Updated: May 26, 2021
With the Virginia dairy industry in a decline for several years now, the conversation during herd check regularly turns to how the farm can continue care for their herd and produce high-quality milk with a steadily declining milk check. We routinely discuss ways to increase revenue or streamline expenses to allow the farm to stay in business.
Dairy farming is a labor of love. The physical and mental demands are extreme and constant. All those involved in the industry feel heartache each time a farmer must call it quits, shut down their parlor, and say goodbye to their beloved cows.
The good news is that you can help. While the consumption of dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and ice cream is increasing, the consumption of fluid milk continues to drop and for no good reason. Here are some serious arguments for why we should all look for ways to increase dairy in our diets — and it’s not just to save the farms!
1. Milk always beats out the “alternatives.” There are many dairy alternatives available, but none rival the nutritional profile of real milk. Milk has nine essential nutrients, only three simple ingredients and significantly less processing than milk alternatives. I've provided more details about why the milk alternatives just don't stack up in another blog post, Why I Choose Real Milk.
2. Chocolate milk is the perfect workout recovery drink. Chocolate milk has the ideal protein:carbohydrate ratio (3:1) to replenish muscles after a workout. The proteins contained in milk, whey and casein, reduce muscle breakdown and enhance muscle repair. Additionally, milk costs significantly less than any sports beverage out there!
3. Whole milk — it does a body good! Scientific consensus about the role of saturated fat in our diets has evolved significantly in recent years. There are now many studies showing that choosing whole fat dairy products does not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, multiple studies show a decrease in obesity among those consuming whole fat dairy products rather than lower fat alternatives. This may be due to the unique fatty acid profile of dairy products or it may be a simple matter of satiety, but it is good news for those who may have left dairy due to concerns about heart health or obesity.
4. Can you beat the taste? One reason for the decline in dairy consumption is the fast-paced nature of modern lives. We don’t sit down and have a glass of milk with our meals because we are always on the go. But there are many ways other than milk that dairy can be a part of your life! Yogurt is a healthy snack and great for making smoothies. Cheese and butter are essential parts of many meals. And dessert would not be the same without ice cream.
Next time you are at the grocery store, think about the dairy farmer near you milking cows and feeding calves while worrying about how to feed their own families. Let’s be thankful for the plentiful nutritious, tasty and affordable dairy products made available to us by these hardworking people. Slow down for a glass of milk and always choose real dairy.
Need more dairy ideas? Check out my favorite recipe for Very Dairy Mac 'n Cheese.