June is Dairy Month

Ice cream, yogurt, cheese – wonderful cheese, milk, sour cream…yum-oh…and the list goes on. Not only do dairy cows provide all these delicious foods but these foods provide us with so much nutrition!

Milk is the leading food source of nine essential nutrients in the diets of kids ages 2-18, including protein, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, vitamins A, B12, D and riboflavin – wow! Milk and milk products provide calcium which helps build strong bones and teeth and protein which builds strong muscles… and get this…the calcium in milk is easily absorbed and used in the body, which is why milk and dairy foods are reliable as well as economical sources of calcium.

This is great news, but its even better to know that California is the lead dairy producing state in the nation, having surpassed Wisconsin back in 1993, and the number two producer of cheese!

Can you say local?

Did you know the cows that produce all this goodness live on family owned and operated dairies – about 1,300 of them here in CA. One such dairy, protected forever with a CFT easement in 2006, is the Magenson Dairy.

Happy cows grazing in California on the Magneson Dairy

The Magneson family runs a picturesque organic dairy farm along the Merced River in Merced County (#2 dairy county in CA) near the town of Ballico. Way back in 1890 Charles and Christina Magneson bought the land to farm – and now their dairy is protected forever. These 383 acres of prime farmland produce corn, wheat, and permanent pasture for the cows. Recent environmental enhancements to the dairy include a Wood Duck pond and Wood Duck nest boxes installed in trees near the river; enhanced salmon spawning; replanting of willow and cotton wood trees along the river levees, and planting a hedge row of native shrubs at the end of the slough.

With all the Magneson’s good stewardship, we can see why its so important to keep farmers farming and doing what they do best – growing food and caring for our natural resources!

Keeping it local: The Real California seal – When you see the seal, you’ll feel good knowing that the product is certified as having been made with 100% Real California Milk from Real California Dairy families – like the Magnesons!

So why do they look like that? 

Dairy cattle are bred for the ability to produce large quantities of milk, from which dairy products are made. Ever wonder why dairy cows seem to look ‘skinny’? These breeds put their energy into making milk, not meat – the beef and dairy industries are highly specialized and breeding over time has resulted in cattle which produce either more milk for the dairy or higher quality beef cuts – each are like trained athletes performing at their best!

Any other benefits of the dairy industry?

  • 189,000 jobs depend on the California Dairy industry, including 55,000 milk production and processing jobs
  • 1 on the dairy job creates 6 jobs beyond the dairy
  • $21 billion dairy direct economic activity, $65 billion dairy-related economic activity
  • Peak milk production with fewer resources: 24,000 pounds of milk per cow in 2014, up from 15,000 pounds in 1984 – this means the cows are more efficient and healthier – like trained athletes at their peak performance!

Summer Meal Sights for CA kids
Summer time often means CA kids who usually depend on free or reduced lunch at school miss out on healthy meals. The Dairy Council of CA is “working with with community organizations, nonprofits, schools, libraries and more to provide fun activities and free promotional resources for summer meals to keep healthy eating on the menu for all California children 18 and under this summer.” Check this program out and share it with your community! Thanks Dairy Council of CA and your partners for putting kids first.

Now, let’s eat some dairy – the it’s-summer-time-California-kinda-way… try this easy Creamy CA Guacamole from our friends at CA Milk Advisory Board.