Human milk is composed of about 88% water, 7% lactose, 4% fat, 1% protein, various ions, vitamins and antibodies.

The ions are mainly sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium and phosphate. Antibodies are mostly of the IgA (secretory) type and, together with the antibodies the infant gains from its mother via the placenta, are responsible for the infant's passive immunity in its first few months of life.

The composition of colostrum is quite different, with a much lower caloric content and an ionic composition more like plasma. It is said to contain more antibodies.

Breastfeeding infants is recommended for all mothers for the first few months of a baby's life.

Lactation is good.

... word bought ™-end and ©-ed by the Dairy industry so that no one else may use the term. (This is true as far as I know in the US and Australia. As for other countries I don't know, but it does explain why no soy milk can use the term "milk" in its product name. E.g. "Soy Dream", "Soy Drink", "Soy Delight"...)

A bit of additional information about some terms mentioned in previous Milk write-ups.
1. Protector of Mankind and why address a related topic: if humans should/ought to drink milk or not. In the "modern western society" it's not done to breasfeed babies, or accepted for just a couple of months, whereas in other parts of the world this may continue up to three years.
(side info: It is healthy for the baby as well as the mother to breastfeed. For the baby, because of the nutritional value, developing the flora in the intestine and their immune system. The mother will have less chance to develop breast cancer in a later stage in life.)
This would suggest that after those 3 years you won't need milk anymore. This is true for people with a darker skin colour, but not for the white people. People with a darker skin produce more vitamin D, more than white people who spend time in the sun. But the physiology of the white people have to compensate for that loss. This is done via drinking of milk: the lactose (milk sugar) separation (via beta-galactosidase) and uptake of the resulting glucose and galactose is related to this vitamin D production (the processes involved are not really clear at the moment of writing) (and facilitating calcuim uptake too). Further, this ability is NOT a gene mutation. All people on earth do have the enzyme beta-galactosidase when they're born, and will use that enzyme while they're breastfeeded. However, when you don't drink milk anymore, there's no use for the body to keep on producing the enzyme, aka: it is a relative deficiency.
This relative deficiency is considered an illness (...) and called lactose intolerance: instead of nicely separating the two sugars, the flora will ferment it anaerobically, attracting water and producing CO2 and a little bit of CH4 (carbon dioxide and methane). hiha, you're a bioreactor ;-)

2. bs says "cows which have been pumped up with human growth hormone, which is just really gross to me." Well, nope. Cows are pumped up with BST, an acromy for Bovine SomatoTropine, which is a cow growth hormone, and legal in the United States, but not in the European Union, although the US wants to push it into our throats during every GATT discussions and threatens with sanctions. Besides, there's more BST remaining in the meat than in the milk.
Maybe even more doubtful is the use of the vaccination/immunization treatments of the livestock which is correlated (a statistically significant positive relation) to the ever increasing occurence of milk protein allergy because of the transferred antibodies via the milk (uhm, researchers think it's the antibodies to blame, they're not 100% sure about that).

"Don't Drink Your Milk!" is a small book written by the late Frank Oski, M.D. as mentioned above. He maintained that bovine milk was not only unnecessary for humans but also actually harmful. Many other experts agree that cow's milk is a nasty secretion best reserved for calves (who by the way are removed from their mothers so we can have their milk). Dr. Mercola lists the following problems which he attributes to consumption of cow’s milk: “iron deficiency anemia, allergies, diarrhea, heart disease, colic, cramps, gastrointestinal bleeding, sinusitis, skin rashes, acne, arthritis, diabetes, ear infections, osteoporosis, asthma, autoimmune diseases and possibly even lung cancer, multiple sclerosis and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.”

The federal government subsidizes the dairy industry in the US. The US Department of Agriculture donated $200 million in 1999 to the dairy industry despite the fact that the cost of milk is at an all time high. The US WIC program includes milk and milk products as part of the food package they distribute regardless of the ability of the client to digest it. US schools (that receive federal monies) are required by law to put milk on every lunch tray unless the parents provide a doctor’s excuse note to not do this.

The natural age of weaning in humans is somewhere between 2.5 and 7 years as determined by research done by K. Dettwyler, an anthropologist and contributing author and editor of "Breastfeeding; Biocultural Perspectives".

Most people in the world become lactose intolerant as they grow past the natural age of weaning. Breastmilk is higher in lactose than any other milk so babies are not born lactose intolerant.

