These days you can order your coffee with anything from cow's milk to almond milk, but even in an experimental town like San Francisco, a camel's milk latte has yet to sound like anything but a joke. Southern California-based company Desert Farms is looking to change that. With its tongue-in-cheek slogan, "make every day a hump day," and its packaging emphasizing the health benefits of its product, the company is trying to turn camel's milk into the next big thing in dairy.
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Camel's milk isn't anything new to the Bedouins of the Middle East and Northern Africa, of course, who have been drinking the stuff forever -- visitors to Dubai can even try camel milk chocolate and ice cream. But it has yet to catch on with American audiences, despite the fact that it has three times as much Vitamin C and half the fat of cows' milk, thanks to the hardscrabble conditions where camels, desert animals, are usually found.
When the sample arrived at SF Weekly offices, we eyed it warily before taking a sip. The final product was more tart and salty than your average cow's milk -- reminiscent of liquid yogurt -- though it had a sweetness to it, too, and none of the muskiness of goat's milk. Once we got over our initial trepidation, the rich camel milk seemed like an ideal pairing for cereal or a chocolate chip cookie. After all, the milk from one mammal's udder isn't categorically different from another's, and it wasn't so long ago that goat cheese was considered an exotic ingredient in this country.
Desert Farms sources its milk from small farms across the country, many of them Amish, that raise camels on a diet of GMO-free grass and don't add extra hormones or homogenize the milk they collect. The company's milk also comes at a premium because of it: An 16-ounce bottle costs $18. For the milk to truly catch on as an alternative, they're gonna have to figure out how to scale up those camel-milking operations.