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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/70

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70
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

THE PROBLEM OF CITY MILK SUPPLIES
By P. G. HEINEMANN, Ph.D.

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

MILK and various dairy products have been used by the human race for ages. There is evidence to show that at least 50,000 years have elapsed, probably a much longer period, since man began to use cow's milk for his own purposes. Savages who have no historical records consume milk—sweet, sour and fermented—to a large extent and have made use of the preservative properties of sour milk for keeping meat from putrefaction. The scriptures mention the fact that milk, sour milk and butter were common articles of food among the Hebrews. The ancient Greeks and Romans used milk and cheese and among the ancestors of the Anglo-Saxon, German and Scandinavian tribes the dairy herd was an important asset.

Perhaps the antiquity of the dairy industry is responsible for the extreme conservatism practised. The methods of taking and handling the raw material—milk—remain primitive to this day. Although forming one of the most important and universal articles of food, of special value in the feeding of infants, little progress has been made in that part of the production of dairy products, which is the controlling one from the public health standpoint, namely, the process of gathering the milk and its treatment before it reaches the consumer, the dairy or the creamery.

The sciences of hygiene and bacteriology are of relatively recent origin and with them came the knowledge that wholesomeness of food as well as sanitary environment is for the most part a matter of cleanliness. Now, few things are farther from cleanliness than the ordinary manner of milk production. Even if we admit that "pigs is pigs," milk is not always the same, and milks from different sources may vary enormously. Who has not seen a barn, where cows, horses and pigs are stalled under the same roof? Filth, cobwebs, dust, manure are allowed to accumulate and at long intervals are shoveled to a place, which is not far from the barn, where they dry out and are blown in the form of dust into the barns. Ventilation in the barn is absent, screens to keep out the disease-carrying flies are rare, light is admitted by small windows and the cows are permitted to rest in their own filth, which covers the hide, dries and is brushed or shaken into the milk when this is drawn from the udder. The modern cow is covered with filth and the owners ridicule the suggestion that cows deserve more care than