Lamb, Meat, Milk, Honey, and Dates

May 20, 2016

Mary had a little lamb, whom she called “Jesus” and the “Lamb of God”.

What sex was “assigned” at birth or identified with at death is not known – but Mary’s lamb begat many of his or her own. Today, there are more than 200 different breeds of sheep – and in places like New Zealand, sheep outnumber humans by a ratio of 6:1 (which is much less than in the past when it was 22:1).

Mother Mary came to her lamb, speaking words of wisdom saying, “Let it be”. And Mary and her lamb said, “let there be lite” – and there was “Lamb Lite”. And it was good. Delicious, actually. Most animals eaten by humans are male.

A castrated male sheep is called a wether – whether or not the “weather outside is frightening”. Perhaps to compensate for missing “balls” (that no longer “tingle”), wethers are often made to wear (noisy) bells (that do not jingle) – to help keep track of their whereabouts along with whoever may be with them. Female black sheep are used for the same reason.

“The Lord is my Shepherd”? The Biblical Abraham, Moses, David, and many others were also shepherds. Christians believe they are saved through (the sacrifice of) the blood of the “lamb”. Jews believe their firstborn children were saved (in Egypt from the Angel of Death) through the presence of lambs’ blood on their doors. Abraham’s (firstborn) son (Ishmael, according to Muslims – or Isaac, according to Jews) was saved from “sacrifice” through the appearance and substitution of a ram. Cats are reputed to have nine lives. “Ram” is believed by Hindus to have had at least seven (incarnations). Carnations may be flowers but “incarnation” means to become “flesh”. Animal flesh is “meat”.

Meat is animal flesh that is eaten as food. The word comes from the Old English word mete, which referred to food in general. Meat refers to skeletal muscle (and its fat), but may also describe other edible tissues, such as offal (organs).

Paleontological evidence suggests that meat constituted a substantial proportion of the diet of even the earliest humans. Early hunter-gatherers depended on the organized hunting of large animals, such as bison and deer.

Meat is usually eaten together with other food. It is edible raw, but is normally eaten after it has been cooked and seasoned or processed in a variety of ways. Unprocessed meat will spoil or rot within hours or days as a result of infection with and decomposition by bacteria and fungi – prompting humans to develop many different means of “preserving” meat and other forms of “fragile” food.

The type of meat consumed varies with culture, tradition, and the availability of animals. The kind and amount of meat consumed also varies by retail cost and individual income – both between countries and within any given country.

Humans are omnivores – originally nomadic hunters, fishers, trappers, herders, and gatherers (scavenging and eating almost anything they could find) – but NOT “meant” to subsist off of grains, legumes, potatoes, or industrially-manufactured, “genetically-modified” factory-farmed, “fast”, or “fake” food.

While a plant-BASED diet does have (health) benefits, as watching ANY episode of popular television shows like “Naked and Afraid”, “Survivorman”, or “Man vs. Wild” will show, human survival, in “the wild(ernes)”, even for relatively short periods of time, WITHOUT an ample supply of previously “preserved” and “stored” food OR (killing and) consuming ANIMALS (or something they produce) – especially during extended periods of snow or any of many other conditions in which edible plants do not grow – is NOT pleasant, probable, or likely possible.

Gathering and/or growing food are not always options for “living off the land”.
Surviving in the wild often requires eating some kind of animal meat (and fat).

Meat comprises water, protein, fat, and various amounts of minerals and vitamins. The protein is located in the muscle tissue, and constitutes from 15% to 20% of the mass of meat. The percentage of fat varies with type of animal and body part. There are no carbohydrates in meat! 80% of human body composition is the result of diet – for both putting on mass as well as losing fat.

Human health requires sufficient gravity, oxygen, sun exposure, environmental protection, hydration, sleep, physical activity, metal stimulation, and nutrition – including electrolytes, essential amino acids (protein), and essential fatty acids (lipids). There are no essential carbohydrates nor need to consume them in more than limited quantity. Carbohydrates increase insulin which increases body fat – and many disease conditions. Healthy fat consumption, even in large quantity, does NOT lead to an increase in body fat; eating excessive carbs does. And “burning” fat (calories) provides more “energy” than carbohydrates. The body requires and makes its own cholesterol regardless of what is eaten.

