Land of Milk (and honey)  

Posted by Brock Booher

The best biblical compliment given to any geographic location is a simple phrase - a land flowing with milk and honey. Having traveled a bit, I guess you could say that I consider the quality and quantity of a country’s milk a key indicator of its civilization.

Why milk? Milk is a highly perishable product that requires cleanliness, constant care, and daily effort.

To get milk to market first you need keep cattle that you don’t plan on eating, at least right away. That in and of itself is an indicator that the agricultural capacity of a location can support more than subsistence farming. Second you need a stable workforce. Dairy farmers don’t take vacations. Third you need a sophisticated transportation system that includes refrigeration so that you can get the product to market before it perishes or becomes a health hazard for consumers. Last, you need an enforceable health code to ensure the quality and consumer safety of the product.

Yes, you can call me a milk drinker. Having grown up on a dairy farm, you might say that I am a connoisseur of the world’s milk. Since I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t frequent the local bars and imbibe the local beer, wine, or liqueur when I travel. Instead I head to the nearest supermarket and check out to the dairy department.

A lot of locations produce the sterilized cartons of milk that don’t require refrigeration. I walk right by those shelves. I am looking for fresh moo juice. I don’t care if it comes in bags, bottles, or cartons, but it has to be fresh. Fresh milk lets me know that I am in a civilized place.

Drinkable Peach Yogurt
Next I look for the range of varieties and brands. The more variety, like chocolate milk, whole milk, two percent milk, or any other variation of fresh milk, means more sophistication of milk production. More variety of milk means that this connoisseur has choices, and I like choices.

I also pay attention to the quantity of milk available both on the shelf, and per average container. In the US we find shelf after shelf of gallons of the good stuff. In other countries I might only find fresh milk in liter bags. Since I can drink a quart of milk for breakfast without breaking a sweat, I get a warm fuzzy feeling when I find a dairy department stocked full of cold fresh lactated liquid.

After sampling the fresh stuff, I also look for the milk byproducts like butter, cheese, yogurt, or ice cream – especially the ice cream.  Statistically speaking they have proven that people with more education and higher IQ’s eat more ice cream. It doesn’t surprise me since ice cream is the highest form of milk byproducts. I’m just not sure if smart people eat ice cream or eating ice cream makes you smart. I will have to continue my research.

I recently returned to Lima, Peru, after fifteen years. One of the first things I did was head to the nearby supermarket and check out the dairy section. I was pleased to see that both availability and variety of milk have improved in my absence. I took great pleasure in sampling the various fresh milk products delivered in one-liter bags. I enjoyed the drinkable peach yogurt produced by Gloria. Of course I had to sample the D’Onofrio ice cream that street vendors sell everywhere. (Based on the ubiquity of ice cream vendors in Lima, they must be some of the smartest people in the world.) After several days of assessment, I would say that Peru has made tremendous strides in the last few years. It has become a land flowing with milk, and that is progress you take to the fridge.

Yes, I’m a milk drinker, a veritable connoisseur of cow juice, a maniac for moo-moo, a disciple of dairy. For me, nothing says “civilization” like a large, well-stocked dairy section in a grocery store. To say that a land flows with milk is a compliment of biblical proportions.

Dairy Section of Supermarket in Miraflores
(No offense meant to all you fans of apiculture. I love honey too, but for me, milk is the bee’s knees.)

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at Tuesday, November 08, 2011 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


We have anecdotal evidence from our house that ice cream (and dark chocolate) makes you smarter.

November 8, 2011 at 11:42 AM

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