Growing up in the Suburban Washington, DC area, I rarely had the chance to see a farm. But now, as a registered dietitian, I recognize how important it is to see where our food comes from. So when the Southeast Dairy Association invited me to tour Glo-Crest Dairy in Clermont, GA, I eagerly jumped at the opportunity.
Touring the Glover family farm reinforced my perception that dairy farming is hard work done by passionate farmers who care about their animals and providing quality food for the public. After all, cows are similar to the athletes that I counsel. They are high-performance athletes who produce day in and day out. Their animal nutritionist keeps detailed records for each cow that includes their health, milk production, and even happiness.
However, unlike most humans, cows actually prefer a monotonous diet. They eat around 125 pounds of food each day and wash it down with between 30 and 75 gallons of water, depending on the season. Each meal contains a mix of grains, cottonseed, soybean meal, corn and citrus peel, which provides the perfect ratio of nutrients for optimal health and milk production. They are fed fresh feed twice per day and the nutritionist uses multiple diets for different stages of the cow’s life.
If you’ve never been to a dairy farm, I encourage you to visit a dairy farm near you. Milk is one of the most regulated foods in the country. There are checkpoints at every step during production to ensure the milk that you consume is safe, nutritious, and tastes great. And I’m so thankful for all of the dairy farmers. They work 365 days a year just like their cows. It’s a tough job, but one they embrace because they are passionate about their animals and the quality of their products.
Marie Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD
Marie is nutrition communications expert and one of the country’s leading sports nutritionists. Spano has appeared on NBC, ABC, Fox, and CBS affiliates, and authored hundreds of magazine articles and trade publication articles, written book chapters, marketing materials, and web copy on a variety of nutrition topics. She is co-editor of the NSCA’s Guide to Exercise and Sports Nutrition (Human Kinetics Publishers) and currently working on a second book. Spano is also a regular contributor to Food Product Design, Prepared Foods and FitnessRx for Women. She is the Sports Nutritionist for CES Performance and the Atlanta Braves – Minor Leagues.