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Americans eat more dairy products than other food groups except for fruits and vegetables

EAST LANSING, MI. — June is a great month with the longest daylight hours of the year and being National Dairy 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 enjoy a cheeseburger, a pizza with cheese, a cold glass of chocolate milk, yogurt with fruit, toast with butter or an ice cream cone?  Although milk is usually refrigerated in the US, “warm” milk, simply on the grocery shelf, is common in other parts of the world.

Milk is one of the healthiest, safest and sustainable food and drink available.  The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) has commented on the importance of milk as a part of a healthy and balanced diet.  USDA Dietary Guidelines recommends that people ages nine and older consume three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods every day.

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.  Plant-based products that claim to be a substitute for milk have a long and confusing list of ingredients.  Plant based beverages contain ingredients we can’t even pronounce let alone have all the nutrients as does dairy milk. Milk contains calcium, potassium, riboflavin, protein, niacin and vitamins D, A and B12.  Of course, lactose intolerant people need a substitute as do others for various reasons.

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.  

Top producing dairy cows give more than 30,000 pounds of milk annually.  The world record for milk production is held by Hilda, a Wisconsin dairy cow who gave over 48,000 pounds of milk per year over a nine-year period, totaling over 460,000 pounds of milk.  Although milk is produced on dairy farms in all 50 states, Michigan ranks seventh in milk production in the U.S., 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, including in Monroe County and Michigan.

  Monroe County currently has two 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!