Sheep were among the first animals ever to be domesticated by humans, most likely in what is now Turkey, prior to the establishment of settled agriculture (more than 10,000 years ago). Kurds live in Turkey (as well as in Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Armenia) – but turkeys do not. If turkeys did live in the Middle East, they, too, would have been hunted, trapped, and eventually domesticated.

Animals were initially kept for meat. Dairying, and the exploitation of domestic animals for eggs, wool/hair, and labor, began much later. Cattle were domesticated in Mesopotamia long after settled agriculture was established.

Sheep were introduced and became popular throughout many regions of the world not only as a source of (meat and milk for) food but also (wool) textiles.

Milk is the primary source of nutrition for infant mammals, including humans, before they are able to digest other types of food. Milk can be synthesized in a laboratory, from water, fatty acids and proteins – but (one’s OWN mother’s raw unpasteurized non-homogenized fresh milk directly from HER) breast is “best”.

India is the world’s largest producer and consumer of milk (mainly from cattle and buffalo). The females of all mammal species can produce milk, but cow’s milk dominates commercial production and human consumption. Humans also consume the milk of sheep, goats, yaks, horses, donkeys, reindeer and camels.

Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey – but probably NOT the way that Kurds and Turkmen did during the Ottoman Empire. A tuffet is an ottoman or low footstool. Whey is the high-protein “liquid” byproduct (probably most popular today in powder form) left over from milk “solids” curdling/coagulating/congealing (and is not at all “bloodcurdling”). The size of curds in “cottage” cheese varies; as also does the number of Kurds per country.

The ability to digest milk was initially limited to children, as adults did not produce lactase, an enzyme necessary for digesting the lactose in milk. Milk was therefore converted to curd, cheese and other products to reduce the levels of lactose. Thousands of years ago, a chance mutation spread in human populations in Europe that enabled the production of lactase in adulthood. This allowed milk to be used as a new source of nutrition which could sustain populations when other food sources failed. In many cultures of the world, especially the West, humans continue to consume milk beyond infancy, using the milk of animals (especially from cattle, goats and sheep) as a food product.

Milk is processed into a variety of dairy products such as cream, butter, yogurt, kefir, ice cream, and cheese. Modern industrial processes use milk to produce casein, whey protein, lactose, condensed milk, powdered milk, and many other food-additives and industrial products.

During the Middle Ages, milk was sometimes called the “virtuous white liquor” because alcoholic beverages and milk were more safe to consume than water.

Modern Armenians are not “Arameans” – but the (wandering) Biblical patriarch Abraham (probably) was. After he and his family “crossed over” the Euphrates, “He brew” (not coffee – originating from Ethiopia, as may have Moses’ second wife, but) something alcoholic. Mormons and Muslims are forbidden by their religions from drinking alcohol, but Jewish religious observance “requires” it.

Honey is the main ingredient in the alcoholic beverage mead, also known as “honey wine” or “honey beer”. Historically, the ferment for mead was honey’s naturally occurring yeast.

Humans have been eating honey (produced by bees from flower nectar they collect) for at least 8,000 years – and there is almost no part in the world where honey is not widely used and celebrated as a part of the cultural diet.

In Hinduism, honey (Madhu) is one of the five elixirs of immortality (Panchamrita). In temples, honey is poured over the deities in a ritual called Madhu abhisheka. The Vedas and other ancient literature mention the use of honey as a great medicinal and health food.

Milk and honey are often served together in many places – with both ingredients believed to help in creating smooth, beautiful skin.

The Hebrew Biblical “book” of Exodus (in Chapters 3 and 33) refers to “the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites” as “a land flowing with milk and honey”. However, many Biblical commentators write that the original Hebrew in the Bible (devash) refers to the sweet syrup produced from the juice of dates.

© 2016, Oren Pardes. All rights reserved.

Oren Pardes

Oren Pardes has written 48 post in this blog.

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