Cow's milk does not deserve a special spot in the Food Pyramid. All the nutrients we get from milk can be had from other foods and sunshine without the medical problems caused by milk. At best, milk should be viewed as a treat, not an essential nutrient. Commercial interests dictate government policy and the attitude that we need milk filters on down to become a deeply held belief.

Don't drink your milk.

SOURCES: (shows need for other sources of calcium)

Nearly all milk consumed these days is pasteurised. This quick industrial heat treatment kills any nasty bugs that might be lurking in the milk.

However many people, particularly no-nonsense rural types, prefer to drink untreated milk "straight from the cow". Without pasteurisation, milk tastes better and retains more vitamins and nutrients. There is also evidence that the anti-infection comparison is much less clear than commonly thought.1

These ideas seem to enrage many health bureaucrats who consider untreated milk to be highly poisonous. It is banned in Scotland, Australia, Canada and some American states. In England and Wales, it may only be sold in farm shops and local milk round deliveries, where is also known as "Green Top"2 There was another attempt to ban it here in 1997, but that seems to have run out of steam.

Unpasteurised milk is also important for the production of quality cheeses. Apart from the effect on chemical composition, heat treatment will kill living organisms that create subtle flavours.

1 - The Case for Untreated Milk, DR. B. M. PICKARD, Department of Animal Physiology and Nutrition, University of Leeds, Published by The Soil Association.
2 - A green-topped plastic carton from a shop will contain pasteurised semi-skimmed milk. A glass bottle with a green aluminium foil top will contain the real thing.

M.I.L.K. (Moments of Intimacy Laughter and Kinship) was an organization founded to produce a collection of photographs. Split into three volumes, Family, Love and Friendship, the objective of the project was to 'capture and celebrate the essence of humanity'. They succeeded. Offering a world record prize pool and promoting it as 'the photographic event of our time' they received over 40,000 entries from 192 countries for the coveted 300 places.

The books are exceptionally well produced; every photograph is laid out to exaggerate its beauty. A series of eight family portraits are presented in a foldout over a meter long. A photograph of Kim Phuc as a girl being burnt by napalm in the Vietnam War is separated with a semi-transparency from the photograph of her holding her baby, as though it is protecting him from the horror. Sometimes whole pages are dedicated just to a profound quotation, often from a famous philosophers but also from writers and engineers. The images are chosen for their content not their quality. Sometimes they are just snapshots that turned out well and others are professional prints.

It is pointless to try to describe the photographs. I have tried but I ended up writing an endless string of clichés. Although the images are all of moments we have experienced, these are more real, more perfect than our luke-warm existences. The images are so beautiful they make you shake. I close the book feeling an new emotion, a profound existential euphoria. It is the feeling of being human.

Some of the photographs, including the prize winners, are available online at

The books are easy to get hold of; as long as you live in Australia or New Zealand. There are no current suppliers for the USA, Britain or Canada.

I'd warn of spoilers, but most people seeing the film know that Harvey Milk died in 1978, assassinated by Dan White. And if they don't, the movie reveals its conclusion early on. This isn't a murder mystery or a crime film. It's a well-acted, beautifully filmed biography. It concerns a man who felt at forty he'd accomplished nothing of significance-- and eight years later had become the symbol and most celebrated representative of the modern gay rights movement.

We begin in the decades before the 1970s, before Stonewall. Grainy footage shows men rounded up by police, dragged from bars, crammed into paddy wagons. Time shoots forward to November 27, 1978, and the announcement of a double homicide. Then time rewinds, and a still-living Harvey Milk records events of his life, to be played in the event of his assassination.

Director Gus Van Sant blends original film with archival footage and Gumpish fusions. It's not entirely clear at times when actual glimpses of the seventies end and Hollywood handiwork begins. Van Sant uses other stylistic flourishes as well. Harvey Milk talks to the police in the aftermath of a killing he knows won't be properly investigated. We see the scene in the shattered glasses of the murdered man: reflected, distorted, and from an odd angle, as is so much non-mainstream history. When Milk later fears he's being stalked, the camera's focus narrows on him, as he moves quickly and fearfully. The background has been reduced to a blur, and his potential attacker, an obscured, threatening shadow.

Sean Penn, to use the cliché, disappears into the title role. The voice and mannerisms belong entirely to the character. He smiles like Harvey Milk. It's difficult to get past your eyes that this is Sean Penn. The film makes Milk heroic, but far from flawless. He can be manipulative and insensitive. His sense of theater borders on the excessive. I suspect, however, that these statements could be made of most successful political figures. Years of hard campaigns, blatant bigotry, and small victories taught him how the game is played. The film hints at other, less positive sides of its hero—-his promiscuity, for example-- but these it leaves incompletely explored.

