Compare that to cereal crops like wheat or maize or vegetable crops, which require long uninterrupted growing seasons and irrigation.
Why is this important? When a troop of rampaging soldiers cuts through your village and pillages everything in sight, you grab your cows and family and boogey out of there. Essentially, you have a mobile food supply.
In the event of a drought, you have options as well. With wheat or vegetables, no rain == no food. With a dairy animal, you go kill the guy who controls the next pasture and let Old Bessie the cow feast on the grass. (The other key development was the introduction of potatoes, which remain buried under the ground safe from the rampaging army above -- my Irish ancestors subsisted on potatoes hidden from the English taxman and a cow that lived in the house.)
In Europe and the Near East, these things were really important, because there was always pillaging armies marching across the continent. Today, it's unlikely that some Mongol horde is going to loot my supermarket, so I drink milk and eat cheese because they are really tasty.
Today, India is the largest producer of Milk in the world, and that goes a long way in providing nutrition to its masses.
I wonder what happens to the male offspring of Cows in India?
The success of the lactose tolerance mutation may be partly due to sexual selection. It's been proposed that neoteny is a key feature of human evolution. The ability to drink milk as an adult is a neotenous trait, and it may have been "accidentally" selected for when other beautiful features were sexually selected.
David Rothenberg's book, Survival of the Beautiful, argues that biologists are sometimes "blinded" by natural selection and ignore sexual selection.
 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_selection
 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoteny
 - http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/thoughtomics/2012/10/25/...
Accidentally? Try getting laid when your GI tract is in rebellion. An accident my ass! (Or some ancestor's lactose-intolerant exploding one.)
According to this indirect citation , lactose intolerance varies by age and race, eg 85% of Chinese are lactose intolerant by age 10.
If a significant percentage of a genetic group develops lactose intolerance by age 10, then yes - it would most definitely affect growth.
Relevant quote - emphasis mine:
"Primary lactase deficiency is genetic, only affects adults and is caused by the absence of a lactase persistence allele. It is the most common cause of lactose intolerance as a majority of the world's population lacks these alleles."
edit: Also, I can't believe you linked to some forum called "The Straight Dope" as your citation.
"Chinese and Japanese populations typically lose between 80 and 90 percent of their ability to digest lactose within three to four years of weaning." (Swagerty et al, 2002)
Ergo, lactose intolerance is a factor in children in some genetic groups. Your citation (sourced from the same wikipedia page) does not refute that.
Typically neoteny is achieved by mutations that alter developmental timing, and it's easy to imagine that such a mutation could also result in sustained lactase production past the "normal" age.
As for the question of why all lactose-tolerant people aren't visually identifiable, keep in mind that there may not be just one variant of the lactose-tolerance mutation, and perhaps not every variant has complete penetrance. For example, perhaps one gene variant confers a 50% probability of lactose tolerance, but always confers a particular attractive trait.
Genes and organsisms are complex beasts, so traits will often be clustered together. An interesting related experiment is one performed on foxes, where they were bred for 'tameness' and gained a whole raft of other dog-like traits: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/807641/posts
Then you need to prove that the lactate gene is in linkage disequilibrium with that gene (thus capable of being "coming along for the ride".
Given the impact of a genetic mutation that improves metabolism, which has its own evolutionary benefits (improved ability to access energy) there seems little reason to invoke this third trait.
Side note: a possible attractive quality of lactose tolerance is an increase in calcium intake which can have multiple positive effects on the overal health of the individual including some outward indicators, stronger teeth for example.
edit: Growing up, we always had 2% in the house. From college on I drink skim, occasionally (once every few months) I get 1 or 2%, just to up the fat content (I'm a runner, not terribly concerned with weight gain, more or less trying to maintain body mass...)
And, just like you, I grew up on 2% until college, when I switched to skim. In the college dining hall, I would fill 3-4 glasses of milk with nearly every meal. My wife has teased me about it for years. :).
I don't really like to stand on the stump of "nutritional science," but I always find food choices interesting.
Eating non-sick/happy animals and animal products just seems to make more sense to me. Garbage in garbage out.
How does that work? You get twice as much sugar (lactose) than protein from milk.
See also http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/7...
Milk does have a low glycemic index, so it would reduce the average from the pasta: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Glycemic_index_and_gl...
Also lactose takes time to break down...
It only takes a couple of weeks without it for you to no longer crave it. Go long enough, and the taste of milk will actually put you off.
