The rate of lactose intolerance varies from community to community. Each project group sets its own goals and asks for the kind of animal that is best suited to help, so the decision to raise dairy animals is not made by our staff. We have found milk to be extremely popular in many of the areas where we work, and the market for selling milk is readily available to most small-scale farmers.
Some of the reasons why lactose intolerant cultures value milk may be:
- The risk of childhood malnutrition is highest immediately after weaning from breast milk and is improved by the addition of cow or goat's milk to the diet before the age at which lactose intolerance generally begins.
- The small quantities that are preferred by adults in tea and other dishes are tolerable. Less than 8 ounces of milk at one time does not generally lead to problems among the lactose intolerant.
- The milk is often made into cheese or soured in some way before adults consume it- minimizing digestive problems.
- The people we serve who have some lactose intolerance, ultimately, decide that the benefits outweigh the costs (gas or mild diarrhea).