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June Dairy Month celebrates mighty milk

June is National Dairy Month, observed since 1937 when it was called National Milk Month.  Common dairy products include; milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream, non-fat milk powder, whey and lactose products.  

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) kicked off June 1, 2017 as World Milk Day to mark the importance of milk as a part of a healthy and balanced diet.  2015 Dietary Guidelines recommends that people ages nine and older consume three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods every day.

Who doesn’t enjoy a cheeseburger, a pizza with cheese, a cold glass of chocolate milk, yogurt with fruit or toast with butter?  Although milk is usually refrigerated in the US, “warm” milk is common in other parts of the world.

Americans eat more dairy products than any other food group except for fruits and vegetables.  This includes about 36 pounds of various cheeses, 23 pounds of ice cream and 165 pounds of milk.   

The most popular cheese recipe is “macaroni and cheese.”  There are about 2,000 varieties of cheese.  Cheddar cheese originated in the village of Cheddar, England.  Goat cheese is distinctive due to the tangy flavor of goat milk.  Swiss cheese is the general name for numerous types of cheese that were initially prepared in Switzerland.  The holes are the result of carbon dioxide releases during the process of maturation.  

Louis Pasteur, a French chemist and microbiologist developed the pasteurization process about 150 years ago when he was tasked with finding practical solutions for problems such as keeping harmful bacteria at bay in different foods.  He is remembered for his remarkable breakthroughs in the causes and preventions of diseases, saving countless lives.  Milk contains calcium, potassium, riboflavin, protein, niacin and vitamins D, A and B12. 

Top producing dairy cows give more than 30,000 pounds of milk annually.  The world record was set in 2010 when a Holstein cow from Wisconsin named “Ever-Green-View My 1326-ET” produced 72,170 pounds of milk.  Although milk is produced on dairy farms in all 50 states, Michigan ranks 7th in milk production in the U.S., with California being #1, followed by Wisconsin, Idaho, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.  

Monroe County currently has four working dairy farms.  Calder Dairy farm in Carleton promotes agro-tourism, makes ice cream right on the farm and still delivers milk in glass containers.  The Monroe County fair still has celebrity cow and goat milking contests!