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An Experiment Comparing the Taste of Cow's Milk to Human Breast Milk

Karla has always had medium-sized dogs, but she now shares her home with a lovely little Dachshund.


A Distinct Difference in Flavors and Textures: My Eyes Were Opened!

After having her baby, a friend's grown daughter had a very large output of breast milk, much more than her baby could drink. So she decided to pump some of it for premature babies. She froze it, and it was picked up once a week by a volunteer.

My friend's daughter and new grandbaby were staying with her because her daughter's husband was in the service. She was having a great time with her first grandchild in her home, where she could hold him any time she wanted.

That was why my friend had access to human breast milk and why I was involved in one of her experiments. She has the quirkiest sense of curiosity; she'll try things other people wouldn't want anything to do with. She was on the insect bandwagon very early. She still buys packages of cooked, seasoned grasshoppers (without the legs) for those times she wants to have something crunchy in her salad. Most of the time, I'm sporting enough to follow her lead. (I've had grasshoppers in my salad at her house, and the combo is actually pretty good.) But I doubt that I'll ever be the leader when trying new dishes with this extreme cuisine aficionado.

It was no surprise to me that she eventually tried her daughter's breast milk. However, I didn't know that she had until I visited her one day, and she had an experiment ready for me. She had poured a few teaspoons of milk into two paper cups. When I asked what I would be drinking, she would only tell me that they were two types of milk. She wanted to know which one I preferred.

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She asked me to taste the breast milk first. It was light and pleasantly sweet, and had both vanilla and almond hits. The almond-like flavor made me think it was some new kind of almond milk. If so, I planned to buy some on my way home. Both the complex flavor and the light creaminess I felt on my tongue were very pleasing. I hoped it wasn't too packed with calories, because I knew that I would drink this milk regularly.

Then she had me try the second milk. It was terrible! It had a heavy and, after the first milk, an unwholesome taste, with an extremely chalky, almost gritty, feel on my tongue. It felt wrong in my mouth after the "almond" milk and it was even a little revolting. That was the cow's milk I had been drinking my whole life.

When she told me what the two types of milk were (and after I recovered from my surprise) I was amazed! After drinking milk that was specific to me as a human, I didn't recognize cow's milk and I didn't like it at all. I remembered the years of looking forward to a glass of cold milk and enjoying it thoroughly. I couldn't imagine how I had ever done it. That only proves that we can get used to anything.

I haven't had a glass of cow's milk since I tasted human milk. I had leaned towards almond or soy milk before that and made a total switch to them that day. The feeling of the cow's milk being totally wrong in my mouth, without even knowing what kind of milk I was drinking or what kind of milk I had just been drinking, caused a profound shift in my thinking about milk. I still eat cheese and yogurt, but my memory of the difference in the milks remains very clear.

I'm ok with eating cheese and yogurt because I have never thought of them as anything but another food. Before the experiment, I hadn't realized that I equated cow's milk with mother's milk - human milk. Now that I am aware that I think of all milk in that way, I'm glad that, if we don't drink human milk as adults, I have milk from vegetable sources handy. I don't think I would ever like another mammal's milk again.

I can see why babies like breast milk so much and why they look so contented. Between almonds and vanilla on your tongue and mama's arms holding you, what could be a better beginning to life?

© 2011 Karla Iverson

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