Anyway, if the OP likes milk, he should drink it. The "obesity epidemic" is not from people having a glass of milk with their dinner. If you don't like milk, then don't drink it. But getting all high and mighty on some comment site about what tastes other people should experience is just plain irritating.
Good question, you seem to be just trying to stir up an emotional argument for no reason. Nobody said he should give it up. Someone simply pointed out that he doesn't need it like he claims he does.
>It seems unlikely that not drinking milk for a while would make that stop happening.
Try it. Taste isn't just a case of "this contains calories so it tastes good". I like the taste of broccoli, and it has very little sugar and fat. Many people have the experience of not consuming milk for a while, then finding they don't like it any more.
I'm pretty sure if I tried to copy ImprovedSilence's habits now, I would die. I know I would wish for it :-)
I don't think sequence is quite right. There are several non-agrarian nomadic peoples that raise large land mammals for their milk. Keeping it in the cow/horse/camel keeps it from spoiling.
Cheese and butter just makes it easier to transport the energy without having to transport the cow.
(fermenting it also gives it longevity and was known in much of the ancient world)
You may not get to creating Emmenthal/Parmesan straight away, but there are many other viable steps prior to modern cheese.
First you make something. They you make it good. These days we call it "minimum viable product (MVP)".
Get a bottle of fat milk straight from a cow, leave it on the kitchen table for a couple of days to turn sour (depends on room temperature) and you'll get yogurt, maybe not as thick as the one you can buy at a store, but it's good nonetheless. Then if the batch was good, you can save some of this batch for later batches, for an addition of bacteria cultures, thus with each successive batch you'll get better and better results. There are absolutely no additives needed (unless you make a business out of it, in which case you want predictable results), with the end-result being 100% chemicals free.
Now try doing that with the bottled milk you can find in the stores.
So, consumer tastes are changing based on industry trends ... like these fuckers put extra sugar in everything, being a vicious cycle, because extra sugars in foods give dependency on foods with extra sugars in them. And let's not forget of additives like gels for extra-thickness, or dyes, or powder milk, or other chemicals (because degreased milk or yogurt does not resemble real milk or yogurt, so they have to make up for it somehow) and also preservatives for longer shelf life, etc, etc...
Many consumers would turn their nose on real, fat, non-pasteurized milk or on fat barbecued pork neck, because it's somehow unhealthier than McDonalds' burgers or diary products enriched with chemicals.
And tastes are grown, so if people get used to Danone yogurts that never rot, then that's what they start expecting.
Funny story, the punch line for a Danone milk cream in my country on a TV commercial has been "look how well it dissolves". And I was like "oh wow, can cream really do that?". Go figure.
"Chemicals" when used in the context of food, means "artificial food additives".
You may disagree that such additives are bad for you health - but just how our early ancestors had low-lactose tolerance, we also have low tolerance for such additives. Maybe our children's children will be able to digest such foods better / more efficiently and without side-effects, but in the meantime there's a wealth of research showing strong links between food additives and increasing rates of cancer, obesity and diabetes.
I truly doubt that.
A large part of the domesticated animals bred in e.g. Norway (because I happen to be from there, not for any particular other reason) are bred largely independent of the agriculture.
Goats and sheep have been popular in Norway for a long time exactly because you don't need to provide food for them from a field you tended, but can send them out to graze in untended fields or in particular up in the mountains during the summer, and can if you don't have access to hay from a farm, collect hay/grass from untended fields to serve through winter. While there's certainly benefits to combining the two in climates like Norway where you need to collect a substantial food source for winter, even in Norway that was/is a convenience rather than a pre-requisite.
Up North, the Saami people have been nomadic for as long as we have recorded history of them, without any agricultural tradition, and some communities eventually took up herding and taming reindeer while continuing their nomadic lifestyle, following the migrations of the herds, in large part because while there's copious food for the reindeer, the soil and climate is not conducive to agriculture. They've largely done this without any nearby source of hay or other food from agriculture available at all.
Whether or not there's historical basis for saying agriculture came first or not, I don't know, but there are plenty of examples that shows that agriculture isn't required for domestication.
Bacterias split lactose to grow, consuming energy in the process and dissipating it as heat and runaway gases.
Indeed, Norwegian goat cheese is a whey cheese, made by boiling milk, cream and whey leftover from other production (such as more usual casein based cheese). There are a number of other traditional whey cheeses from other countries as well.
Here's a tip for others - you can buy Lactase pills at a pharmacy and take them just before you eat any meal that contains milk. This gives you the enzymes you need without your body producing in it.
