Of Milk and Honey – The Holy Land's Dairy Products
One of the notable customs of the Shavuot holiday is celebrating in dairy meals. There is some dispute as to the origins of this custom, but there's a common agreement that it is a relatively new addition which probably began among the Jews of Europe during the 14th century. Long before that, however, the Holy Land has been described in the Bible as the "Land of Milk and Honey".
Modern Israel prides itself in its rich selection of dairy products that often find their way to the country's cooking:
Even before Israel's declaration of independence, dairy barns were common among the different Kibbutz villages, and even today most of the country's milk production (around 60%) originates in Kibbutz villages and other and other collective communities.
Since its declaration of independence, Israel has recognized the importance of the dairy market for the long-term health of its citizens, and provides it with generous support. The average annual milk production of a cow in Israel is among the world's highest, 11,000 liters per year. Israel's milk production techniques are also exported to other countries with great success, as can be seen in this video:
Alongside the large companies, smaller dairies operate all over Israel, producing boutique cheeses of the highest quality that have won prestigious award in international competitions. These dairies make a great destination for a cross-country trip in Israel, especially in Shavuot when many of them hold "Wine and Cheese" tasting events. Bringing a boutique cheese from the Holy Land back with you can be a unique and very tasty gift for your loved ones!
See also this book for recipes:
For mroe information, see the Israel Dairy Board