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Spoiled: The Myth of Milk as Superfood

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by Anne Mendelson
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Milk has been important to the food supply of many cultures for thousands of years. But, as Anne Mendelson explains in this passionate and detailed book, the idea of fresh drinking milk as an indispensable part of a balanced diet is a recent and mistaken fabrication which ignores history and science.

Mendelson, a culinary historian whose previous subjects have included the creation of The Joy of Cooking and Chinese cuisine in America, writes incisively about scientific and cultural blindspots—to say nothing of greed—which have created a range of mistaken policies and attitudes.

Her account places the drive to provide and promote fresh drinking milk for everyone firmly in the greater context of American efforts to standardize the food supply and eliminate public health threats. Whatever the benefits of these goals, they were often undertaken on the basis of incomplete science and faulty assumptions that what was good for one group of people in one place was good for others elsewhere.

The results have been as absurd as dairy farms in the Arabian desert and the replacement of local cattle breeds amply suited to particular environments with animals which had been selected for pastoral life on another continent. Just as significantly, other uses of milk, including in its fermented forms, have been overlooked and undervalued.

A model investigation.


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