Farm-City Week

People love to shop for clothes and eat! We love the variety of food we can taste and the styles that clothing stores offer. Who is to thank for all these wonderful products – it starts with farmers!  National Farm-City Week is celebrated this week. This year marks the 57th anniversary of the annual celebration. As you prepare your Thanksgiving meal think about these things which you are grateful.

Farm-City Week celebrates the partnership between farmers and their urban colleagues who help prepare, transport, market and retail the food and fiber farmers grow for America’s consumers. Did you know that nearly 1 in 20 workers in our national economy plays a role in getting food and fiber from the farm to consumers?

Many people are now two, three or even four generations removed from life on the farm. People do not completely understand and lack the first-hand knowledge of how their food gets from the farm to their plate.  National Farm-City Week helps call attention to the agricultural community and the origins of products we enjoy daily.

Although the number of farms in the United States has declined over the years, agricultural production continues to meet the needs of a growing population. Today’s farmer grows twice as much food as his or her parents did, but uses less land, water and energy to do so.

Some ways Farm-City Week is being celebrated in communities across the country are hosting farm days at schools, farm tours, banquets and proclamations. Farm-City Week can be celebrated throughout the year too! I urge you to visit a modern dairy farm with your family if you have never stepped foot on one.

Consider adding the farmers and all those who helped get the food you will eat this holiday season to your list of people to give thanks.

More info about National Farm-City Week is available at farmcity.org . Test your knowledge and take a farm city quiz as well!

Top 10 Memories from 2011

We had another busy year and made many memories.  It’s tough to choose just 10; but here, in no particular order, is my top 10 list:

Celebrating 80 years of nutrition education in Indiana through our Dairy Council.  Indiana dairy farmers are long time supporters of nutrition research and education for the health of Hoosiers.

Dining at the home of Jim Irsay!  We partner with the Colts to bring improved nutrition and fitness experiences to Indiana school students.  That partnership yielded an invitation that I was thrilled to accept and gave me a rare opportunity to chat with Mr. Irsay about our Fuel Up to Play 60 program.

Celebrating 100 years of Indy car racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Indiana dairy farmers and the racing fraternity have a special bond:  milk.  We produce it.  They drink it to celebrate winning the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.  That’s why, in Indiana, we know that Winners drink milk!®

Helping our two dairy farmer milkmen get ready to present the famous bottle of milk in Victory Circle following the Indianapolis 500.  This year I was very close to the action!  How exciting!

Attending our annual Dairy Summit.  More than 250 registered dietitians and school nutrition professionals came to the conference to learn from experts about the new dietary guidelines, the benefits of flavored milk at school and chocolate milk as a sports recovery drink.

Visiting several dairy farms during the Kentuckiana Dairy Exchange in Indiana.  Each year, dairy farmers from Kentucky and Indiana get together to tour farms and swap ideas.  We have a varied and vibrant dairy industry in Indiana and it was great to spend some time on several fascinating farms.

Watching Diane Ruyack receive her 35-year service award at our annual meeting.  I’ve had the privilege to work with Diane for many years and was so grateful to see her be recognized for a long career sharing the good nutrition news about dairy products on behalf of Indiana’s dairy farmers.

Unveiling the cheese sculpture at the Indiana State Fair.  For several years, we’ve brought Sarah Kaufmann, cheese sculptor, to our great state fair to create a work of art from huge blocks of cheese delighting thousands of fair-goers!

Hosting Dairy Day at Victory Field.  We entertained Indiana dairy farmers at the beautiful ball park in June.  It was a great time for visiting and showcasing dairy at the ball game.

Announcing that 2012 is the Year of Dairy Cows at the Indiana State Fair!

100 and 80 and 70+

Born out of a commitment for service, matured through the processes of service to health and education, the dairy industry developed and nurtured what is known today as the Dairy & Nutrition Council of Indiana, Inc. 

Those words written thirty years ago evoke strong feelings.  Looking back and reading those words once again, I feel the intense pride in our Indiana dairy farm families that I felt thirty years ago while putting together the program for the Northern Indiana Dairy Council’s 50th anniversary!   My pride stems from knowing Indiana dairy farm families’ dedication to providing, not only good food, but a gold-standard nutrition education program as well.

2011 marks the 80th anniversary of the organization known today as Dairy & Nutrition Council, Inc.  Our materials and programs look different from those of 80 years ago, but our reliance on sound science has never changed.  We continue to work with health professionals, educators and the media delivering current, peer-reviewed nutrition science and information along with practical tips to make a difference in the lives of Hoosiers.

One of the first health messages, 80 years ago, to school children was presented on a book mark:  Eat 3 meals daily including at least ONE GLASS OF MILK WITH EACH MEAL.  Today we are part of Fuel Up To Play 60, a nation-wide nutrition and fitness initiative in more than 70,000 schools across America empowering students to make healthy food and fitness choices.