And it's really awesome. I only started doing this a year ago, but now I can eat many more cheeses, drink milkshakes, etc., without feeling bad. And it happens surprisingly often - every time you want to eat pizza, pastas, etc.
Seriously, is you're lactose intolerant, give it a try - it improved my life considerably.
I'm very skeptical of this. I was born and raised in Asia, and all of my peers were raised on a diet with regular milk consumption. So either we were a huge cohort of statistical outliers or that number is way, way off.
I do know that lactose intolerance rates for Asians is much higher (and consequently, less socially troublesome due to the fact that dairy is generally not a core part of cuisine), but 90% is way, way, way out there.
Interestingly, my wife and I grew up on milk in India (to adulthood), but found ourselves mildly lactose-intolerant to American milk.
Edit: changed "includes" to "excludes".
the difference is I can drink a quart of milk (a little under a liter) without any side effects
All of the Indians I know are fine with milk and my understanding is that milk is now part of the regular childhood diet in Japanese school lunches .
Anecdotally, I do know a few Chinese Americans who grew up in the U.S., moved to Hong Kong during their middle and highschool years, didn't tough the stuff while there and came back lactose intolerant as adults. So I suppose it may be an acquired skill one has to keep up with? (their younger siblings who didn't make that trans-pacific journey are fine with milk)
1 - http://kyuushoku.blogspot.com/
Anecdotally, this seems untrue. I was back in China for 2 months earlier this year and milk (fresh, no less, with expiration days of literally 3 days or less) are sold everywhere. Clearly there is a high demand for milk in mainland China (so much so that there are even brands of imported milk from Germany). This was in the capital of Beijing.
Actually, a little more looking, I think I also found the Yale study it's from. Here's the power point: http://cst.yale.edu/sites/default/files/worldwide distribution of lactose intolerance, madison 2010.pptx
Or perhaps East Asians developed different kinds of social and economic structures that mitigated the disadvantage of not being able to consume milk.
Or perhaps the necessary mutations just didn't get incorporated into East Asian genes. Also according to the article, the lactose tolerance gene spread as far as India but didn't cross the Himalayas.
Milk allergy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milk_allergy
Understanding and Managing Your Child's Food Allergies: http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Managing-Allergies-Hopki...
-- asian who drinks milk daily.
Odd that they don't mention physical displacement: invasion, dispossession, death. The gene would likely have coincided with other developments of civilization, such as weapon technology, greater numbers, greater cooperation, specialised soldiers etc. Maybe there's evidence against it, but odd it's not addressed, with a puzzlingly high "selection differential". Another factor might have been sexual selection, if the new folk were healthier looking etc.
Note they are talking specifically about the West - agriculture and civilization spread throughout the East without this gene.
I'm just glad I'm not lactose intolerant, so thanks to whoever in my billions of ancestors decided to keep at it.
(as someone with lots of northern European ancestry and lactose intolerance, it's a fun subject. I can still eat cheese and yoghurt and half-digested milk, so it isn't much bother)
Really? A plant-based whole foods diet is probably the best cure out there for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. (google Dean Ornish, Neil Barnard, John McDougall)
The author tells a good story but his bashing of agriculture is unsupported.
I don't agree with the OP necessarily that agriculture led to the above diseases (agriculture is a very broad term), but it is true that these are "diseases of civilization" - such disease have conspicuously shown up under Western dietary influence. Cue Gary Taubes and his book, Good Calories / Bad Calories.
1. Early farmers had less access to variety of diet compared to hunter-gatherers. It is hard to disagree with this one. For a lot of Asia, Rice is still the main food and rice on its own contain little more than carbohydrates.
2. Risk of starvation if crops failed.
3. Encouraged crowded societies and deterioration in position of Women. Agriculture forced women to have children often and that in turn impacted their health. I don't know much about Europe but in India Govt. still runs advertisement encouraging Women to have kids at a gap of 3 years or more. I think it is widely held that healthier Mother in general means healthier baby.
I believe the massive population explosion of humans can not be explained without agriculture.
So billions more people are able to survive somehow now...but our "health" has gone down?
There is the health of the human species...which has gone up undeniably, evidenced by the billions more people being fed...and then there is the health of the individual human.
So you were referring to the health of an individual when discussing agriculture's impact? Sample size seems kinda small. Also...seems that most of us wouldn't be around for that discussion as the non-agricultural food supply would not allow us to be born.
It moderates strong flavors, smooths out acidic drinks, fluffs up eggs among many other thousands of beneficial food uses.
Other dairy products like butter and cheese are key to an immense palette of flavors and cooking techniques.
