Milk: A Local and Global History

Milk: A Local and Global History

by Deborah Valenze
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Yale University Press

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Milk: A Local and Global History

How did an animal product that spoils easily, carries disease, and causes digestive trouble for many of its consumers become a near-universal symbol of modern nutrition? In the first cultural history of milk, historian Deborah Valenze traces the rituals and beliefs that have governed milk production and consumption since its use in the earliest societies.
Covering the long span of human history, Milk reveals how developments in technology, public health, and nutritional science made this once-rare elixir a modern-day staple. The book looks at the religious meanings of milk, along with its association with pastoral life, which made it an object of mystery and suspicion during medieval times and the Renaissance. As early modern societies refined agricultural techniques, cow's milk became crucial to improving diets and economies, launching milk production and consumption into a more modern phase. Yet as business and science transformed the product in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, commercial milk became not only a common and widely available commodity but also a source of uncertainty when used in place of human breast milk for infant feeding. Valenze also examines the dairy culture of the developing world, looking at the example of India, currently the world's largest milk producer.
Ultimately, milk's surprising history teaches us how to think about our relationship to food in the present, as well as in the past. It reveals that although milk is a product of nature, it has always been an artifact of culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300117240
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 06/28/2011
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction 1

Part 1 The Culture of Milk

1 Great Mothers and Cows of Plenty 13

2 Virtuous White Liquor in the Middle Ages 34

3 The Renaissance of Milk 58

Part 2 Feeding People

4 Cash Cows and Dutch Diligence 83

5 A Taste for Milk and How It Grew 100

6 Milk Comes of Age as Cheese 118

7 An Interlude of Livestock History 138

Part 3 Industry, Science, and Medicine

8 Milk in the Nursery, Chemistry in the Kitchen 153

9 Beneficial Bovines and the Business of Milk 178

10 Milk in an Age of Indigestion 199

11 Milk Gone Bad 210

Part 4 Milk as Modern

12 The ABCs of Milk 235

13 Good for Everybody in the Twentieth Century 253

14 Milk Today 279

Notes 293

Bibliography 323

Index 337

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