For those of us who are focusing on eating fresh, high quality, natural foods, dairy products are a food group that fits the description well. Chef Marshall toured a dairy farm recently and came back with a wealth of information on modern dairy farming practices and how products go from farm to market. With kids out of school and parents looking for easy meal solutions, we thought we would focus on this easy to prepare, wholesome food group this month. Dairy is a key component of a nutritious diet—great for your child’s development and for your ongoing health because it supplies an average of 8 grams of protein per serving, along with generous amounts of vitamins B2 and B12, calcium and potassium. It is also enriched with vitamin D to aid in the absorption of calcium.

From Farm to Table

Did you know that milk goes from the cow to the grocery store in 48 hours? And that it undergoes multiple quality control tests during that process? It’s true. Milk is one of the most highly regulated food products in the grocery store.

Here’s a quick synopsis that most of us who are city dwellers are not aware of:

  • Healthy cows provide milk. If a cow is on antibiotics, the milk is not used.
  • The milk is cooled at the farm to 45 degrees or lower.
  • Refrigerated tanker trucks transport milk to the dairy plant.
  • The milk is tested for antibiotics and other quality and safety issues before being added to the aggregate supply.
  • The milk is pasteurized, homogenized and bottled.
  • Containers of milk are sent to grocery stores, usually within 48 hours of leaving the farm.

Minnesota is the eighth largest dairy-producing state in the U.S—California is first, followed by Wisconsin. Dairy is the second largest crop in Minnesota, behind hogs. There are 36 dairy plants in the state, and 70 percent of the milk produced in Minnesota is converted to solid dairy products: cheese, butter and yogurt. This week’s feature recipe, Roasted Chicken, Ricotta and Apple Pita (insert link) includes ricotta cheese, a soft, creamy cheese that mixes well with other ingredients. Its nutritional profile is similar to that of milk, mentioned above.

Real Food, Real Fast

Next week’s Real Food, Real Fast feature also includes dairy as a key ingredient. Most cooks realize that many recipes include dairy as a significant component–it gives a boost to the taste, texture and nutritional value of the dish, and the recipe we will share is no exception.

Dairy is Nutritious

The week of June 20, we will focus will be on the many nutrients packed into dairy products and also shares an easy recipe for homemade Greek yogurt. Many of us don’t realize how easy it is to transform a simple half-gallon of milk into this creamy, delicious food that makes a super breakfast or snack. Greek yogurt is high in protein and making it yourself is economical and allows you to tailor the flavor to your taste.

Today’s Dairy Farms Focus on Sustainable Agriculture

Farming practices have changed dramatically over the last several decades and dairy farming is no exception. Our week of the 27th blog, we will highlight the sustainable agriculture practices being adopted by many dairy farms that help cut down on pollution, make wise use of natural resources and help the farms' bottom lines. It’s a fascinating story.

Dairy—a Versatile Food Group

Dairy makes a great addition to most people’s diets. Whether it’s milk, cream, cheese, cottage cheese or yogurt, its versatile taste and texture makes dairy an easy, tasty snack on its own or a great addition to recipes. Try some today.

You will love the way you feel!