Friday, April 18, 2008

Today's Column--Is Camel Milk the Next Big Thing?

By Lara Bricker
April 18, 2008 6:00 AM
So I never know where a column idea is going to come from. Some weeks I have nothing to write about and others there's something that I just can't help but not write about.
Camel milk is something I must write about.
So there I was on the way to the Erma Bombeck Humor Writing Conference last week in Ohio. I had hopped a taxi from the airport and was chatting with the little foreign cab driver. Eventually the conversation turned to what I wrote about. Well, I told him, I just had a book published called "How Do You Milk a Moose Anyway?"
He was not impressed. Not by the book, but the milk source.
Camel milk is the best milk, he told me, forget about the moose milk.
I thought he was kidding. But no apparently not. You can't make this stuff up. For the next 20 minutes, I heard about the virtues of camel milk. Sorry moose milkers, but you've got nothing on the camel milk.
You see it's like a magic elixir, he told me. It will cure anything. It can regrow your hair. It can even make you smarter. It's a wonder more people aren't drinking camel milk. I mean, a shot of camel milk every day is like the Fountain of Youth and it gives all of those out of work lady camels in the world an honest way to make a living.
When men are out in the desert for weeks on end with their camels, they drink the milk. It is apparently thick and strong, so much so that you can survive on camel milk alone, he told me. The milk is highly nutritious, low in fat and lactose and has high levels of potassium, iron and Vitamin C. Who needs Ovaltine's Instant Breakfast pack of vitamins when you've got camel milk?
But wait, there's more. A mixture of camel milk and camel urine can be used to treat cirrhosis of the liver. My cabbie told me of a drunk man who drank the vile sounding mixture for 30 days and was miraculously cured. He could return to drinking something a bit more appetizing than camel milk.
But the news about camel milk wasn't all happy. You see, my cabbie couldn't get his hands on any of the delicious and miraculous milk. And it wasn't for a lack of trying. He'd been looking everywhere. The ban on liquids on airlines had put a halt to importing camel milk to the mighty state of Ohio. Like I said, you can't make this stuff up. Apparently there was a large Somalian population in central Ohio that craved the camel milk and imported it. Those looking for their camel milk fix like my cabbie could pay $150 for a gallon of milk. With the liquid ban in effect, he was desperate. He found a camel dairy farm in California. Their problem? The milk was being used to make soap, instead of for drinking.
I still wasn't buying this. So of course, I looked it up on the Internet. The results were endless. I found that some people in India are on a big campaign on YouTube to spread the word of camel milk. They believe it could cure cancer and AIDS. Meanwhile, people in Ethiopia are touting camel milk as an aphrodisiac. Some guy in Australia is thinking about producing a line of camel milk chocolates. Another woman is developing a cosmetic line with camel milk.
And yes, there is a camel farm in California called the Oasis Camel Dairy. I guess everything does start in California. Like my cabbie told me, you can't get milk but you can get the next best thing, camel milk soap. Umm, yummy. According to the farm, camel soap is the ultimate in luxurious bath experience and an "ancient" beauty secret once used by Cleopatra. The soap is a natural source of alpha-hydroxy acids, which help "plump" the skin. I wonder if that's like a natural form of collagen implants? Alas, the dairy has put a hold on orders of camel milk soap this week.
Darn, just when I found the perfect Mother's Day gift.

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