Hey diddle diddle

Hey diddle diddle

Hey diddle diddle
The cat and the fiddle
The camel jumped over the moon

That variation of the popular nursery rhyme might be what children from the Sahara to Mongolia sing, because a lot of them are drinking camel milk these days. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, nearly five and a half million metric tons of camel milk is consumed every year.

Apparently that’s not enough to satisfy demand, but even so, there are plans afoot to increase production and distribute the milk throughout parts of Africa, Europe and even the Americas. FAO reps believe this market could expand to $10 billion per year.

It seems camels produce a very nutritious milk, containing plenty of iron, B vitamins, unsaturated fatty acids and three times more vitamin C than cow milk.

But some production problems will need to be ironed out before camel milk starts popping up at your local grocery store. For instance, at this point, most camel milk producers are nomads.

Another problem: Camels only yield about five liters of milk per day. But FAO dairy expert Anthony Bennett told NutraIngredients: “With improved feed, husbandry and veterinary care daily yields could rise to 20 liters.”

I wonder if “improved feed, husbandry and veterinary care” is code for “growth hormones”?

According to Robert Cohen, the executive director of the Dairy Education Board, a century ago the average cow produced only one quart of milk per day. Growth hormones have helped take care of that low-yield problem by expanding udders to sizes that a 1906 dairy farmer might find hard to comprehend. A cow on a typical U.S. dairy farm in 2006 may yield as much as 15 GALLONS per day.

So if you think it’s hard to find raw cow milk produced without hormones, antibiotics or pasteurization, just imagine how difficult it will be to find raw camel milk! Unless of course you happen to have a friend who’s a North African nomad.

“Camel Milk: The Dairy Product of the Future” NutraIngredients, 4/19/06, nutraingredients.com
“Holy Cow” Robert Cohen, Dairy Education Board, notmilk.com