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  • Samantha Hamilton

Mixed-Milk Cheeses: A Future Return To A More Nutritious Past


With the competitive economic requirements of modern food production, farmers tend to focus on one species when operating on a larger scale. The modernised industrial nature of the dairy industry, in particular, makes the efficiency of compartmentalisation into the most cost-effective products and productive methods an obvious choice. However, dairy products optimal for economic success are not necessarily optimal for human health, even beyond the obvious limitations in the quality of cow’s milk produced on mass scales compared to those produced with more attention to minor variations in animals to ensure the best health.

 

A recent archaeological study of stone age ceramics found in Poland suggests that our ancestors primarily operated with mixed herds and that the dairy products may have been combined. Protein analysis of the remains of ceramic vessels found at neolithic habitation sites revealed residues associated with not just the storage of milk but also the production of cheese. This itself is of great interest to archaeologists and anthropologists as during the Neolithic, Europeans were still mostly lactose intolerant, the lifelong production of lactase only becoming widespread throughout Europe in the early bronze age. Of greater interest to the production of modern dairy products, however, is the discovery of bones from multiple livestock species at the site, particularly species historically kept by humans for their milk, such as cows, sheep, and goats. This indicates that the cheeses produced by these ancient Europeans were derived from multiple dairy sources.

 

These multiple-source cheeses were likely more balanced in terms of nutrition than single-animal-derived cheeses due to the difference in composition in milk from different species. For example, goat milk contains a higher proportion of calcium and vitamins A and B6 than cow’s milk but does not contain vitamin B12, which cow’s milk does. All of these are vital for human health, and so a combination of the best sources of all nutrients will likely result in a more nutritious food product with more distinct flavours and textures. There is also evidence that the co-grazing of cattle with goats improves land health.

 

Such mixed cheeses are already produced in the modern world. Still, the adaptation of existing herds and the adaptation of modern techniques used to produce them in the UK, along with specific techniques and combinations to achieve the most optimally nutritious varieties, will constitute R&D. At Minerva Innovation Group, we work to provide tax credit relief to dairy producers already and hope that their drive to improve their field will go forward with the development of products such as these, drawing on evidence from the past to shape the future norms of our dairy production.

 

Many farmers may not be aware that they qualify for R&D tax credits, and any potential for innovation is worth exploring.

 

If you, or anyone you know, want to discuss our R&D tax and/or R&D grants services in more detail, please contact us via info@minervainnovation.co.uk or 0141 378 4969!  

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