religions milk is revered as the elixir of life. For example, in Islam the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.A.W) was known to like drinking milk in its pure form. Milk is even mentioned in the Qu'ran as a blessing to human kind, and that is why during the month of Ramadan Muslims are encouraged to drink a glass of milk at Suhour (pre-dawn meal).
The Zulu culture's take on the importance of milk contrasts in comparison. According to health writer Viwe Ndongeni she was told from a young age by her grandmother and aunts that young girls are not allowed to consume dairy products like milk and eggs because they were known to make girls reach puberty at an early age, and in turn become sexually active.
The fertility link doesn't stop there – in the Cape Coloured community spilt milk is a sign of pregnancy, and milk's fertility powers have even been medically proven.
MIT geneticist Pardis Sabeti believes that milk boosted women's fat stores and thus their fertility, contributing directly to Darwinian fitness, ie: the genetic contribution of an individual to the next generation's gene pool. (source: dictionary.com)
Even the phrase "flowing with milk and honey" is understood to be descriptive of a land's richness. Loosely translated from scriptures of the Torah, it refers to The Promised Land, today known as Israel.
During the Jewish festival of Shavuot, Jews are encouraged to drink milk because it is considered to be a symbol of the Torah which nourishes, as milk does for a baby, says devotee Orielle Berry.
One of the most famous beauty secrets of Cleopatra was her "milk and honey" bath. Apparently she used to mix the milk of a young donkey with fresh honey and almond oil to maintain her youthful looking appearance.
So on World Milk Day why not save water and pour yourself a tall glass of the good stuff. Mmmmm.... yummy!