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What makes food an interesting commodity to study from an anthropological perspective? What makes milk an especially interesting food to study? What is “special” about this food? How can a holistic approach provide insight into this food, which once consumed, becomes part of our bodies? How can the study of this one food provide us insights into both our biology and culture? © 2011 Taylor and Francis
A nutrient-rich food Vitamin D added Vitamin A added to fat-reduced milks No mention of lactose A “nutritionist” view © 2011 Taylor and Francis (Source:
The only mammalian food produced in order to be consumed Its function is to support the growth and development of nursing infants of a given species Humans consume milk from other species, and well past the traditional age of weaning. © 2011 Taylor and Francis
Uses evolutionary theory – asks the question “Is this phenomenon adaptive?” An adaptive trait (biological or behavioral) is one that enhances reproductive success How does our cultural environment affect our biological traits? How do our biological traits affect our cultural environment? © 2011 Taylor and Francis
The interpretation of other people’s bodies as well as behavior only in relation to those of one’s own body and culture, generally with the view that one’s own is “better” than the other, or that one’s own is “normal” and others are somehow “abnormal.” © 2011 Taylor and Francis
Milk composition for each mammalian species reflects their life history needs Do infants grow slowly to a large size? Do they grow quickly to a small size? Do they nurse frequently or infrequently? Do they live in a cold climate and need calorically-dense milk? © 2011 Taylor and Francis
Human infant nursing (Source: Ken Hammond, United States Department of Agriculture.). Calves of Bos taurus nursing (Source: Wikinoby, org/wiki/File:Cow_and_calf.jpg). © 2011 Taylor and Francis Manatee calf nursing (Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Public Affairs). Mouse mother nursing her pups (Source: The New Student’s Reference Work (1914)).
Explanations for population variation in adult milk digestion depend on evolutionary histories with dairying and milk usage. So, it is essential to.
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