Quantcast

Will Camel's Milk Be the Next Big Craze?

Food

Camel milk has been in use for centuries in Middle Eastern, Asian and North African cultures. Recently, some vanguard American farmers have been bringing that tradition to the U.S. And it might be the perfect time to do so because camels, being desert dwellers, are extremely water efficient.

"This is truly one of nature's superfoods," says Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods. Photo credit: Desert Farms

One camel farm, Oasis Camel Dairy, in Ramona, California has been getting a lot of attention lately. Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel visited the farm last month, as did Dagmar Midcap of NBC's San Diego news station. Gil and Nancy Riegler, owners of the camel dairy, have bred and raised camels for 15 years, making it the oldest camel farm in the country.

"Did you know that camel milk is highly nutritious and has 10 times more iron and three times more vitamin C than cow's milk?" Dagmar Midcap asks viewers. "Camel milk is also being used in treating diabetes, autism and Crohn's disease," says Midcap.

Besides producing milk, which Gil Riegler says "is the closest milk to human mother's milk," the couple also makes specialty products including cosmetics, soaps, lotions, lip balms and chocolate.

"It's low-fat milk, it's homogenized naturally, it tastes really good like cow's milk, it has triple the amount of vitamin C than other milks, it's high in protein and there are no allergies to it," says Gil Riegler. It's a good alternative to cow's milk for those who are lactose-intolerant because it's lactose-free.

"It has anti-inflammatory properties that can heal up creaky joints and clear up skin," says Zimmern. "This is truly one of nature's superfoods."

There's just one problem: it's illegal for the couple to sell the milk. "Until the government lifts its restriction on small-batch hand-milked products," the couple can give people the milk to drink and people can drink the milk, but it's illegal for it to be bought and sold, says Zimmern.

Until the law is changed, the Rieglers will only sell the specialty products that are made from the camel's milk. They also offer camel rides, rent out their camels for events and sell camels. At the end of his visit, Zimmern drinks a glass of fresh camel milk. His verdict: "That's really good ... It's really refreshing ... You want another sip."

Though the Rieglers can't sell their camel milk, others can. "Regulation on camel milk varies widely" according to Modern Farmer.

For example, Desert Farms sells its milk to select Whole Foods in California and online. The California-based company buys milk from Amish farmers in the Midwest. The camels are raised on pasture with supplemental hay, grass and alfalfa pellets in the winter that is GMO-free, and they are never given any added hormones. Desert Farms sells the milk raw and pasteurized, fresh and frozen, and also as a kefir.

The milk is much more expensive than cow's milk at $18 a pint at Whole Foods. Camels don't produce a lot of milk and it's not easy to breed them. At the Camelot Camel Dairy in Colorado, Kyle and Holly Hendrix built a Grade A processing and pasteurization facility on-site. That will help make the milk more widely available. Camel Milk USA, a company founded by Dr. Millie Hinkle, is doing more research and development to create a camel milk industry in the U.S. As camels become more widely available and more farmers raise them, the cost would go down.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

6 Mobile Apps for Sustainable and Ethical Food Shopping

Chef Tom Colicchio to Host New MSNBC Show on Food Policy Reform

Can the Planet Sustain 7 Billion People Eating a Paleo Diet?

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Protests led by Native Hawaiians have blocked the construction of a telescope at the summit of Mauna Kea on Big Island. Actions for Mauna Kea / Facebook

By Jessica Corbett

A week after construction was scheduled to resume on a long-delayed $1.4 billion telescope at the summit of Mauna Kea — a dormant volcano on Hawaii's Big Island — thousands of Native Hawaiians who consider the mountain sacred continued to protest the planned observatory.

Read More Show Less
California Condor at soaring at the Grand Canyon. Pavliha / iStock / Getty Images

North America's largest bird passed an important milestone this spring when the 1,000th California condor chick hatched since recovery efforts began, NPR reported Sunday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
The Roloway monkey has been pushed closer to extinction. Sonja Wolters / WAPCA / IUCN

The statistics around threatened species are looking grim. A new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has added more than 9,000 new additions to its Red List of threatened species, pushing the total number of species on the list to more than 105,000 for the first time, according to the Guardian.

Read More Show Less
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / Getty Images

The campaign to re-elect President Donald Trump has found a new way to troll liberals and sea turtles.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Night long exposure photograph of wildifires in Santa Clarita, California. FrozenShutter / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristy Dahl

Last week, UCS released Killer Heat, a report analyzing how the frequency of days with a dangerously hot heat index — the combination of temperature and humidity the National Weather Service calls the "feels like" temperature — will change in response to the global emissions choices we make in the coming decades.

Read More Show Less
A Zara store in Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. Timahaowemi / CC BY-SA 3.0

Green is the new black at Zara.

The Spanish fast fashion behemoth has made a bold move to steer its industry to a more environmentally friendly future for textiles. Inditex, Zara's parent company, announced that all the polyester, cotton and linen it uses will be sustainably produced by 2025, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

Whether you enjoy running recreationally, competitively, or as part of your overall wellness goals, it's a great way to improve your heart health.

Read More Show Less