2

votes

Were early humans exposed to milk?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 22, 2010 at 9:08 AM

A lot of paleo people say that we shouldn't drink milk because we had no exposure to it until very recently. Obviously the milking of wild animals is impossible.

However, if you kill a lactating animal, wouldn't it be possible to collect the milk from the udder? I think the udder is edible so I find it hard to believe that we would have wasted it. If this is true I'm sure we would have been exposed to some milk of some sort from time to time. Maybe not much, but I think it may be possible.

http://www.delaval.com/Dairy_Knowledge/EfficientMilking/The_Mammary_Gland.htm

Also, if you killed a calf, is it possible that the stomach would contain milk curdled by rennet? I don't think it's beyond the realms of possibility that we were in some way exposed to dairy by chance.

Opinions please!

90776a24cf6fe35d7610386e71304030

(135)

on August 04, 2010
at 02:02 AM

In reply to Aaron: If it is a fact that our ancestors were lactose intolerant, and that now there are clearly those who are NOT lactose intolerant, would it be fair to say that those who are not have adapted to the consumption of dairy? Isn't that the whole point behind paleo? Eat foods you are evolved to eat? What is the point of avoiding nutritious food if there are no negative repercussions?

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on April 23, 2010
at 10:55 AM

Whether or not some mythical "grok" regularly killed and ate lactating animals is totally irrelevant to what you should eat. It definitively was not a staple of the diet until agriculture and selective breeding made milk much more available, and so is a neolithic food. But **it doesn't matter if it's neolithic or not** Whether or not you can drink it or eat its byproducts without health effects is the point that actually matters. It's a question of generating and testing hypothesis, not pass/failing things based on totally speculative anthropology. Also KGH often states that milk is OK.

C76eced60ac16a6a95551cf2f319820f

(401)

on April 22, 2010
at 09:11 PM

that sounds well good! I saw an inuit family eat a raw seal on youtube the other day, impressive.

C76eced60ac16a6a95551cf2f319820f

(401)

on April 22, 2010
at 09:09 PM

fair point, although considering that this is a hypothetical question I don't think it's beyond the realms of possibility that we ate lactating animals sometimes.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on April 22, 2010
at 09:08 PM

I think I will just stick with actual vegetables for the moment :)

Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

(4089)

on April 22, 2010
at 08:49 PM

I'm sure that Grok would have found Auroch milking jokes hilarious. @Matthew: the Inuit will apparently take caribou intestine full of semidigested lichen and other vegetation and eat it like sausage. It's a novel way of getting your veggies.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on April 22, 2010
at 08:45 PM

It makes sense that a culture that is in balance with nature would not kill lactating animals. It's a HUGE waste. You end up with the meat equivalent of 1.5 (or less) animals instead of 2 if you had just left them alone.

C76eced60ac16a6a95551cf2f319820f

(401)

on April 22, 2010
at 08:13 PM

Some cultures boil bears alive! Sorry, I fail to see your point.

C76eced60ac16a6a95551cf2f319820f

(401)

on April 22, 2010
at 08:11 PM

This is not a question about whether we should drink milk or not. It's not about what makes you sick, it's about whether it's reasonable that sometimes we were exposed to milk. I was after opinions, biology, experience not people scalding the question!

C76eced60ac16a6a95551cf2f319820f

(401)

on April 22, 2010
at 08:08 PM

It matters because a lot of people in this community like to be told what to do. If a guru says you can drink milk, people will. Kurt says eliminate dairy as step 12, and I bet there are people out there who will get rid of it in the order he writes. Cordain says don't drink milk cos we didn't have it until agriculture. I merely thought to question that. It appears that most of the foods that paleo people eat are based on history and science. This is a historic question, and I think that a thread on a paleo website is probably the best place to raise it.

5740abb0fa033403978dd988b0609dfd

(2633)

on April 22, 2010
at 08:06 PM

Non-pasteurized milk still has the lactase enzyme present. They may be relying on the presence of lactase to make the raw milk digestible for them. Also there are two types of dairy protein, alpha and beta. Holesteins, our primary dairy source are alpha. Many people have problems with alpha. Goats are beta. If you've ever heard someone complain they can't drink cow milk, but are OK with goat, this is what is causing their problem.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 22, 2010
at 06:40 PM

Fact: our ancestors were lactose intolerant. This has been proven time and time again. I don't know what else to say. I certainly know I am smart enough to stop eating/drinking things that make me sick

