Here are answers to frequently asked questions I receive along with links to related posts;
How do I know the milk I’m buying comes from a “family farm”?
Almost every dairy farm in the U.S. is owned and operated by a family, so when you buy dairy you can be assured it came from a family farm. You can feel good knowing that you are supporting not only the family who owns the farm but also the people who work on that farm and all the businesses the dairy buys products and services from. Buying dairy equals supporting farm families and rural communities.
|Me with one of our cows|
I want to support farms that “treat cows well and use humane practices”, what product label should I look for to ensure this is happening?
Most dairy farmers choose this profession because they love working with cows. The majority of cows in this country are pampered, fed a well-balanced diet, and have a clean and comfortable living environment. Cows generally lead a relaxed lifestyle spending most of their time resting, eating and socializing. See, A Day in the Life of a Cow.
Do your cows eat grass or grain?
Both. Like most cows in this country, our cows consume a variety of feed ingredients in a recipe prepared by a dairy cattle nutritionist. This yummy cow casserole currently includes corn silage, hay, rye grass, ground corn, soybean meal, distiller’s grain, gluten pellets and a vitamin/mineral mix. For more details, check out Dairy Diet – What do Cows Eat?
Is this milk local and fresh?
Milk goes from cow to store in about 2 days, so it most likely comes from farms near you. You can find out exactly where your dairy products were produced using the website Where is my Milk From. Simply go to the website and enter the dairy code on the product container to find out the state and plant that produced the product. For more, check out WhereCan I Buy Milk from Your Cows?
If a dairy product label doesn’t say “antibiotic-free” or “no added hormones” how do I know it’s safe for me and my family?
All milk is tested for antibiotic residue and dumped if it contains trace amounts of antibiotics. No milk sold in the U.S. contains antibiotics. All milk naturally contains small amounts of hormones. There are natural hormones in animal and plant food products. See, Testing Milk forAntibiotics and Somatic Cell Count and Are there Hormones in my Milk?
How do I know I’m purchasing dairy products from farms that use sustainable environmental practices?
Dairy farmers have been recycling and caring for the environment for generations. Improvements and efficiencies have enabled the dairy industry to decrease their carbon footprint by 63% over the last 60 years. Today it takes less land, water, feed and resources to produce a gallon of milk.
To learn more, read Cows & Farmers are MarvelousRecyclers.
Not long ago, these questions were rarely asked. So why are people thinking about these issues today? I believe much of this can be attributed to marketing and package labeling. In an attempt to differentiate products, and charge a premium price, food processing companies have created confusion among consumers. Along the way, all this “marketing” has not helped the overall image of dairy farmers and dairy products. Pitting one feeding method or management practice against the other is not a good way to promote dairy. The truth is there are many good feeding, housing and management practices that work well for cows and milk quality. There is no one-size-fits-all or one method that is best. All Grade A milk must meet high standards.
The bottom line, picking out dairy products in the grocery store shouldn’t be such a challenge. I encourage you to pick the products that taste good, offer the nutrients you are looking for and are in the right price range for your budget. Thank you for supporting dairy farmers by purchasing dairy products!