Why is cows’ milk, which few nonwhite people can digest, promoted as a science-backed dietary necessity in countries where most of the population is lactose-intolerant? Why are gigantic new dairy farms permitted to deplete the sparse water resources of desert ecosystems? Why do thousands of U.S. dairy farmers every year give up after struggling to recoup production costs against plummeting wholesale prices?
Exploring these questions and many more, Spoiled is an unflinching and meticulous critique of the glorification of fluid milk and its alleged universal benefits. Anne Mendelson’s groundbreaking book chronicles the story of milk from the Stone Age peoples who first domesticated cows, goats, and sheep to today’s troubled dairy industry. Spoiled shows that drinking fresh milk was rare until Western scientific experts unaware of genetic differences in the ability to digest lactose deemed it superior to traditional fermented dairy products. Their flawed beliefs fueled the growth of a massive and environmentally devastating industry that turned milk into a cheap, ubiquitous commodity.
Mendelson’s wide-ranging account also examines the consequences of homogenization and refrigeration technologies, the toll that modern farming takes on dairy cows, and changing perceptions of raw milk since pasteurization. Unraveling the myths and misconceptions that prop up the dairy industry, Spoiled calls for more sustainable, healthful futures in our relationship with milk and the animals that provide it.
Fun Fact: Cleopatra, an ancient Egyptian queen, took milk baths to keep her skin looking young and healthy!