With the world’s population projected to hit 9.6 billion by 2050, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has released a report that recommends the development of “non-traditional” dairy sources to provide valuable nutrition to some of the most vulnerable communities. So what classifies as a non-traditional dairy source? According to the FAO, protein-rich milk can be sourced from llamas, alpaca, donkeys, yaks, camels, moose and reindeer.

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This is not to suggest that we’ll be picking up a quart of moose milk in the corner store anytime soon. Rather, the publication—Milk and Dairy Products in Human Nutrition—recommends that governments should invest in programs that help low-income families keep their own small dairy livestock. In doing so, the UN suggests, nations may be able circumvent risks of malnutrition within poor communities.

According to the UN, “[d]airy consumption in developing countries is expected to grow by 25 percent by 2025 as a result of population growth and rising incomes,” but the high price of cows milk is likely to remain too costly for many poor families. By utilizing non-traditional sources, vulnerable communities might be able to yield both nutritional and economic benefits.

The publication also recommends that alternative dairy sources may have some health benefits over conventional cows milk. While the notion of drinking milk from reindeer and moose might sound unusual, the animals produce milk that is not only high in fat and protein, but that has half the lactose content of cows milk—providing a possible source of nutrition for those with dietary restrictions.

The increased consumption of dairy will invariably have a damaging effect on the environment. Currently dairy production accounts for four percent of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to the strain that such farming puts on land and water resources. The publication notes that while dairy production has a lower overall methane output than meat production, changes must be made in dairy farming to reduce its environmental impact.

+ UN FAO “Milk and Dairy Products in Human Nutrition [PDF]

Via Raw Story