Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Loco for Local Dairy

HildeI admit it: I am crazy for local milk. I love buying glass bottles from the farm stand down the road and drinking straight from the rim. I usually forget to return the bottles until the collection under my sink has become altogether unruly, but the ritual of buying and returning bottles has only strengthened my commitment to supporting local dairy farmers (plus the bottles make terrific vases!).

But supporting local dairy doesn't have to mean glass bottles from farm stands. Most grocery stores carry local or regional brands of milk, yogurt from nearby creameries, and cheeses from artisans in the area. The trick is to read a bit of the fine print and to buy the most wholesome, minimally processed products from as close to home as you can find. Doing so ensures a nutrient-rich boost to your body; it also means more of your food dollar is paying for products made from real, farm-fresh milk, not the milk substitutes or well-traveled imports that keep creeping onto our shelves.

Not sold? Here are five more reasons why you, too, should go "loco" for local dairy:
  1. Food quality – Local dairy is sold fresher (and tastier), with no need for preservatives or extensive processing for long-distance transport or to extend its life on the shelf.
  2. Community food security – If the ongoing dairy crisis continues much longer, we risk having entire states devoid of a single dairy farm. A stable network of local dairy farms is essential for communities to provide residents with access to safe, healthful food.
  3. Preservation of farmland and agricultural traditions – Local dairies dot the landscapes of many regions, and are a productive and beneficial way to preserve farmland, local modes of production and processing, and even unique locally adapted dairy breeds.
  4. Local jobs and economies – Supporting local dairies benefits local businesses used for farm inputs and services as well as those involved in processing and distribution, keeping more money circulating around the community.
  5. Dairy farmers rock! – If the dairy farmers in your area are anything like the dairy farmers here in New England, then they're some of the most good-hearted, hard-working, ingenious people you'll ever have the pleasure to meet. These folks give 110% every day to produce good food for our tables. When family farmers thrive, the very best of America thrives. What better reason is there than that to get out there and support your local dairy farmers today!
To help others locate fresh, family-farmed dairy in your area, leave a comment below about your favorite local dairy brands. The Eat Well Guide is also a great source for tracking down family-farmed options close to home.

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