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In food use, the term milk is defined under Codex Alimentarius standards as: "the normal mammary secretion of milking animals obtained from one or more milkings without either addition to it or extraction from it, intended for consumption as liquid milk or for further processing." This definition thereby precludes non-animal products which may resemble milk in color and texture (milk substitutes) such as soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, and coconut milk. In addition, a substance secreted by pigeons to feed their young is called "crop milk" and bears some resemblance to mammalian milk, although it is not consumed as a milk substitute.
Initially animals were kept for meat, and archaeologist Andrew Sherratt has suggested that dairying, along with the exploitation of domestic animals for hair and labor, began much later in a separate secondary products revolution in the fourth millennium BC.Modern industrial processes use milk to produce casein, whey protein, lactose, condensed milk, powdered milk, and many other food-additives and industrial products.Whole milk, butter and cream have high levels of saturated fat.The proportion of rural imports by rail as a percentage of total milk consumption in London grew from under 5% in the 1860s to over 96% by the early 20th century.By that point, the supply system for milk was the most highly organized and integrated of any food product.