Other actors do a fine job as Milk's associates, support staff, and opponents. Denis O'Hare as Senator John Briggs almost seems a parody of bigotry. Of course he dislikes gays and lesbians, and he feels God is on his side. Of course he advances arguments that many people cannot accept, but which follow consistently from a set of beliefs. These things are a given. But he also advances thoroughly irrational, obviously flawed reasons as well. He accepts, for example, that homosexuals are no more likely to be child molesters than heterosexuals-- and then insists that gay teachers be fired because they might molest children. He campaigns for a proposition that would take the jobs of homosexual teachers, and those of any other gay person working for a school, or anyone working for a school who supports the rights of homosexuals. We're reminded that people like him existed and exist. Lots of people like him. In case we doubt that, the film provides us with archival footage of Anita Bryant. We're reminded that, though prejudice remains, so very much has changed in recent decades.

Diego Luna plays one of Milk's later partners, a high maintenance man incapable of mixing with his lover's world. It's an interesting portrayal, though I could not really understand what drew Milk to this person.

Similarly, Dan White remains an enigma. We can only speculate on what, exactly, led a former police officer, decorated fire-fighter, Vietnam veteran, dedicated family man, and community leader to commit a double murder for which he knew he would be arrested and tried.1 Josh Brolin plays White as sincere but increasingly unstable, and increasingly fascinated with Milk's political successes. Milk himself claims he sees a fear of discovery in White's eyes, though the film does not (and, without inventing history, cannot) investigate what that might mean. The film limits his controversial trial and eventual suicide to a brief epilogue. We don't need to hear, for example, evidence that suggests he premeditated the killings. It's enough that we watch him slip through a window with a concealed weapon while Harvey Milk walks through the front door, past security and through metal detectors.

An interesting piece of history: Oliver Stone wrote a Harvey Milk biopic some years ago, hired Van Sant to direct, and cast Robin Williams in the lead role. That picture fell by the wayside. Van Sant eventually made this film from an entirely different script. Watching Milk, I can only conclude that cinematic history worked out for the best.

Actual history remains more ambivalent.

Milk has received eight Critic's Choice Awards (including Best Picture and Best Director), one Golden Globe (Best Actor, Sean Penn), a Writer's Guild of America Award (Best Original Screenplay), and eight Oscar Nominations, among other accolades.
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Dustin Lance Black

Sean Penn as Harvey Milk
James Franco as Scott Smith
Emile Hirsch as Cleve Jones
Josh Brolin as Dan White
Diego Luna as Jack Lira
Alison Pill as Anne Kronenberg
Victor Garber as Mayor George Moscone
Denis O'Hare as State Senator John Briggs
Joseph Crossas Dick Pabich
Stephen Spinella as Rick Stokes
Lucas Grabeel as Danny Nicoletta
Brandon Boyce as Jim Rivaldo
Howard Rosenman as David Goodstein
Kelvin Yu as Michael Wong

1. We know why he targeted the particular individuals, but the reasons why he turned murderous, and acted on his impulses in the specific manner that he did, remain cloudy.

A case for milk drinking:

A study carried out by McMaster University took 3 groups of young men (56 in total) ages 18-30 and put them through a rigorous 5 day a week weightlifting program for 12 weeks. After each workout the men drank either 2 cups of skim milk, a soy beverage with equivalent protein and energy or a sports drink with equivalent energy.

At the end of the study those who drank milk lost 2 pounds of fat; those who drank sports drink lost 1 and the soy drinkers lost none. The milk drinkers came out on top for muscle gain as well, gaining 63% more than the sports drink drinkers and 40% more than the soy drinkers.

While one of the funding sources was questionable (US National Dairy Council) the results look very promising for those seeking to gain muscle and lose fat.

Milk (milk), n. [AS. meoluc, meoloc, meolc, milc; akin to OFries. meloc, D. melk, G. milch, OHG. miluh, Icel. mjOlk, Sw. mjölk, Dan. melk, Goth. miluks, G. melken to milk, OHG. melchan, Lith. milszti, L. mulgere, Gr. 'ame`lgein. √107. Cf. Milch, Emulsion, Milt soft roe of fishes.]

1. (Physiol.)

