EAST LANSING, MI. — June is a great month with the longest daylight hours of the year and being National Milk Month! Observed since 1937, it was then called National Milk Month. Popular dairy products include milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, and ice cream.
Who doesn’t love a cheeseburger, a cheese pizza, a glass of cold chocolate milk, a fruit yogurt, a toast with butter or an ice cream cone? Although milk is usually refrigerated in the United States, “hot” milk, simply off the grocery store shelf, is common in other parts of the world.
Milk is one of the healthiest, safest and most sustainable foods and beverages available. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN FAO) commented on the importance of milk as part of a healthy and balanced diet. The USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend people aged nine and older eat three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products each day.
Americans eat more dairy products than any other food group except fruits and vegetables. This includes approximately 36 pounds of various cheeses, 23 pounds of ice cream, and 165 pounds of milk. Plant-based products that claim to replace milk have long and confusing ingredient lists. Plant-based drinks contain ingredients we can’t even pronounce let alone contain all the nutrients just like cow’s milk. Milk contains calcium, potassium, riboflavin, protein, niacin, and vitamins D, A, and B12. Of course, lactose intolerant people need a substitute like others for various reasons.
The most popular cheese recipe is “mac and cheese”. There are about 2,000 varieties of cheese. Cheddar cheese originated in the village of Cheddar, England. Goat cheese is distinguished by the tart flavor of goat’s milk. Swiss cheese is the general name for many types of cheese originally prepared in Switzerland. The holes are the result of carbon dioxide release during the ripening process.
Louis Pasteur, a French chemist and microbiologist, pioneered the process of pasteurization around 150 years ago when he was tasked with finding practical solutions to problems such as keeping harmful bacteria away from different foods. He is remembered for his remarkable breakthroughs in the causes and prevention of disease, saving countless lives.
The most productive dairy cows yield over 30,000 pounds of milk per year. The world milk production record is held by Hilda, a dairy cow from Wisconsin who gave more than 48,000 pounds of milk per year over a nine-year period, totaling more than 460,000 pounds of milk. Although milk is produced on dairy farms in all 50 states, Michigan ranks seventh in dairy production in the United States, with California being number one, followed by Wisconsin, Idaho, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas. Shamrock Farms, located south of Phoenix, with 10,000 cows, supplies all the milk for Subway restaurants, especially in Monroe County and Michigan.
Monroe County currently has two working dairy farms. The Calder Dairy Farm in Carleton promotes agritourism, makes ice cream right on the farm, and always delivers milk in glass containers. The Monroe County Fair always features famous cow and goat milking contests!