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 22, 2010
at 06:39 PM

Fat: our ancestors were lactose intolerant. This has been proven time and time again. I don't know what else to say. I certainly know *I* am smart enough to stop eating/drinking things that make me sick

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on April 22, 2010
at 02:13 PM

True that was just speculation on my part. The vegetable contents of rumem of ruminant animals are added untill it is full and then feremented and broken down by bacteria. Maybe not so different from fermented vegetables like sauerkraut. I know most arctic peoples ate it.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on April 22, 2010
at 02:08 PM

Many HG cultures I studied in my anthropology class had a taboo against killing lactating animals

C76eced60ac16a6a95551cf2f319820f

(401)

on April 22, 2010
at 12:58 PM

I think if it did happen it would definitely be a seasonal thing. I can't remember the source but I've read that the contents of the stomach used to be highly prized by hunters. I think it's a mistake to associate modern standards of appetizing with what's important: energy. People here in England don't consider testicles to be appetizing, although many cultures do.

C76eced60ac16a6a95551cf2f319820f

(401)

on April 22, 2010
at 12:52 PM

I don't think for a minute it implies that we'd eat he feces. I don't know for sure but I doubt feces tastes good. Fried udder probably does. I know of several people who can drink raw milk but not pasteurised milk. I know of some people from Eastern Europe who drank milk all their lives in, yet come over here to discover they're lactose intolerant when they start drinking pasteurised milk.

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4 Answers

3
8e75344356f4a455185ee52da0b90bf2

on April 22, 2010
at 11:13 AM

I have always believed this. I agree that Grok wouldn't have wasted any of the carcass if he could help it and he certainly would have no compunction about killing a pregnant animal or one with a nursing baby.

I can say for certain that one CAN get the milk out of the udder (I farm livestock and have collected colostrum from the udders of ewes and does who died during lambing/kidding).

I think our ancestors would have cottoned on pretty quickly to there being something tasty (milk) in the udder of a female kill. They wouldn't have let it go to waste, i'm sure.

2
4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on April 22, 2010
at 07:57 PM

I don't understand why the ability of some paleolithic humans somewhere to sometimes acquire a food source says anything at all about that food source.

There is zero evidence that humans consumed animal milk in any significant quantity until the advent of agriculture. This generates a weak hypothesis - that milk is bad to drink because we are not adapted to it. Reality is more nuanced: If you are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk proteins, drinking milk is bad. If you are not any of those things, it's probably fine. In other words, if you are from a lineage that is adapted to milk consumption and still retain that ability, go right ahead. If you are not, or are an unfortunate like myself who managed to lose their milk drinking skillz, then you'll probably regret it. If you have vague non-specific allergy symptoms or auto-immune disorders, kick milk (and all the other neolithic agents) out of your diet for a while and see if things improve.

Whether or not paleolithic hunters killed lactating animals and drank their milk is both totally unknowable and totally irrelevant. Sure, some proto-people probably drank some milk from a dead animal 250,000 years ago. They probably crapped their brains out the next day and got on with life. Why does that matter one way or the other? All that does is generate a very weak hypothesis which, as we can see through basic observation, fails to explain reality.

C76eced60ac16a6a95551cf2f319820f

(401)

on April 22, 2010
at 08:08 PM

It matters because a lot of people in this community like to be told what to do. If a guru says you can drink milk, people will. Kurt says eliminate dairy as step 12, and I bet there are people out there who will get rid of it in the order he writes. Cordain says don't drink milk cos we didn't have it until agriculture. I merely thought to question that. It appears that most of the foods that paleo people eat are based on history and science. This is a historic question, and I think that a thread on a paleo website is probably the best place to raise it.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on April 23, 2010
at 10:55 AM

Whether or not some mythical "grok" regularly killed and ate lactating animals is totally irrelevant to what you should eat. It definitively was not a staple of the diet until agriculture and selective breeding made milk much more available, and so is a neolithic food. But **it doesn't matter if it's neolithic or not** Whether or not you can drink it or eat its byproducts without health effects is the point that actually matters. It's a question of generating and testing hypothesis, not pass/failing things based on totally speculative anthropology. Also KGH often states that milk is OK.

1
0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on April 22, 2010
at 12:44 PM

Yes it probably happened however it would probably be on very rare occasions.

Wild animals produce less milk than most farm animals do. Very little is stored in the unnders unlike cows that have been breed to store up milk all day to then be milked.

Most animal would only be suckling in the spring.

