How to Milk a Camel
An Arabian proverb warns, “If the camel once gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow.” Well, it seems that the camel has wheedled its way into the dairy industry in the US.
Camel’s milk has been enjoyed by nomads and Bedouins in the Middle East for centuries. In the Middle East, camel’s milk is often referred to as “liquid gold” or “white gold” because of the healing properties it is believed to possess.
But until 2009 it was a felony offense to sell camel’s milk in the US. However, in April, 2009, Dr. Millie Hinkle got over that “hump” by introducing a proposal to the Food and Drug Administration to change the law. Consequently, camel’s milk is now included in the dairy laws governing the sale of milk.
Only since January, 2014 is camel’s milk available on the market for purchase. Camel’s milk is distributed by Desert Farms, the creation of University of Southern California student, Abdul-Wahab, a native of Saudi Arabia.
Desert Farms receives its camel’s milk from seven small camel farms, mostly owned by Amish farmers. Currently, camel’s milk sells for about $18 a pint. The reason for the high price is due primarily to the scarcity of camels. With the camel population at only 5,000 in the US, cows out-number camels 18,000 to 1.
But there are other challenges to milking camels. Camels are large, free-spirited beasts that can be downright cantankerous! Apparently, camels also have a very ticklish udder. (Do you find that embarrassing?) Larry Seibel, a breeder of exotic animals, explains that when you go to milk a camel, “You can forget what you know about cow milking.”
Another challenge is that camels can’t give milk without the stimulation of a calf. This makes camel-milking more laborious and time-consuming. Also, the lactation cycle of a camel is shorter than a cow’s and camels have a very long gestation period (14 months).
Why the hullabaloo on camel’s milk?
Camel milk is being touted as “the next superfood,” according to Frank King, a chiropractor and founder of a company that specializes in natural and homeopathic products. King also raises camels for their milk.
With more absorbable calcium, less fat, fewer calories, 56 units of insulin per liter, and its other unique properties, some believe that camel milk can provide relief to those with:
- Crohn’s disease
- Lyme’s disease
- Various allergies.,,
Dr. Hinkle explains with regard to treating cancer with camel’s milk, “We have seen such astonishing results with patients on the camel milk and have heard from patients around the world who have benefited from the camel’s milk.” She is also conducting research on the benefits of camel’s milk for autistic children and people with other diseases.
Abdul-Wahab, owner of Desert Farms, claims, “90% of our customers are parents who are using the camel milk for autism. Almost all the calls we receive on a daily basis are regarding autism, and that’s because there are a lot of studies in the PubMed database showing a positive effect of autism and camel milk together.”
What does camel milk taste like?
Though I cannot speak from personal experience, Desert Farms claims that camel milk tastes “just like milk.” “It does have a distinctive taste – slightly salty, some say, but always deliciously smooth, refreshing and fulfilling.”
Other healthy milk alternatives
On the hunt for other healthy milk alternatives, there are a variety of non-animal “milks” available including: almond, coconut, flax, hemp and rice.
On the more exotic side, you’ll find donkey milk, llama milk and water buffalo milk. (Good luck trying to milk a water buffalo!) Ironically, donkey milk is touted as being the closest to human’s milk.
But perhaps the simplest, most available option is raw cow’s milk. Apparently raw cow’s milk has many of the same properties as camel’s milk. We don’t normally experience those benefits due to the pasteurization and homogenization process that most commercial milk goes through.
Dr. Deborah Gordon, MD, refers to raw cow’s milk as “delicious medicine.” She explains that this complex whole food contains digestive enzymes, complete with its own antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-parasitic mechanisms.
Raw milk is full of fat and water-soluble vitamins, numerous minerals, trace elements, all eight essential amino acids, more than 60 enzymes and the omega-6 fatty acid—CLA—that has an amazing effect on diseases such as insulin resistance, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
Many people who are lactose intolerant are able to drink raw milk and this simple healthful drink may reduce asthma and allergies in children. Raw cow’s milk is also being used to treat children with autism.
There is so much more data than we can cover in this brief article. The point is, before you shell out the big bucks for camel’s milk, you may want to try good old-fashioned raw cow’s milk. The key with raw milk is to know your source. Many health food stores and even some grocery stores now sell raw milk.
You can also purchase raw milk from local organic farms. Some questions to consider when buying from a local farmer are:
- Does the farmer drink this milk?
- How long has the farmer been producing raw milk?
- In what environment are the cows raised?
- How frequently is the milk tested for purity and what are the results?
- Do the cows look clean?
You may not have to reach for the camel’s milk if you find a good source of raw cow’s milk and try it! But if you want to spend a little more and try the latest milk option, go to Desert Farms online and order a pint of camel’s milk.