Friday, January 28, 2011

America's Milk Safety

America's dairy farmers provide safe milk. When I go to buy my two or three gallons every week at the grocery store, I never worry about milk safety because I have first hand knowledge of how milk gets to the store. Three hundred sixty five days a year, we milk three hundred cows twice daily. Along with the nation's 55,000 dairy producers, we take our responsibility seriously when it comes to providing a safe product. Milk is the most highly tested and regulated food that is available to consumers. Safety of milk starts on the farm with proper care of our animals and vigilant milking procedures. Our animals receive medication only when sick. Treatment plans are developed by our veterinarian to provide proper care. On our farm, if a milk cow is treated with an antibiotic, that cow is milked in a separate container and the milk is thrown away. That treated cow's milk will not be allowed into the bulk milk tank until a sample of her milk is tested by our dairy cooperative lab and proven free of antibiotics. Each time milk is picked up on our farm to travel to the processing plant, a sample of milk is taken by the milk truck driver and carried to the plant. Before the milk is unloaded at the plant, the milk is tested for antibiotics. It is unloaded into a milk silo before processing and will be tested again before it is pasteurized and bottled. If at any time, antibiotic is found in the milk, the milk is discarded. The commitment of the dairy industry to provide safe products is reinforced by a statement from the National Milk Producers Federation this week:

The U.S. milk industry has an exemplary record concerning management of antibiotics. Under a comprehensive program administered by the state regulatory authorities and overseen by FDA, the U.S. dairy industry conducts nearly 4 million tests each year to ensure that antibiotics are kept out of the milk supply. For example in 2009, only .028% tested positive, and those very rare cases, the mik is not sold to the public.

Rest assured, America's dairy farmers are committed to providing safe and wholesome milk to consumers.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dairy Shopping Tips

American consumers are enjoying the safest and most available food supply in the world, but it
does come with increasing cost. As a dairy farmer and a consumer, I am concerned with the rising price of oil and what it is costing us on the farm and at the grocery store. It would be logical to think when the price of milk goes up at the grocery store that dairy farmers are making more money. Unfortunately, the dairy farmers are not putting more money in their pockets. The final price that we pay at the grocery store includes the increased fuel costs in transportation,packaging, and distribution of the product. Here are a few tips to remember when stretching your food dollars and shopping for dairy foods:

  • All packaged milk is safe and antibiotic free

  • Generic or store brands are usually cheapest but have same nutritional value as name brands

  • Check the date when purchasing; the date on the package is the last date for the store to sell it; milk stays fresh 5-7 days after being opened

  • Store milk at 36-40 degrees

  • Buy milk by the gallon

  • Buy low-fat,plain yogurt by the quart, flavor it yourself and use it as an ingredient for healthier recipes

  • Buy cheese in block form and shred it yourself

You can find more information about dairy nutrition and the added value of dairy to your diet at and Do you have any other dairy shopping tips to share?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Factory Farm Fallacy

Are the factory farmers out in the blowing snow, seventeen degree temps and wind chill below ten degrees? That was the question that crossed my mind as I was feeding dairy calves in those conditions this morning. Factory farms must have factory farmers but I have never met any factory farmers. Have you? In case you have never heard the term factory farm, it is used by people that want to describe modern agriculture as being the worst thing that has happened to our society. The words factory farm are used to bring a very nasty and negative picture of agriculture. As the wife of a third generation dairy farmer, the mother of the fourth generation to live and work on our farm, and a city girl that has devoted twenty six years to agriculture and producing food for friends and neighbors,I am insulted by the use of the term factory farm. Everyday the average family farmer is feeding 145 non-farmers. Ninety eight percent of American farms are family owned. We Americans enjoy the safest and most affordable food and that is no accident. Our food doesn't come from factory farms, it comes from family farms like ours that work everyday to produce a healthy,safe and nutritious product while caring for our animals and protecting the environment for future generations. If I could remove the word factory farm from the vocabulary and irresponsible websites, I would do it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately I can't but I will happily continue to share and have conversations with any one who wishes to know how we produce safe,affordable food on the family farm.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Rural Community Greater Than A Tornado

