This weekend my husband and I had the distinct pleasure of being guests of the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council at the NY Dairy Farm to Table blogger event in Canandaigua, NY. The purpose of the event was to get people more excited about the dairy industry and guess what? It worked! I'm excited!
I grew up in a mostly suburban area that had a few farms on the outskirts, but nothing like the farm we got to visit this weekend. I'll admit it: when I was told we were going to be visiting a dairy farm, I thought the worst. I figured it would smell like manure, the cows would be gross and I would never drink milk again. On the contrary, I am very happy to report that none of that happened at Noblehurst Farms. The farm was absolutely beautiful. The cows are very well taken care of and now all I want to do is eat ice cream.
I learned so much about the dairy process and what actually goes into getting that gallon of milk in my fridge. I'll give you some of the facts as stated by the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council:
- Farmers employ professional nutritionists to develop a scientifically formulated, balanced and nutritious diet for their cows. Diets include hay, grains, protein sources, and vitamins and minerals.
- Dairy cows receive regular veterinary care, including periodic check-ups, preventative vaccinations and prompt treatment of illness.
- Dairy farms must meet standards for manure storage, handling and recycling per guidelines from state and federal agencies. Once dried, manure is reused as comfortable animal bedding, composted for local garden centers and nurseries, or spread on fields to grow healthy crops, thereby reducing the need for commercial fertilizers.
- Dairy farms must follow strict state and local water quality regulations. Dairy farmers use water responsibly in their milking parlors, in water storage and in recycling.
- Dairy is one of the most regulated and inspected industries in agriculture. Dairy farms must abide by federal, state and local clean water laws that regulate manure application on cropland, and government agencies regularly inspect the water on dairy farms. Further, state agencies have rigorous processes for granting permits to new and expanding dairy farms.
- Dairy farmers live and work on their farms, so they understand the importance of protecting our natural resources, so that it will be there for future generations.
- All milk is strictly tested for antibiotics on the farm and processing plant. Any milk that tests positive is disposed of immediately and does not get into the food supply.
- The U.S. dairy industry conducts more than 3.3 million tests each year on all milk entering dairy plants to ensure that antibiotics are kept out of the milk supply.
Those things are important to me. Also very important? The nutritional value of it all. Milk is a great source of calcium, Vitamin B and protein. And it tastes great! (OK, now I just sound like a commercial.)
At this awesome event, we also got to visit the New York Wine & Culinary Center for some dairy based treats. If you've never heard of this place, it is the coolest restaurant/demonstration center I've ever been to. They have several classes available to help people like you and me learn how to drink wine (I never thought I'd need a class for THAT, but boy was I doing it wrong before!), pair it with cheeses, and cook beautiful foods that could impress just about anybody.
We got to try 5 different wines and cheeses which were all fabulous. We also got to learn from Chef Andrew Chambers how to make pancetta filled raviolis, a fantastic beef tenderloin and the most amazing chocolate amaretto breme brulee I've ever eaten.
The weekend was absolutely wonderful. I can't say enough about it without sounding like a broken record. They also sent us home with a great little gift bag filled with fun dairy inspired items including a Taste of New York cookbook!
Because we all want you to get excited about dairy, the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council wants YOU to have the same gift bag, too! All you have to do is fill out the rafflecopter below (and complete the tasks required) and you could win the same awesome gift bag I got. Best of luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I could honestly go on and on for hours about how wonderful this weekend was, but you will just have to take my word for it. Visiting the dairy farm was a highlight of my year that I won't forget. Thank you everyone involved in making the weekend such a success! To read more about it, check out another piece I wrote for NJ.com's Parental Guidance section.