Why I Never Turn Down a Farm Tour
As a dietitian, I’ve learned a lot about food. I know about carbohydrates, protein, and fats and the ratios that function best in your body. I know about calcium, and vitamin D, MyPlate, and how to cook healthy meals. And while all of these are important to my clientele, my favorite thing to learn is where all that food gets its start. I feel it’s my duty as a dietitian to teach my clients not only what to eat but how that food was produced. How did that gallon of milk get from the farm to your fridge?
In the United States, there seems to be a lot of fear surrounding the food we eat. But as I take the opportunity to delve deeper into agriculture industries like dairy, I’m finding many of these fears are extremely unwarranted. During the recent Oklahoma Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics conference, I listened to Abigail Copenhaver speak. A registered dietitian and dairy farmer from New York, Abigail offered us the opportunity to peek inside her farm for a little better understanding of how milk is produced.
What Really Goes on at a Dairy Farm?
One of the things that stood out most to me about Abigail’s presentation was how great a dairy cow’s life seems to be. Dairy cows work about 45 minutes a day total, the rest of the day they get to lounge in comfy dry barns, and they get two months of vacation yearly! I could get used to that life. Also, as Abigail put it, they get their “sheets changed” every day and get their “nails done” to help protect their feet. Luxurious life!
Another thing that stood out to me was learning about the precision that goes into a dairy cow’s diet. Abigail compared it to feeding a professional athlete. Their diets are closely watched and tweaked when needed to make sure dairy cows are at their very best. Just like humans have dietitians to help with their diets, cows have animal nutritionists that work to give them the best and healthiest diet possible.
The Farm Family
The biggest thing I took away from the presentation was how much pride and hard work Abigail and her dairy farmer husband put into producing safe and healthy milk. From making sure their cows are comfortable to checking the milk regularly to ensure the utmost quality (and by the way, there are no antibiotics in milk), I have so much respect for the work Abigail does on her farm so my family can enjoy a healthy glass of milk.
I love opportunities like Abigail’s presentation that help me connect the farm to my fridge and relieve my fears about agriculture. But you don’t have to be a dietitian to learn more about where your food comes from: