Saudi entrepreneur and Amish farmers bring camel milk to US

CNN  — 

When Walid Abdul-Wahab met the Amish and Mennonite farmers he now works with, they didn’t suspect he was a Muslim from Saudi Arabia. “They assumed I was Amish because of my beard,” he says.

Abdul-Wahab encountered the farmers while on a hunt for camels. Having found them on Amish and Mennonite farms in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Colorado and Missouri, he set up Desert Farms, which sells camel products through its website and via health food shops and supermarkets.

Camel milk has been drunk in the Middle East for thousands of years, but will it catch on in the US?

Cow milk is one of the top eight food allergens in the United States. Allergic reaction to milk proteins can cause digestive pain, rashes and trouble breathing.

Furthermore, an estimated 36% of Americans over the age of ten are lactose intolerant and unable to break down the sugar in milk. Symptoms are typically less severe, but still unpleasant.

As a result, the market is awash in dairy alternatives including almond, oat, coconut, rice and soy milks. But none of these options is an ideal substitute, says Abdul-Wahab, because they are either nutritionally suboptimal or less tasty than cow’s milk, in his opinion.

Lactose-free milk options have boomed in recent years.

Camel milk is a mild drink that’s slightly sweeter and saltier than cow milk, he says. Abdul-Wahab believes it could “end the search for a milk alternative.”