Dairy is so delicious that I've even seen people with violent milk allergies put up with the consequences just to scarf down a few bites of custard or ice cream.
Plus, animals can graze on land you can't farm, and they're very portable.
Likewise, people in Sweden for example have a 100x higher lactose tolerance, because there's less sunlight throughout the year.
"We became, in the coinage of one paleoanthropologist, “mampires” who feed on the fluids of other animals."
Not hating for those who want to feel good about their love for milk, but I don't think today's milk is much more than a treat and baking ingredient.
I believe the benefit of drinking milk is obvious. A herd can take calories from grass and drink mud, while the human enjoys a source of clean, caloric, nutrient rich drink that can go anywhere. Farmers, on the other hand, can just be ran over, pilled or sieged by enemies.
This would support massive switch to tolerance (simple survival of the fittest).
It also supports the spread, as a bacteria or virus would not have made it out of the "islands" (himalayas, oceans) and so tolerance wouldn't have been an advantage.
Does anyone know why some East Asians (such as myself) are lactose tolerant? Is that evidence of interbreeding in the past?
Perhaps the opposite was true in Asia and your genes managed to survive where the tolerance was an disadvantage?
I'm allergic to cats, and while I might often joke that they're beasts from hell (seriously, have you ever paid attention to cats? They're preternaturally Satanic,) I don't actually wish them any harm.
I know nothing of milk allergies or their severity -- is it so bad that just being near milk will cause you troubles, or is it only ingestion/contact. If the former, I suppose I get it. If the latter, why would it bother you that other people choose to consume it?
As I was growing up, milk, being recognized as healthy part of a diet, was basically forced on me during school - okay, not literally, but the school lunches only provided milk or chocolate milk, the water fountains didn't work reliability, and the cafeteria staff would always look down on my if I brought my own juice. Sometimes it was easier to just gulp down the milk and then deal with stomach cramps/diarrhea during my afternoon classes followed by rushing home to use the bathroom before I exploded.
One of the best parts about going away to college was being able to select my own beverages with my meal. If you want to have milk, that's fine with me, just don't force me to have to consume it.
So... it can be really serious.
The article itself says
>Two hundred thousand years later, around 10,000 B.C., this began to change. A genetic mutation appeared, somewhere near modern-day Turkey, that jammed the lactase-production gene permanently in the “on” position.
This is NOT a genetic mutation. The gene was already there but not turned on past the toddler years. I searched this entire page of comments and no one knows or points this out?
Because the dairy industry in the US alone gets $4 billion per year in subsidies from taxpayers?
That said, I find most cereal is much better dry, particularly flavorful cereals like grape nuts. I am not a fan of milk at all.
Really, I like eating plain Kashi cereals and drinking a glass of milk separately. It provides close to complete nutrition, from protein to fiber to vitamins. I just don't like them combined. Even the plain, tastes-like-cardboard Kashi cereals, I eat like a snack.
For the unsweetened unflavored variety, my local Whole Foods carries Silk, 365, and/or Earth Balance. All three have about 1-2 g sugar per cup, instead of 6-8g in normal (sweetened) soy milk. Some other kinds of milk are worse. I used to know someone who drank goat's milk and some other powdered milk that had 11g and 12g sugar per cup, respectively.
My cereal is moderately low on sugar already (6g per serving among 30g carbs), and it took some getting used to it with low-sugar soy milk, but I can't go back now. If I have to use "normal" (really: sweetened) soy milk, which is still only 6 or 7g sugar per cup, I can feel the sugar rush and it makes me mad.
It's made me hypersensitive to (added) sugar in most foods. I recently tried drinking some sweetened almond milk and I couldn't drink it. It was awful.
Almond milk has 60 cal per 12 oz,
Vanilla Silk has 150, "Unsweetened" silk has 120.
Coca Cola has ~145
I know here in Canada for decades margarine had to be smuggled into the country, when it was legal it couldn't be yellow like butter (but even butter has artificial yellow colour added), it certainly couldn't be called butter.
Sounds like anticompetitive political corruption by the dairy industry; I can't imagine how that protects consumers.
Do you also have a problem with ground peanut spread being called "peanut butter"?
As for PB I'm not a dairy farmer.
The reason for laws restricting colour additions to margarine was explicitly because it is sufficiently close to butter in taste, texture and usage that it created a substantial competitive pressure on butter sales because people would happily pick margarine over butter to save money. So much so that the separate coloring failed to stem the growing demand.
I guess it's all about the color, see milk glass.
If not you clearly didn't read the article, as this is basically an article about human evolution/genetic mutation.