The only thing I like almost as much as food is running. I discovered my passion for running when I moved to Pittsburgh for school and was eager to explore the nooks and crannies my new city had to offer. I could head out towards one direction or another and may not be back for hours, very much like my time as a kid that I spent at the barn. During my childhood, my exposure to agriculture was mainly through my love of horses, which constantly drew me to the farmlands of Ohio. I have so many fond memories of galloping bareback through harvested corn stalks with my best friends and learning how to drive a tractor. Combining my knowledge of sports and wellness nutrition as both a dietitian and athlete along with my sentimental ties to the agriculture industry has always been a dream of mine. Working for The Dairy Alliance as the newest registered dietitian makes that dream come true.
I spent my first day with The Dairy Alliance in North Carolina. During this trip, I participated in a media training for dietitians and professors from across the Southeast. My favorite part of the trip was visiting my first dairy farm, White Rock Farms in Peachland, NC. As soon as we walked into the barn, there was a large glass window showcasing all the cows being milked on impressive carousel machinery. I was delighted to see how eager the girls (cows) were to get onto the carousel to be milked.
Despite the Southern heat, the inside of the cow barn was very comfortable thanks to open siding and enormous fans overhead. Much to my surprise, the cows were not the typical black and white, but rather shades of brown. I later learned these types of cows are called Jersey, which produce milk with a higher fat content than their black and white Holstein counterparts. We also got to see and learn about the calves, which are well cared for through individualized selection of colostrum and clean living spaces to minimize the need for antibiotics.
What I found most interesting on my visit are the advanced sustainable practices used by dairy farmers. Just a few of the things we saw were no till farming, recycling of water, reuse of manure as fertilizer for the crops, and the cow’s diet. Did you know 80 percent of the foods they eat cannot be digested by humans?
As a registered dietitian, I know dairy foods provide high-quality protein and nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. The necessary nutrients that dairy foods provide to our diet cannot be understated. Americans are not only concerned about the impact their diet has on their health, but also the impact their diet has on the health of the environment and the health of the animals involved.
I am grateful to have started my career at The Dairy Alliance with a farm tour. It has left me inspired to share the benefits of dairy and the practices that occur at dairy farms.