It’s been going on for 75 years.
June Dairy Month, that is. And as a dairy farmer, I kind of like the idea that we celebrate what my family and 600 more like it across Illinois do, and what we provide to people. It’s milk, of course, and all the wonderful things it can become – cheese, yogurt, butter, ice cream, and on and on.
The month we’re celebrating is being kicked off by World Milk Day June 1, which is very appropriate. Initiated by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Milk Day marks the importance of milk as part of a healthy and balanced diet, and the dairy community’s global contributions to economic development and agriculture. It also celebrates the sustainability practices on our farms and how we protect the environment while producing milk.
As a dairy farmer, I also celebrate the fact that the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans affirms dairy’s important place in the diet. According to the guidelines, everyone ages nine and older should consume three servings of dairy foods every day. And while the current recommendation is for low-fat or fat-free dairy, there is mounting evidence full-fat dairy does a body good, too. More and more people are also realizing how dairy products including milk, cheese and yogurt have high-quality protein to support healthy muscles and promote fullness.
Are you one of those people who reads labels on what you eat? Ever notice milk only has three ingredients listed on the label – milk and vitamins A and D? There is also an interesting fact in what the label doesn’t say – that most milk has only about a 48-hour journey from the farm to the grocery store, making it a local food. So, dairy supports two current trends: eating local and eating clean.
Without families like mine, dairy’s contribution to healthy eating wouldn’t be happening. The work we do every day includes recycling, water conservation, soil stewardship, energy savings and care for our animals.
Here are a few things to think about as you consider celebrating June Dairy Month with us:
■ Get to know a Midwest dairy farm family by attending a June Dairy Month event in your state or meeting a Midwest dairy farm family online.
■ Take the Dairy 3 For Me pledge where you commit to enjoy three servings of dairy every day.
■ Include dairy as part of meals and snacks. To start, try this Raspberry-Strawberry Smoothie made with milk and yogurt.
■ Post a photo of your glass of milk June 1, World Milk Day, with the hashtag #WorldMilkDay.
On my farm, quite a few things are the same during June as any other month. We milk our cows, tend our crops, and spend time with our families and in our communities. If we’re lucky, we get to show a few people how much we care about providing the milk that nourishes people.
So, thanks in advance for helping us remember we have our own special month – June Dairy Month – because it’s a great reason to celebrate.