Raise a Glass to Dairy Month!

Ellie Wilson, MS, RDN  Senior Nutritionist

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June 1st is a holiday for our dairy farmers – it is World Milk Day, and kicks off the annual celebration of Dairy Month and all that dairy brings us! Full of flavor and nutrients, packed with protein, familiar and affordable, wholesome dairy brings richness to so many foods. Across the Northeast, dairy is considered a unique “natural resource”, which supports healthy people, healthy communities and a substantial and sustainable positive impact on local economies. We use milk, yogurt, butter, and cheese to bake, batch, sip, and savor our way through delicious and nutritious meals and snacks. Welcome to Dairy Month, an annual national celebration of all that dairy brings us. There would be no dairy without dairy farming, which encompasses time-honored heritage and forward-thinking scholarship – this industry keeps innovating, and is full of hard working, passionate people that ensure animals have the best care, and milk is the highest quality. About 97% of dairy farms are family-owned, generation after generation that have moved the industry forward and treat animals, land and the future with reverence and respect. Dairy also delivers crucial nutrients – milk, yogurt and cheese contribute 51% of calcium and 58% of Vitamin D for just 10% of the calories in the overall American diet. The Great American Milk Drive also kicks off in our stores today – with a $1 or $5 donation at the register, you can join in and get milk to children and families that are less food secure. Check out our Facebook Live visit with our friends at Ivey Lakes Dairy in Stanley, NY, follow the blog, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram learn more about how fresh, nourishing dairy foods make their way from the farm to your table, and the delicious ways you can enjoy them. In case you couldn’t tell, we love dairy – Price Chopper and Market 32 are highlighting dairy and dairy case items all month – you will love the selection and the savings. Celebrate with us! PLANT1At Price Chopper and Market 32, we know one thing – making sure we have the best quality foods in our own brands brings value and enjoyment to our customers and communities. In business over 80 years, we also know that working with our local agricultural producers is a great way to deliver on that promise, and our PICS long process, naturally aged, award winning cheddar is a great example.   pics new york extra sharp cheddar cheese Did you know – the most popular cheese in America is cheddar? This spring, with friends from the American Dairy Association Northeast, I visited the cheese makers that create this wonderful cheese, and saw firsthand how hard they work to make it. We partner with Great Lakes Cheese Company, located in Adams, NY, in the heart of New York dairy country. They have been here over 40 years, and are committed to the New York North Country, so much so that they doubled production capacity in 2009. Experts that have crafted their process over time, they make several types here – mild, sharp, and extra sharp New York cheddar cheese to name a few. They also process the whey portion as part of sustainability efforts and for new product ingredient markets.   John Jennings, Plant Manager for over 40 years, and Nathan Pistner, Assistant Plant Manager, were proud to show us the inner workings of this modern facility, and most proud of their 122 employees. There is a lot of workmanship in this cheese – over 300 years of combined expertise on first shift alone!   cow1 By the numbers, they receive 2,500,000 pounds of high quality milk from local dairy farms like Murcrest Farms per day, which becomes over 87 million pounds of cheese per year. (Cheese heaven?!) The farms they work with must meet high standards for cow care. Like the farms, this is a 24- hour, 365 days per year operation – cows don’t take any days off. They use natural ingredients, and move the cheese through the process using air, to protect the curd integrity and texture. These steps ensure a premium, reliable, delicious cheese on your table every time! The tour showed us all of the work and time that goes into making this cheddar – there are quality tests built into every step, and they continue throughout the entire year of aging. Once they have the cheese in production, and process the whey, they turn the remaining liquid back into clean water that helps keep the plant clean – another sustainability process they are very committed to. Tradition and technology are part of making sure they are serving their own communities and partners well. You will be sure to enjoy these wonderful cheddars, as a great snack, or as part of a new recipe – check out the links below for some delicious ideas! http://pricechopper.com/recipes/7865/Jalapeno-Cheddar-Cheese-Corn-Muffins http://pricechopper.com/recipes/14338/Mini-Apple-Pies-with-Cheddar http://pricechopper.com/recipes/10988/Cheddar-Stuffed-Mini-Meatloaves-with-Chipotle-Glaze  – this would be a great stuffed burger, too! — Ellie Wilson, MS, RDN Senior Nutritionist