Rural communities represent the strength of America. The tornado that struck the small community of Cincinnati,Arkansas on New Year's Eve took the lives of four people. One of these victims was a dairy farmer who was doing what he had done every morning for the last fifty years--milking his cows. Although we did not know this farmer personally, this tragedy saddened us deeply. This weekend Ryan and I drove twenty miles into the next county for a fundraiser to support the Cincinnati community. The evening included a barbecue dinner,country music from a local band, and an auction of donated items at the Lincoln community building in the middle of the town square. As we entered the community building, it was obvious that the community came out to support their friends and neighbors who had been affected by this tornado destruction. Every table was filled with folks eating their dinner and the food line wrapped all around three sides of the large room. The folks that planned the fundraiser had hoped for one hundred people--three hundred people came to support the Cincinnati community. Before the auctioneer started the bidding he stated that we had come together to support our friends and neighbors because that's what Americans do for each other when we are hurting and need help. The evening was a great success for this community because of rural friends and neighbors. I felt blessed to have experienced just what the auctioneer stated. Rural communities reaching out to help friends and neighbors is what provides strength to our American way!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Dairymom's Diet Dash

Get ready,get set,'s the new year and for probably the last twenty years, I begin the diet dash to lose weight after the holidays. With age, I am really geting a lot wiser and a bit more serious about the negatives of being what some describe as "too fluffy" or "heavy" or "overweight" or just plain "fat"( My sweet Mother also called it "baby fat")! I could probably be considered an expert of knowing how to diet, I just need to execute the plan. I do have a plan and this is what I have done so far. I first stepped on the scales--that took tremendous courage but a necessary step in beginning the plan. The second step is to keep a food diary. This is a great tool for me because it keeps me honest and it helps me to realize why and when I fall off the diet wagon. I am now ready to throw out all the Christmas and holiday goodies. I am really going for the long term changes to my eating habits, so I am going to use the DASH diet plan. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension(DASH). Although this diet was developed to stop hypertension(high blood pressure), it is recommended for overall health by the American Heart Association and the National Cancer Institute. The eating plan is rich in low fat dairy foods, fruits and vegetables and low in fat,saturated fat and cholesterol. You can find out more about this diet at If you are considering a diet plan of any kind, check first with your family doctor. Nothing comes easy but good health is worth what ever the plan requires. I am dashing on to good health, how about you?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dairy Farmer's Tart

Fontina asparagus tart and my dairy farmer husband are both amazing. We invited friends to join us for Sunday lunch to celebrate the New Year. Ryan was frying turkey and making Dutch oven peach cobbler. My task was to get everything else ready. As I rushed from the kitchen to get ready for church, he asked me if I had ingredients to make this recipe he found in our newest Country magazine.The three main ingredients needed were fresh asparagus,frozen puff pastry and fontina cheese. I had none of them. As I left for church, he left for the grocery store. When I returned home, the Fontina Asparagus Tart was on the cabinet waiting to be baked. It was delicious! I later read that fontina cheese originated in Italy near the Swiss border in 1477. It is a semi-soft cheese made from cow's milk with a buttery,nutty taste and is used for table or cooking. When I asked him why he wanted to try a recipe with asparagus since I knew he would never have eaten plain asparagus, his answer was--"anything green is better covered with cheese". Amazing!!

Fontina Asparagus Tart

1 lb. fresh asparagus,trimmed

1 sheet frozen puff pastry,thawed

1/2 lb.fontina cheese,shredded,divided

2 Tbsp.lemon juice

1 tsp. grated lemon peel

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp pepper

In a large skillet,bring 1 inch of water to a boil;add asparagus. Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes or just until crisp tender;drain.

On a lightly,floured surface, unfold puff pastry. Roll into a 16-in.x12 in. rectangle;transfer

to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups cheese over pastry. Arrange asparagus on top; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Combine lemon juice,lemon peel,oil,salt and pepper; sprinkle over top. Bake 10-15 minutes longer or until asparagus is tender and cheese is melted. Slice and serve warm.

Yield: 24 servings

*Recipe found in December/January2011 Country Magazine