Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by noah. noah Wonders, “How does a cow make milk?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, noah!

What’s the first thing you think about when you wake up? If you’re like many kids, breakfast is probably not far from your mind. Whether it’s in a glass or in a bowl with cereal, there’s one thing that makes breakfast great. What are we talking about? Milk, of course!

“Drink your milk!” is often heard by kids around the world. Milk provides important nutrients that growing children need. That includes plenty of calcium to help build strong bones.

Most of the milk in the United States comes from one animal: the dairy cow. But have you been to a grocery store lately? If so, you probably saw the wide variety of types of milk out there today. And not all of them come from cows!

Your local supermarket dairy section probably holds a lot of milk from cows. You may see types such as whole, two-percent, one-percent, and skim milk. These all come from cows, but they’ve been processed in different ways to alter their nutritional value. Usually, this is done by adjusting the amount of fat in the milk.

Cows aren’t the only animals that make milk. Which others do so? Goats, sheep, and buffalo, to name a few. Camels, donkeys, horses, reindeer, and yaks also make milk. These can all be used to drink or create foods such as cheeses.  

In particular, milk from goats has become more popular in recent years. It’s often used to make specialty cheeses. Don’t look for goats to surpass cows anytime soon, though. Dairy cows are still the go-to animals when it comes to milk products in the U.S. 

Why is that? Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations contribute, as do economic factors. Additionally, dairy cows are docile and easy to raise. They make the perfect animal to make milk on the scale required by the American public.

Not all people can safely drink milk from cows, though. That’s why people have developed many other types of milks made from plant sources. These are especially useful for people allergic to or intolerant of lactose. That’s a natural sugar present in the milk of cows. Non-dairy milk products include soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk, almond milk, and cashew milk. Oat milk is also growing in popularity.

These alternative milks are made by crushing beans, nuts, or other flavorful plant parts. They are then combined with water to make a milk-like liquid. Plant-based milks have fewer calories and less fat and cholesterol than milk from cows. Unfortunately, they may also lack the vitamins and other nutrients found in dairy milk.

So which milk is the best for you? That depends! People decide which milk to drink based on their allergies and nutritional needs. Many people also drink non-dairy milks by choice in order to avoid consuming animal products. 

Are you interested in trying other types of milks? If so, be sure to check their labels carefully. You could also talk with family members and health professionals about which milk to choose. They can help you make the right choices for your nutrition!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1

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