National Dairy Month has been celebrated since June of 1939.  I have been celebrating it since 1969, when I was born to a dairy farmer.

Dairy cows are my earliest memory.  They were a way of life for my family, and the way my parents provided an income for us.  When I was a teenager, I do admit I resented having to help milk cows instead of having a “real” part- time job.  Now, I would not take anything for the experience I had helping with the family dairy.

2019 Mississippi Dairy Facts:

  • There are 72 dairy farms in the state.
  • A typical Mississippi dairy farm has about 130 milking cows.
  • Mississippi is home to about 9,000 dairy cows.
  • In 2018, 99 percent of all milk produced was used and consumed in the form of fluid milk.
  • Each dairy cow in Mississippi provides and average of 1, 667 gallons of milk a year.

Dairy Nutrition:

Milk is best known for providing calcium for strong bones and teeth.  Yet it does so much more for people in all walks of life. Dairy products are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, including carbohydrates, protein, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamins A, D, B12, riboflavin and niacin.   Now you can understand why just one 8-ounce serving of milk, which has 8 grams of protein, can easily help the body build and repair muscle tissue.

Milk Storage:

Milk should be kept refrigerated to maintain its safety.  The cooler milk is kept, the longer it will last.  Milk will last up to two weeks when properly refrigerated.  

Milk should be stored at temperatures between 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit to maximize freshness.  Milk should not be kept at room temperature.   

The sell-by date on the carton is the last day the grocery should sell the milk.  You can still use it up to one week past the sell by date if it is properly refrigerated.  Bring it home from the store and promptly refrigerate on the bottom shelf to keep it as cold as possible.  Pour milk to be used immediately and return the container to the refrigerator.

Ways to add dairy to your diet:

Make a smoothie by blending in your favorite fruit with milk.

Make an omelet for breakfast by whisking eggs with milk.   Just cook on the stovetop with chopped meats and veggies.

Make pudding and hot cocoa with milk.

Substitute milk for water in boxed mac and cheese.

Get creative with yogurt:

Yogurt is a great way to incorporate dairy into your diet.  It is delicious and versatile.  Yogurt provides protein for building lean muscles, calcium for strong bones, riboflavin for a healthy central nervous system, and potassium for helping regulate body fluids.

Try yogurt in dips like hummus.  Make a dressing for your salad with yogurt.  Use Greek yogurt as a topping for your tacos, potatoes, or pancakes.  Incorporate yogurt into smoothies for added protein. 

You may also want to whip up some Berry Blast Offs, a recipe from www.happyhealthy.extension.msstate.edu .

Berry Blast Off

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup low-fat granola
  • 1 cup blueberries or other fruit
  • 1 cup plain or vanilla, low-fat yogurt

Directions:

  1. Begin with four small glasses or clean wide-mouth jars.
  2. Wash your hands well with soap and hot water.
  3. Wash all fruit with cool water. Drain in a colander.
  4. Cut the strawberries into pieces.
  5. Put ¼ cup of strawberries into the bottom of each glass.
  6. Sprinkle ¼ cup of granola over the strawberries in each glass.
  7. Add ¼ cup of blueberries on top of the granola.
  8. Spoon ¼ cup of yogurt on top of the blueberries.
  9. Garnish with fresh fruit or granola (optional).
  10. Serve.
  11. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

I hope you will try this cool dairy treat on a hot summer day, and when you do…thank a dairy farmer!

The information for this column came from https//:thedairyalliance.com .

Editor's note: This is the last column that Beth Youngblood will write for the Pontotoc Progress. She is leaving to go to other endeavors. Here is her tender goodbye.

Just like there was a time I left the dairy farm to move on to the next part of my life, this month is the time I will be leaving Mississippi State University Extension.  I will retire at the end of June.  In my 25 years with Extension I have served in four counties plus my time teaching in the classroom.  

I could write a newspaper full of the joys I’ve had working with people throughout those counties, and while I am grateful for every county I’ve served in and the people of these counties, Pontotoc is a truly special place filled with wonderful people who continue to grow in love for one another.  

While August would’ve been my four year anniversary here, it’s amazing how the great people and county of Pontotoc made me feel a strong bond and will hold a special place in my heart always.

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