Those verses belong to the poem “The donkey” which was written by Dinos Christianopoulos and melodized by Manos Chatzidakis. George Zambetas has also written songs about those lovely animals (“To gaidouraki mou” and “Tou kir Spirou to gaidouri”) and there are many fables written by Aesop and folk tales where donkeys are staring.
You might wonder why all of a sudden I am refering to that characteristic animal of the Greek countryside which draws no attention or admiration at all although it has been a valuable assistant to many human activities for many centuries. On the contrary, we are borrowing the name of that humble creature in order to describe our fellowmen who show grotesque and disrespectful social behaviour.
Would you change your opinion if you knew that the milk produced by donkeys is starting to claim a place among the most nutritious natural foods and its price can reach the amount of 40€ per litre?
I am sure you have read or heard before that Cleopatra and other privileged ladies of ancient times were taking their bath in donkey’s milk in order to keep their skin fresh and shiny. Women often become victims of marketing, especialy when products concern our looks. However the preferance of Cleopatra for donkey ‘s milk is supported by the opinion of two wise men of antiquity. Hippocrates as well as Pliny the Elder believed that donkey’s milk could act therapeutically in numerous cases, such as liver problems, infectious diseases, fevers, oedema, poisonings, wounds, weekened teeth and bones, ulcer, asthma, gynecological problems, fatigue etc.
Nowadays research concerning the characteristics of donkey milk and the benefits resulting from its use is increasing. There are very strong indications that donkey’s milk “may be very useful in the prevention of atherosclerosis, being a strong vasodilator and an effective antimicrobial agent”, “is a valid alternative to cow’s milk proteins allergy, including in terms of palatability and weight-height gain” and “it has antimicrobial activity and plays a significant role in the host defense system”.
The following table is showing values of important milk components from various animals. It is easily derived that donkey’s milk is very similar to that of humans and its high concentration of lactose has a positive effect on the intestinal absorption of calcium and can help treat adult osteoporosis and favour the mineralisation of childrens’ bones.
If after reading that post you are willing to procure donkey’s milk you may find it somehow difficult. Unfortunately throughout Europe and especially in Greece there is no sufficient legislation covering the production and trade of that product. Therefore donkey’s milk is usually not sold in food stores. In fact Italy has submitted a relative written question to the European Committee and you can read the answer here.
In the responsive document of the EC it is mentioned that “there might not be a history of significant human consumption of donkey’s milk as a food. Therefore, asses’ milk might require a safety assessment under the Novel Food Regulation, before it may be placed on the market in the EU as food”. The regulations of EC are mainly relative to the health requirements any milk for human consumtion should comply with. According to a study carried out by a University in Italy “donkey’s milk could be a safe food, if the mammary gland is healthy and the animals are milked in proper hygienic conditions”. Therefore I believe it is only a matter of time before donkeys’ milk will be sold in food stores.
As far as skin treatment products are concerned there are no restrictions and you can find a plethora in various online shops.
I have also read about two donkey farms in Greece, belonging to Mr. Nikos Mpoukouvalas in Edessa and Mr. Panagiotis Papapostolou in Karditsa. Unfortunately I was not able to trace relative internet sites. If you have any information or know their contact details please let me know!
I am ending this post by sharing with you the information that if you wish you could even adopt a donkey! The seat of “Donkey Sanctuary” is in Britain but its activities are spread throuhgout many countries, even Greece since 2005. Its aim is to protect and ensure better life conditions for these lovely and extremely useful animals.
It is widely believed that donkey farms will be very profitable bussiness in the near future, mainly because their products are used by the cosmetic industry. You will find useful advise about those kind animals in the books “The Complete Book of the Donkey” and “The Donkey Companion: Selecting, Training, Breeding, Enjoying & Caring for Donkeys.” Both books are valuable, analyzing in their pages what you should consider when choosing donkeys, how you should take care of them, methods for training them, which illnesses are threatening them and many many more topics you will find extemely interesting if you are thinking of starting a donkey farm.
Teach your children to love misunderstood donkeys by giving them as a gift a charming plush donkey, or making for them chocolate (preferably with donkey milk!) in specially donkey shaped molds.