Our Indiana dairy farm families didn’t stop at nutrition education.  They also nurture and support promotion programs.  The most notable being Winners Drink Milk®, the marketing and public relations efforts around the storied ice cold Drink of Milk in Victory Circle, following the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

2011 marks the 100th anniversary of the first running of that greatest spectacle in racing!  The tradition of drinking milk to celebrate winning the Indy 500 got its start 70+ years ago.  When legendary race driver Louis Meyer pulled into Victory Lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Memorial Day 1933 and asked for a cold glass of buttermilk to quench his thirst after 500 grueling miles a tradition was born.  For more than 70 years the drink of milk tradition has remained an endearing part of Indianapolis lore.  In 2005 the drink of milk tradition was named the sports world’s coolest prize by Sports Illustrated on their website.

Today, dairy farmers who serve as directors on the board of Milk Promotion Services of Indiana are selected, in teams of two, to deliver the ice cold milk to the winning driver on race day, helping him or her re-hydrate, refuel and refresh.

Looking Back… Indiana State Fair 2010

Elles Niessen, the 2010 Indiana Dairy Princess, is our guest blogger today. We hope that you enjoy learning about her memorable experiences at the Indiana State Fair.

            I realize that the Indiana State Fair has been over for almost a month, but I still want to share my experiences

Elles, second from right, at Indiana State Fair Dairy Show.

from it since I’ve attended it every year since I was in the 4th grade. To make it even better, this year I got to experience it as the 2010 Indiana Dairy Princess. First, I had the privilege of helping hand out ribbons and welcoming everyone to both dairy shows during the State Fair this year. I was also able to attend one of the milking events where we taught the public about the milking process and allowed them to ask questions about it and dairy cows in general. Every day at the state fair, I met and interacted with many new people who share a love for the dairy industry and try a variety of dairy products, like fried butter. For example, I attended the ice cream crank off in the Pioneer Village and taste-tested all of the different homemade ice cream flavors, like chocolate covered strawberry. Yum!

            Not only did I get to experience that event, but I also welcomed and educated the public about the importance of consuming three servings of milk and other dairy products every day while standing outside of the Dairy Bar. I was handing out “I love milk” stickers to kids when an adult asked if she could have some to take home to her grandchildren. This is when I thought of the idea to propose her with a DAIRY question to make her earn the stickers

Elles & Buttercup in the daily State Fair parade.

while engaging her dairy knowledge. It actually turned into a fun game for those waiting in line, while also getting them involved and testing their knowledge one person at a time J . The Dairy Bar also provided me with plenty of milk shakes and grilled cheese sandwiches to keep me on my feet, especially for the evening parade. In the parade, I rode the float with my side kick, Buttercup the Cow. It was probably my favorite part of the State Fair because people knew we were promoting the dairy industry with our logo “Winners Drink Milk.”

            The whole fair experience was great, and I probably had my picture taken over twenty times. I know that there were many girls there who dream of becoming the Indiana Dairy Princess when they get older. Even though you may think I helped the public become more knowledgeable about the dairy industry, I believe this was a great learning experience for me. I only showed Holstein cows and heifers at my county fair, so this opportunity gave me the chance to learn many valuable things about judging different dairy breeds and the specific details judges look for in larger shows like that at the State Fair. I enjoyed my experience greatly and hope to see many more people at Kelsay Farms on October 23rd, where I will next be seen following through with my legend!

Local Cheeses Well Represented in Indiana!

Cheese and wine just make everything better!  Don’t you agree?  Before I came to the American Dairy Association of Indiana (ADAI), I enjoyed many imported cheeses made from a variety of animal milks, such as the creaminess of the buffalo mozzarella, the sharpness of aged goat cheese, and the saltiness of sheep’s milk feta. Each has their own history and culture.

The longer I work at the ADAI; I get to enjoy more domestic cheeses, rich in heritage, flavor, and passion.  Yes, passion.  I have even had the opportunity to help develop the Gouda that is sold during the Indiana State Fair.  It is made by Swissland Dairy which is owned and operated by Mary and Kirk Johnson Berne, Indiana.  Using this delicious, creamy, buttery cheese on grilled cheese sandwiches at the fair has allowed thousands to enjoy a new cheese variety that can be easily added to their home menu in salads, sandwiches, appetizers, pizzas and on the grill! 

Deutsch Kase Haus is another local Dairy that prepares the Dairy Bar’s staple of Colby at the Indiana State Fair!  The ‘mini horns,’ as they are called, arrive and are sliced almost immediately because we can’t wait to get that first taste!  It’s golden color and mild taste when joined by wheat bread is a perfect adult version of the grilled cheese sandwich.  Some of you may also be familiar with their luscious butter cheese or veggie cheese.  It’s just another Hoosier secret you will want to learn more about while traveling Indiana this Fall.

