Already a traditional beverage option and popular alternative to cow’s milk in Africa and the Middle East, camel milk, with its apparent health benefits, is drawing a new crowd of consumers in the U.S. and Asia — and Australia is answering the rather expensive call.
The land Down Under is in a unique position to fill this request because it is home to the largest herd of wild camels in the world, Good Earth Dairy chief executive officer, Marcel Steingiesser, — a camel milk convert — told Bloomberg.
“We (at Good Earth’s dairy) have the opportunity to make the best camel milk,” Steingiesser said. “Australia has an incredible reputation in food quality safety standards and that’s a great opportunity for all camel dairies in Australia.”
But camel’s milk, when compared to the bovine variety, is far more expensive. A liter imported from the United Arab Emirates costs about $19 while two liters of cow’s milk is just $4.30, on average.
There are only a few camel dairy farms in the United States, like Troyer Family Farm in Michigan, and the animal’s milk has been approved by the FDA for consumption.
It has a number of health benefits, and has been cited by experts as being beneficial for people suffering from Type 1 diabetes and autoimmune diseases.
“Studies have shown that the consumption of camel milk increases the bodies’ production of antioxidant enzymes thereby lowering oxidative stress within the body,” Ohio State University dietitian Lori Chong told Live Science. “Studies have also shown that daily consumption of camel’s milk can improve glycemic control while also lowering the insulin requirement of people with Type 1 diabetes.”
Camel’s milk is also lower in total fat and saturated fat than cow’s milk but about equal in calories and protein. It has more iron and vitamin C, too, and when raised on American farms, camel’s milk is typically GMO, preservative and hormone free.
The rise in popularity of camel’s milk comes at a time when traditional cow’s milk is being shunned for a number of other options — like hemp and nut milks, — and some even more obscure options, like cockroach milk.
The bugs’ milk is secreted in the form of crystals which typically nourishes offspring but can also be beneficial to people, according to the researchers at the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in India.
“The crystals are like a complete food – they have proteins, fats and sugars,” one of the scientists, Sanchari Banerjee, told the Times of India. If you look into the protein sequences, they have all the essential amino acids.”
The trend is also coinciding with New Zealand’s current Mycoplasma bovis bacteria epidemic among its cow population, resulting in the slaughter of 126,000 animals in an attempt to save the nation’s dairy herd — which is responsible for about 3% of the world’s milk production. The bacteria can cause cows to develop mastitis, pneumonia and arthritis.