What’s in a name?
Well quite a lot actually. When it comes to what we call things, there can be a world of nuance. And if we think about all the different names we have for milk, the extent of our unnatural dependence on animal products becomes glaringly obvious.
Think about it for a minute. We have ‘soya’ milk, ‘rice’ milk and ‘almond’ milk. We feed our babies ‘breast’ milk. Yet when it comes to ‘cow’s’ milk we simply call it milk. No prefix required.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve received a ‘look’ while breastfeeding one of the boys in public (just to add that I’m talking about when they were still babies, I’m not breastfeeding a teenager. I also didn’t have my nipple hanging out or a particularly grotty bra), yet grannies coo over babies being fed cow’s milk formula from a bottle. What’s wrong with this picture? As a society we have come so far from what is natural and what is healthy that we are judged negatively for doing the very thing nature designed for us to do!
I wonder what looks I would receive if I were to milk a dog and feed that to my children or pour it over my cornflakes. Or if I were to lift my baby up and let him suckle directly from the cow? (I bet you spit out your tea while you pictured that image!) So why is it so acceptable to drink the milk that cows produce for their own offspring when it’s just a small step away from the cow and put into a carton. Is it because we are so used to calling cows milk just ‘milk’, we can no longer even really acknowledge the connection between what we are drinking and where it came from?
So I reckon it’s time to reclaim the name for the cows. Next time you mention the word ‘milk’, make sure you qualify it properly. If it’s milk from a cow, then say so. The more we start giving the white stuff its proper name, the more we encourage people to make that connection and to hopefully realise that it makes no more sense for us to drink cow’s milk than it does dog’s milk, cat’s milk or rabbit’s milk.
As far as I’m concerned the only product that deserves the name of ‘milk’, pure and simple, is the milk I make for my babies.