Diverse Portrait

Even the pope approves of taking a bath in donkey-milk

Ever heard of Cleopatra bathing in donkey-milk? Probably yes. With this start-ups idea you can now feel like the pharaoh herself and at the same time make the pope proud. And your mom as well.

Imagine the players of the Italian football club Inter Milan drinking a glass of donkey milk before every game. If you think that this might be the beginning of a bad joke, I am sorry to disappoint you. Thanks to a partnership with the Swiss start-up Eurolactis, the whole team received donkey milk throughout 2012. And you’re welcome for that piece of pointless knowledge.

Drinking donkey milk is not a modern hipster-idea

In 2007, the company started to produce and export their milk and the powder made out of it all around the globe. The idea of drinking donkey milk and to process it for use in cosmetic products is not some modern hair-brained idea from the bowels of a hipster café in Brooklyn – it goes back centuries. In the antiquity, donkey milk was known as “white gold.”And who doesn’t know the story of Cleopatra bathing in donkey milk? She wasn’t the only one who used the milk as a beauty bath. Napoleon’s sister Pauline is also said to have tapped into the power of the magic milk.

But how does it taste?

Pierluigi Orunesu’s business idea is not that far-fetched after all. He himself describes the milk as «very different from cow’s milk,» because the milk has a bright colour resulting from the low fat content. It tastes sweeter than the milk we are used to, thanks to the high lactose content. Donkey’s milk is 95% the same as human milk, and is therefore a good substitute for nourishing babies. Especially considering the possible pollutants in industrial baby-milk powder, donkey milk is a safe alternative for mothers who do not breastfeed.

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Credits: Eurolactis

Eurolactis gathers the milk on a 900-animal farm in Italy. The company began with only 280 donkeys. Today, the farm is the first large-scale European production facility for donkey milk. The enterprise also started the jurisdictional process having to do with the legislation of donkey milk, so that the product is accepted as food.

Only making your cornflakes wet would be decadent

If I only want to use the milk to bath my cornflakes in the morning, it will cost me a pretty penny. Although donkey milk proves to be very healthy, it is and will remain a niche product. In contrast to cows that provide up to 40 litres of milk on a daily basis, donkeys only give 2 litres of their milk per day, making the exorbitant price of 32 euros per litre of donkeys milk a bit more understandable. Founder Pierluigi Orunesu explains that donkey milk won’t be the next big commodity, as it is very precious.

Say goodbye to your pimples and wrinkles! 

In addition to using it as food, Donkey milk is a very good skin-moisturizer and therefore, an interesting ingredient in cosmetics. Probably Cleopatra was right – the mineral substances, amino- and fatty-acids, omega 3 to 6, as well as numerous proteins, support the claims of the milk as a fountain of youth. In particular, allergy sufferers and pimply teenagers who use the milk could potentially say goodbye to chemical aids, because the milk is hypoallergenic. That means it is suited for all skin types, however sensitive they may be.

Pure Braveness: Inventing a donkey-chocolate

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The chocolate-bar only weighs 25g instead of the usual 100g (Credits: Remo Bernet)

Eurolactis products are sold in fine food stores in Switzerland and on their website. Additionally, a large amount of the milk is sold to cosmetic companies. Among their other «firsts,» Eurolactis is the first Swiss company to dare to produce a chocolate out of donkey milk. Luckily we live in the 21st century – 20 years ago, one would have been crucified for changing something in the principles of Swiss chocolate production.

Mentioning the pope in the headline wasn’t just to catch your eye 

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Told you. Thats Pierluigi holding the two donkeys as a present for Pope Francis (Credit: L’Osservatore Romano)

The enterprise is so successful that they are planning to increase production and gather their milk on farms outside of Italy. Even the pope has had the pleasure of sampling Eurolactis’ milk, because founder Pierluigi had an audience with his holiness in 2014 and brought two donkeys as a present. Other people bring flowers or Pralinés – Pierluigi brings donkeys. At their meeting, the pope told Pierluigi that he himself had also drunk donkey milk as a child in Argentina. This statement surged through the international yellow press and ended up being the best kind of marketing for the start-up.

So the pope himself would probably have nothing against you having a bath in donkey milk – even if it is only a foot bath. One should not waste such a precious and expensive thing.

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