People have been drinking milk for thousands of years. It’s often easy to forget that times have changed regarding food, especially when you think about refrigeration and electricity, or other modern conveniences we often take for granted. Especially prior to refrigeration, it helped boost nutrition where it was needed, as it had the year round ability of providing protein, calcium, calories, potassium, and more. Cheese and yogurt were ways to preserve milk, too. Think about it – living in a four season state as I do, winter comes and it’s not like you could wander out in the garden to harvest food back then. Storage of food was essential for survival. Now, we’re lucky that many of us focus on the taste, enjoyment, and fun of dairy foods instead of just thinking about survival.
Today is the start of Dairy Month and a nod to the importance of milk worldwide. My mom grew up on a dairy farm and we grew up learning and living the importance of a balanced diet with all five food groups. I had the pleasure of working for America’s dairy farmers for five years, and it was easy to do this knowing what I already did from my family, and through my training as a dietitian. Dairy is a nutrient rich food group, and dairy also supports one billion people worldwide (jobs/income), so whether you think about it as a person at home enjoying dairy, or you are a farmer (or both), dairy has so much to offer.