Fair Oaks Farms has pepper Harvarti cheese which is just fabulous.  Using their own award winning recipe, they have created a cheese that is incredible with salads, potatoes, grilled steaks, or simply with wine and fresh bread!  If you are traveling North or South on I-65, this is definitely a must taste!

Indiana truly has its share of Hoosier cheeses as there are many local cheese makers creating fine artisan products that are available locally and online.  Some of the farmers markets also have a wonderful variety of choices to enjoy. 

What is your favorite domestic cheese? If it is locally made, who is your favorite cheese artisan?

Day on a Local Dairy Farm

By: Anna Armstrong and Sarah Mosier, Purdue Dietetic Interns

            Last week we had the opportunity to visit Kelsay and Sons Dairy Farm in Whiteland, Indiana. This local dairy farm is just outside Indianapolis off of I-65 South. They work hard to not only run an efficient operation but make the public feel welcome on their farm, as well. They love teaching consumers about agriculture, food production, and what farmers do to care for their animals. It was a neat experience to learn about how a dairy farm actually operates and is managed. Liz Woodruff was our tour guide for the day. She showed us the barns where the cows live as well as where the baby cows (e.g. calves) are born, the milking parlor, and the milk holding tank.

            Kelsay Farms is a unique dairy operation because they grow all of their own feed. They plant crops in the Spring, grow them all Summer, and then harvest them in the Fall. All of which are then used to feed their cows for the rest of the year. This takes special coordination to manage growing crops and taking care of 500 cows. Each lactating cow is milked three times a day around the clock. When the cows aren’t in the milking parlor they live a pampered lifestyle in three different barns with automatic misters, all the food they can eat, sawdust beds, and a constant supply of water. Cows don’t like to be hot in the summer or cold in the winter so they are kept in a temperature-regulated barn throughout the year. It was evident that this keeps them happy and healthy as we watched the cows resting and socializing with one another.

            We also learned that cows are very habitual creatures, and when their routine is disrupted their milk production decreases. Therefore, the barns are monitored and regulated so that the cows are always comfortable. The milk that is produced at the Kelsay and Sons Dairy Farm is sent down to Dean’s Dairy in Louisville, Kentucky. Throughout the year they open up their facilities to group tours. Then, in the fall, they have a corn maze, pumpkin patch, hay rides, and other fun activities for all age groups. These Fall activities begin October 2nd at noon. So, gather up your family and head out to Kelsay Farms, just like we did! More information, an event schedule, and pictures of this LOCAL dairy farm are found at www.KelsayFarms.com.

Greetings from Northern Indiana Dairy Country!!

Sure seems odd to be blogging about water use when things are so very dry here right now!!  I water only 5 pots of flowers by the house here – even though things look so rough!  Neighbors’ crop field irrigation systems have been going on a frequent basis this summer.  This spring sure seemed like it could never get wetter – all of our crops were delayed by the wet and cool spring that we experienced!  Now they are drying too fast! It was so cool that my children (ages 9 + 12) and I didn’t even swim in the neighbor’s pool till late July – and now the summer is almost over – boo! 

We milk around 60 cows and our milk is sold through MMPA (Michigan Milk Producers Association) – a cooperative that services the needs of almost 2000 dairy farmers of Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.  They are wonderful! 

Every day we practice water conservation on our farm! Our cows drink about a bathtub of water every day. The cow’s water comes from the same well that provides my family with our drinking water! So water is a big piece of their budget! What they drink goes in and around the cycle of milk production – what is good for the cows is good for us, you, me and our children, in the way of a wholesome, nutritious, safe, dairy product!!  Nowhere can you get such a wonderful food for your family!  

  • Economical (Price the nutrition per dollar yourself!)
  • Nutritious (Can you believe all that is available in one serving of dairy?)
  • Safe (Dairy foods are one of the most regulated foods) 
  • Delicious (milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese and ice cream!)
  • Healthful (Have you seen the research that deals with chocolate milk as an after sport recovery drink – or dairy’s position in weight loss?)

Each day we wash the equipment that milks our cows – twice a day.  That water is used or recycled at least 3 times. Once to wash the equipment, once to wash the floor, walls and equipment in the milking parlor, and once to fertilize our fields, for crop production. We have a filter strip, which is a strip of grass that helps to filter out sediment along the lane of our farm.

The kids help recycle water by watering the sheep’s pasture with the water from the calf buckets and using any of the animals’ old drinking water to water flowers. They also would love to be able to conserve water by following an old saying, “yep, we shower once a month, whether we need it or not!”…..  🙂

Remember, our family lives on the same ground that produces your wonderful, healthy milk supply!!  Enjoy! 

– Sue and family