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U.S. firm sells camel milk as healthy but pricey drink

A Santa Monica-based company recently sold its 100,000th dollar of camel milk claiming its nutritional and health benefits

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With a plastic white cap and powder blue label, the Desert Farms milk bottle matches the idyllic image of the doorstep milk bottle. But a closer look reveals something a bit different: “Make every day a humpday.”

It is the lighthearted slogan of America’s first retail camel’s milk company. Supplied by seven small camel farms, most of them owned by Amish, the Santa Monica-based company recently sold its 100,000th dollar of camel milk as it spreads its claims of nutritional and health benefits, a report in Los Angeles Times said recently.

“What we know about the camel milk is that, in terms of health, it outperforms every other dairy beverage,” said Walid Abdul-Wahab, 23, who came up with the idea behind Desert Farms for a USC class project.

With no appreciable difference in taste from cow’s milk, camel’s milk has 50% less fat and about 40 fewer calories per cup. It also has about the same amounts of other nutrients. Desert Farms sells milk raw or pasteurized, with the pasteurized version in most stores.

But it doesn’t come cheap. A pint costs $16 to $19 online.

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Abdul-Wahab’s project was inspired by a visit home to Saudi Arabia, where families consider camel’s milk a delicacy and drink it for celebrations as well as when they’re sick. After investing his own funds to launch in January, he now supplies camel’s milk to Lassens in Los Feliz and to Whole Foods stores in Northern California, in addition to selling it online.

“Camel milk has been used for centuries in the Middle East by nomads and Bedouins, and they swore by it,” he said. “That’s why people have faith in it — it’s a historical product.”

Abdul-Wahab said he wondered why it was not more widely available. But while researching his class project, he learned that some farms in the West and Midwest, mostly owned by Amish, milked camels. He approached them, and soon seven small farms began supplying milk for Desert Farms.

“The interaction was wonderful … something that we’re so proud of, and what we say on our bottles is that our milk not only helps customers but is also benefiting small American families sustained on camel milk sales,” Abdul-Wahab said.

Camels, Troyer said, refuse to be milked except by a couple of people they grow accustomed to, and their babies need to be nearby. In addition, according to Abdul-Wahab, cows outnumber camels by about 18,000 to 1 in the United States, making cow’s milk less pricey.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on July 5, 2014.