Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A short history of powdered milk

Good enough for babies and polar explorers: Good enough for me.

When I was a kid, you could get several several brands of powdered milk, if my rapidly deteriorating memory serves me right. And there were both "whole fat" and "skimmed" varieties. I remember philosophizing over what the deal was here. Why not simply use more water to get the "skimmed" variety? No one told me about fat to calcium ratios. Kids were left pretty much to their own devices those days.
Around the same time I spent a lot of time wondering about how Donald was a Duck, Mickey a Mouse and Pluto a dog, so what was Goofy?
I was that kind of kid.
But less and less people in developed countries buy powdered milk these days. You can tell a product is going out of fashion when staff no longer no where to put it. Powdered milk can be found along with the baking goods, next to the coffee whitener or even some place in the vicinity of the shorteners. It you're looking for powdered milk, every trip to the store is an adventure.
Maybe not an extremely good adventure, but you have to take what you get.
What kind of people want powdered milk, anyway? People who don't go to the store a lot and people without access to refrigeration, that's who. Fourteen million people in refugee camps and me.
But I gave up normal powdered milk a long time ago. Now I use baby formula. I no longer tell people about this because it grosses everybody out. It doesn't matter if I tell them it's just cow's milk with fish meal and some vitamins. It's not as if human mammary glands ever enter the picture here.
Baby formula actually tastes more like normal milk than conventional powdered milk. And people on hard-ass expeditions to the South Pole and Mount Everest use it all the time. And baby formula is always in the same spot in the store, right next to the diapers. Nobody fucks with parents of babies.
There is also the thrill of buying everyday baby stuff. It's sort of like being a father, while remaining absolutely and completely irresponsible.
Marco Polo supposedly reported about the use of powdered milk among the Chinese. Now New Zealanders dominate 40 per cent of the world market.
So much to learn.

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