June is National Dairy Month. Here are 6 reasons to give a sip 🥛:
1. Dairy is good for you
Milk packs in 13 essential nutrients in every serving, including, protein, zinc, selenium, vitamin A and vitamin D, which contribute to healthy immune function. Dairy foods like cheese and yogurt also provide high-quality protein, calcium, vitamin A and B vitamins.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) recognize that moderate evidence shows milk and milk products are linked to improved bone health (especially in children and teens) and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as lower blood pressure in adults. So cheers to that!
2. Dairy is local
While the small New England dairy farm can’t feed everyone in the world, a healthy, diverse network of local farms can help feed everyone in New England. Massachusetts dairy farms produce 23% of the milk consumed in MA. Because milk is quite perishable, the milk supply chain is fast, clean, safe, efficient, and local! Milk from New England dairy farms is on a grocery store shelf within 48 hours of leaving the farm!
3. Dairy is accessible
1 in 6 Americans faces hunger. The first step in addressing this issue is ensuring that nutritious foods are available for all. At ~$0.26 or less per cup, milk is affordable nutrition.
4. Dairy preserves our landscape
The average Massachusetts dairy farm has 114 cows and 343 acres of land. MA dairy farmers collectively keep 50,367 acres of land farmed, open, and green which is excellent for wildlife habitat, ground water protection, property values, community well-being, climate resilience, and food security. In the Pioneer Valley alone, dairy farms steward 18% of agricultural land despite the fact they make up less than 2% of the farm businesses.
5. Dairy feeds our soils
Because the land is our livelihood, and because better crops yield better milk, dairy farmers practice sustainable farming tactics to preserve the quality of soil, reduce erosion, mitigate runoff, sequester carbon, and protect the greater ecosystem where we grow our crops, care for our herds, and raise our families. We use a number of practices to sustain our soils including: planting cover crops, rotational planting, applying no-till practices, responsibly managing manure as fertilizer, and maintaining riparian buffers along waterways.
6. Dairy connects us with our roots
Dairy farming is a way of life closely connected with the land and our heritage. Preservation of dairy farms sustains the history and landscape of New England agriculture. Nearly all dairy farmers are enrolled in programs to keep their farm land in agriculture (like the APR program), apply practices to maintain rural farming heritage, and apply practices to promote good relationships with their neighbors. The Boston Globe reported that New England has lost more than 10,000 dairy farms in the last 50 years, and that two-thirds of Massachusetts dairy farms have been shuttered since 1997. There are just over 100 dairy farms left in the the Commonwealth.
How to Celebrate
Local farmstands in Hadley, South Hadley, and Sunderland are celebrating June with the Dairy Month Dairy Crawl! Visit the participating farmstands and purchase an ice cream to get your Dairy Crawl passport stamped between June 1 and June 30 for a chance to win! Full details and passport pdf at dairycrawl.com. Start your Crawl at pick up your passport at Barstow’s!
You can also celebrate Dairy Month by buying local! Choose Cabot and Hood products when you are in the dairy aisle. And when you can, purchase directly from farm stores. We hope to see you at Barstow’s this holiday weekend for lunch and ice cream or for Memorial Day staples like: picnic salads, farm raised burgers and steaks for the grill, local beer and wine, and homemade treats from the bakery case. We are also accepting special orders now for Father’s Day.