A white fluid secreted by the mammary glands of female mammals for the nourishment of their young, consisting of minute globules of fat suspended in a solution of casein, albumin, milk sugar, and inorganic salts. "White as morne milk." Chaucer.

2. (Bot.)

A kind of juice or sap, usually white in color, found in certain plants; latex. See Latex.


An emulsion made by bruising seeds; as, the milk of almonds, produced by pounding almonds with sugar and water.

4. (Zoöl.)

The ripe, undischarged spat of an oyster.

Condensed milk. See under Condense, v. t. --
Milk crust (Med.), vesicular eczema occurring on the face and scalp of nursing infants. See Eczema. --
Milk fever.
(a) (Med.) A fever which accompanies or precedes the first lactation. It is usually transitory.

(b) (Vet. Surg.) A form puerperal peritonitis in cattle; also, a variety of meningitis occurring in cows after calving. --
Milk glass, glass having a milky appearance. --
Milk knot (Med.), a hard lump forming in the breast of a nursing woman, due to obstruction to the flow of milk and congestion of the mammary glands. --
Milk leg (Med.), a swollen condition of the leg, usually in puerperal women, caused by an inflammation of veins, and characterized by a white appearance occasioned by an accumulation of serum and sometimes of pus in the cellular tissue. --
Milk meats, food made from milk, as butter and cheese. [Obs.] Bailey. --
Milk mirror. Same as Escutcheon, 2. --
Milk molar (Anat.), one of the deciduous molar teeth which are shed and replaced by the premolars. --
Milk of lime (Chem.), a watery emulsion of calcium hydrate, produced by macerating quicklime in water. --
Milk parsley (Bot.), an umbelliferous plant (Peucedanum palustre) of Europe and Asia, having a milky juice. --
Milk pea (Bot.), a genus (Galactia) of leguminous and, usually, twining plants. --
Milk sickness (Med.), a peculiar malignant disease, occurring in some parts of the Western United States, and affecting certain kinds of farm stock (esp. cows), and persons who make use of the meat or dairy products of infected cattle. Its chief symptoms in man are uncontrollable vomiting, obstinate constipation, pain, and muscular tremors. Its origin in cattle has been variously ascribed to the presence of certain plants in their food, and to polluted drinking water. --
Milk snake (Zoöl.), a harmless American snake (Ophibolus triangulus, or O. eximius). It is variously marked with white, gray, and red. Called also milk adder, chicken snake, house snake, etc. --
Milk sugar. (Physiol. Chem.) See Lactose, and Sugar of milk (below). --
Milk thistle (Bot.), an esculent European thistle (Silybum marianum), having the veins of its leaves of a milky whiteness. --
Milk thrush. (Med.) See Thrush. --
Milk tooth (Anat.), one of the temporary first set of teeth in young mammals; in man there are twenty. --
Milk tree (Bot.), a tree yielding a milky juice, as the cow tree of South America (Brosimum Galactodendron), and the Euphorbia balsamifera of the Canaries, the milk of both of which is wholesome food. --
Milk vessel (Bot.), a special cell in the inner bark of a plant, or a series of cells, in which the milky juice is contained. See Latex. --
Rock milk. See Agaric mineral, under Agaric. --
Sugar of milk. The sugar characteristic of milk; a hard white crystalline slightly sweet substance obtained by evaporation of the whey of milk. It is used in pellets and powder as a vehicle for homeopathic medicines, and as an article of diet. See Lactose.


© Webster 1913

Milk (milk), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Milked (milkt); p. pr. & vb. n. Milking.]


To draw or press milk from the breasts or udder of, by the hand or mouth; to withdraw the milk of. "Milking the kine." Gay.

I have given suck, and know
How tender 't is to love the babe that milks me.


To draw from the breasts or udder; to extract, as milk; as, to milk wholesome milk from healthy cows.


To draw anything from, as if by milking; to compel to yield profit or advantage; to plunder. Tyndale.

They [the lawyers] milk an unfortunate estate as regularly as a dairyman does his stock.
London Spectator.

To milk the street, to squeeze the smaller operators in stocks and extract a profit from them, by alternately raising and depressing prices within a short range; -- said of the large dealers. [Cant] --
To milk a telegram, to use for one's own advantage the contents of a telegram belonging to another person. [Cant]


© Webster 1913

Milk, v. i.

To draw or to yield milk.


© Webster 1913

Milk (?), v. i.


To draw or to yield milk.

2. (Elec.)

To give off small gas bubbles during the final part of the charging operation; -- said of a storage battery.


© Webster 1913

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