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Get Over the Hump: Camel Milk Does a Body Good

Posted by Jessica Windell on

milk jarsAlmond, cashew and soy. Cow, goat and bison. There’s no shortage of milk options out there, plant or animal based, each touting their own benefits. But there’s a dark horse in the race, one that’s quickly getting over the hump, gaining popularity among the ranks of nutritionists and farmers… camel milk, anyone?

Camel milk has been around for ages — particularly in dry climates like North Africa and the Middle East. In certain cultures, it is believed that camel’s milk can help children with asthma and autism. It’s also recommend for adults with allergies and digestive issues, used medicinally by nomadic people for centuries. Modern-day camel farmers proclaim that camel’s milk is so nutrient packed, it’s the closest thing to a human mother’s breast milk.

While they almost sounds too good to be true for one beverage alone, it’s hard to ignore these benefits of camel milk:

  • Rich source of protein with antimicrobial and protective activities
  • High vitamin and mineral count — 3x more vitamin C and 10x more iron than cow’s milk
  • Lower in lactose, so it’s easier to digest
  • Good source of insulin
  • 50% less fat, both saturated and unsaturated, compared to cow’s milk
  • Easily absorbed calcium

As plentiful as the benefits are, there are also a few drawbacks. It is definitely costly, mostly due to a camel’s general milk-producing age. A female camel cannot be bred until at least age 4. Her gestation period is 13 months and, unlike a cow who will milk whether or not she is feeding her calf, a camel must feed her calf for 12-18 months, or else she will stop producing milk altogether. Whoa, mama!

Another hurdle is the availability of camel’s milk in the U.S., which is very limited, and only recently became legal. There’s only a population of about 5,000 camels in the U.S., which is where Desert Farms comes in.

Cow to Camel Ratio - 18,000:1
Image via: Desert Farms

Desert Farms has made it their goal to bring camel milk to as many people in the U.S. as possible. In an attempt to make camel’s milk more widely available, Desert Farms’ founder encountered a like-minded group of allies in the Amish communities who owned camel farms. Now, working with several small, privately run farms, Desert Farms is able to provide camel milk not only to Americans (find it in Whole Foods), but to Europeans as well.

But, herein lies the real question: What does it taste like?

The consensus is that it tastes a bit like regular milk, though a little more on the salty side. If introducing it to children, it’s recommended to disguise it first in cereal or mixed with chocolate, until their taste buds become accustomed to the flavor.

With such a fractured milk market, consumers seem more willing to try something new and unusual. With its added benefits, camel milk might just be the way to go and, as Desert Farms says, “make everyday hump day.”