This post is in partnership with Undeniably Dairy.
By Keri Glassman
People always ask, should I be eating dairy? The answer is a resounding YES. First off, milk is one of the most nutrient-dense things you can drink: you’ll score protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, plus vitamins A, D, and B galore. Dairy has also been shown to promote heart, bone, and gut health.
That’s why some of my favorite healthy foods happen to be in the dairy family: Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and string cheese are all solid snack options you can find in most grocery or convenience stores.
In this day and age, people are also concerned about the environmental impact of their food and beverage choices. That’s especially true as people are becoming increasingly interested in plant-based diets.
Well, the two can go hand in hand, and I’m happy to report that dairy farmers across the country have made a lot of strides in the environmental impact department, something I noticed firsthand during a recent visit to Ar-Joy Farms in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
The owners, Duane and Marilyn Hershey, were kind enough to give me a tour of their farm, home to 675 cows. Here are some things I learned during my visit:
Dairy farmers are innovative environmentalists.
Farmers are devising smart ways to use fewer resources. One of my favorites: Converting cow manure into renewable energy. The carbon footprint of a glass of milk is two-thirds less than it was 70 years ago, and thanks to new farming practices, dairy production requires 65 percent less water than it did in the 1940s—that’s major!
When you buy dairy products, you support local families.
About 95 percent of American dairy farms are owned and operated by families. Ar-Joy has been family-run since the eighties. Marilyn’s father, who is 91 years old, still makes the trip up the road at sunrise to feed and care for the calves.
The antibiotics issue is a myth.
Did you know it’s against the law to sell milk that contains antibiotics? It’s true. Even though cows indeed receive antibiotics when they’re sick, their milk is then pulled from the production cycle. If a milk carton is on store shelves, you can drink up knowing it passed all the antibiotic tests (and yes, there are tests—plural).
Looking for some new ways to cook with milk? Try these Veggie and Parmesan Mini Egg Muffins that combine the best of both the plant and dairy worlds.