The Uses Camel Milk Across the World
November 13, 2018
Camel milk is a newly growing craze in the American economy and health industry, however seldom do we wonder where the trend of drinking camel milk actually came from, and who started drinking it, and utilizing camels for their many resources first.
Camels have been around for longer than many assume. Ancient civilizations have used camels and their milk for a multitude of resources when people couldn’t exactly go to the grocery store and pick out the foods they want for the week.
There are two domesticated species of camels and two wild species of camels, the ancestors of which can be located in various regions of Andean South America. South American camels were also utilized for food. The animals were more than likely the first used meat in C’harki. They were also prized for their ability to navigate in the high-altitude arid environments of the Andes mountains. On top of that their wool was very useful. Their warm wool was used to clothe the people of the Andes.
However, many people are not aware of the qualities and benefits that come with drinking their milk, and the many civilizations that have used camel milk since the dawn of time. Camel milk has a wide range of nutritional benefits that can be seen throughout history.
Ancient & Modern Uses of Camel Milk
Camel herders and civilians may have survived for long periods at a time, solely on the milk when taking the camels on long distances to graze in desert and arid environments. Camel dairy farming was used as an alternative to cow dairy farming in dry regions of the world where bovine farming consumes large amounts of water.
Camel milk can be found in supermarkets in the UK, UAE, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, and the United States.
Nutritional Value of Camel Milk
Camel milk has enough nutrients to sustain a person through the day, many days at a time. In many countries, camel milk is given to babies suffering from malnutrition to help boost their immune systems and provide them with the vitamins necessary for survival. When comparing camel milk to other kinds of milk such as cow, buffalo and ewe milk, camel milk has a fat concentration containing fewer short-chained fatty acids.
The same long-chained fatty acids can be found. This may be a reason many civilizations have utilized camel milk as opposed to cow milk, being that in terms of fat content and proteins it is significantly superior.
The amount of cholesterol in camel milk is significantly lower than that of cow or goat milk. The nutritional value of camel milk goes beyond that. Camel milk contains:
- high vitamin content
- high mineral content
- high immunoglobin content
- 3x higher in vitamin C than cow’s milk
- 10 times higher in iron than cow’s milk
It’s no wonder the Bedouin, Nomad and Pastoral cultures got so much use out of camel milk many centuries ago. Compared to cow’s milk, camel milk is also high in unsaturated fatty acids and B vitamins but lower in vitamin A and B2. Aside from the genetic makeup of camel milk, there are many uses and how civilizations across the world have benefitted from it for centuries.
The Importance of Camels in Arab Culture
For Arab Bedouin, camel’s importance in some religions is existential. Many believe there is a religious link between camels and Arabs due to the female camel story of Prophet Saleh. The Prophet Saleh was said to have been sent to guide the Thamud people in an area between the towns of Tabuk and Medina in Saudi Arabia in 3000 B.C. The Thamud people worshipped many idols, and Prophet Saleh called upon them to worship God alone.
The people did not trust him and asked him to prove he was a prophet by creating a miracle:
To create a female camel out of a rock.
The prophet accepted and succeeded in this impossible task given to him by the native people. It’s said that some people believed him, while another group didn’t and killed the camel making God punish the civilization with a violent earthquake that struck the Thamud people. The people who believed in the prophet were spared, however, making camels historically sacred to Arabs.
Camels cost and can constitute quite a fortune for the Bedouin people. They used to offer camels as a mahr — a kind of a reverse dowry in which a groom or his family gives money and possessions to a bride and her family at the time of marriage. Abu Shamas stated, “Given the high value of these animals, Bedouin would also use them as ransoms to end conflicts between two families.” Camels generate profit for nomadic families in many other ways.
The Value and Price of Camel Milk
It’s known that camels can generate 1 gallon of milk on a daily basis, unlike cows, which can produce 8-10 gallons. This results in camel milk being slightly more pricey and rare than cow’s milk. Thus, many cultures have not made the switch to primarily using camel milk in their day to day lives.
That could all be changing soon with the widespread enthusiasm in the camel milk industry today, making camel milk spread across the globe faster than ever.
In Gaza, 1 quart of camel milk costs about $6, whereas a quart of cow or sheep milk doesn’t exceed $1. Cheaper, yet less effective in fighting toxicities and dangerous illnesses and germs. Not to mention, in the centuries that many civilizations across South America and Europe have been utilizing camel milk, no allergies towards camel milk have been reported or discovered, making camel milk the only dairy product with no allergens or negative side effects.
Pastoral Cultures Benefiting from Camel Milk
Pastoral cultures such as the Karrayyu herders in Ethiopia are facing a variety of challenges including frequent drought and land rights. By promoting camel milk and its products the civilizations are hoping it could have a positive impact on these cultures and help preserve traditions that have existed for hundreds of years.
So far, the leading cooperative working with this has 41 herders and 260 camels that produce about 1,000 liters of milk a day. They use this milk to make products such as cheese and pasteurized camel milk itself. Not only is it a vital food source and drink for the Pastoral people, but it could potentially save them from starvation and dehydration.
To recap, camels are a vital part of the middle east cultures. They provide quality resources such as food and drinks for the Bedouins, nomads, and pastoral people. Camel milk is high in proteins and healthy fats and acids that people of these civilizations have been utilizing for centuries and many civilizations all over the world will more than likely continue to use at a growing pace.
Although camel milk is slightly more expensive than cow milk due to the rarity of the product and valuable qualities it possesses, many companies such as Camilk Dairy offer it at the best and lowest prices for the best quality of milk. Many people throughout history have utilized this amazing product and we cannot wait to see what it accomplishes for the people of the world next.