Smaller wild mammals have small udders. Large wild female mammals, if they have young with them, can get abit angry if threatened. Being trappled to death by an angry mother Mammoth or Auroch would not be fun. Original european wild cows called Aurochs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurochs were big angry beasts.

Baby animals tend to suckle many times during the day, not huge volumes in one go. Killing a calf immediately after it had suckled would be rare. I don't know if half digested milk mixed with digestive juices would look very appetizing. Perhaps something people only tasted once (my speculation).

Milk is low in calories compared to any other part of an animal. Energy dense food would be prefered. I don't think lactose intolerace would be an issue though with the tiny amounts of milk we are talking about.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on April 22, 2010
at 09:08 PM

I think I will just stick with actual vegetables for the moment :)

Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

(4089)

on April 22, 2010
at 08:49 PM

I'm sure that Grok would have found Auroch milking jokes hilarious. @Matthew: the Inuit will apparently take caribou intestine full of semidigested lichen and other vegetation and eat it like sausage. It's a novel way of getting your veggies.

C76eced60ac16a6a95551cf2f319820f

(401)

on April 22, 2010
at 12:58 PM

I think if it did happen it would definitely be a seasonal thing. I can't remember the source but I've read that the contents of the stomach used to be highly prized by hunters. I think it's a mistake to associate modern standards of appetizing with what's important: energy. People here in England don't consider testicles to be appetizing, although many cultures do.

C76eced60ac16a6a95551cf2f319820f

(401)

on April 22, 2010
at 09:11 PM

that sounds well good! I saw an inuit family eat a raw seal on youtube the other day, impressive.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on April 22, 2010
at 02:13 PM

True that was just speculation on my part. The vegetable contents of rumem of ruminant animals are added untill it is full and then feremented and broken down by bacteria. Maybe not so different from fermented vegetables like sauerkraut. I know most arctic peoples ate it.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 22, 2010
at 12:37 PM

Regardless of what we WOULD have eaten off of a corpse - most people were originally lactose intolerant. Most people of Asian descent (except Mongolian) still ARE lactose intolerant by and large.

What this means is, if they DID drink the milk from a dead mother, it would make them sick. Your logic, that we would simply consume it, is flawed, as it also implies we would eat the feces. And I know I am fecal intolerant :)

Additionally, the first evidence we have of dairy consumption is actually in butter and cheese form - both of which are VERY low in lactose compared to liquid milk. Natural selection eventually got rid of the lactose intolerance, but it was still in the neolithic era.

C76eced60ac16a6a95551cf2f319820f

(401)

on April 22, 2010
at 08:11 PM

This is not a question about whether we should drink milk or not. It's not about what makes you sick, it's about whether it's reasonable that sometimes we were exposed to milk. I was after opinions, biology, experience not people scalding the question!

5740abb0fa033403978dd988b0609dfd

(2633)

on April 22, 2010
at 08:06 PM

Non-pasteurized milk still has the lactase enzyme present. They may be relying on the presence of lactase to make the raw milk digestible for them. Also there are two types of dairy protein, alpha and beta. Holesteins, our primary dairy source are alpha. Many people have problems with alpha. Goats are beta. If you've ever heard someone complain they can't drink cow milk, but are OK with goat, this is what is causing their problem.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 22, 2010
at 06:39 PM

Fat: our ancestors were lactose intolerant. This has been proven time and time again. I don't know what else to say. I certainly know *I* am smart enough to stop eating/drinking things that make me sick

C76eced60ac16a6a95551cf2f319820f

(401)

on April 22, 2010
at 12:52 PM

I don't think for a minute it implies that we'd eat he feces. I don't know for sure but I doubt feces tastes good. Fried udder probably does. I know of several people who can drink raw milk but not pasteurised milk. I know of some people from Eastern Europe who drank milk all their lives in, yet come over here to discover they're lactose intolerant when they start drinking pasteurised milk.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 22, 2010
at 06:40 PM

Fact: our ancestors were lactose intolerant. This has been proven time and time again. I don't know what else to say. I certainly know I am smart enough to stop eating/drinking things that make me sick

90776a24cf6fe35d7610386e71304030

(135)

on August 04, 2010
at 02:02 AM

In reply to Aaron: If it is a fact that our ancestors were lactose intolerant, and that now there are clearly those who are NOT lactose intolerant, would it be fair to say that those who are not have adapted to the consumption of dairy? Isn't that the whole point behind paleo? Eat foods you are evolved to eat? What is the point of avoiding nutritious food if there are no negative repercussions?

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