Originally, June became National Dairy Month to distribute milk during the warm months of summer. While dairy lovers know that a cold glass of milk is perfect on summer days, whether on its own or in a smoothie, others had little use for it. Without proper refrigeration, the hot months gave milk a short life. It was the rising popularity of refrigeration in home kitchens (and subsequent fall in home milk delivery) that provided an opportunity to promote milk as an option that could stay fresh in the heat. Thus, the commemoration was established in 1937 by grocer organizations sponsoring “National Milk Month,” but by 1939, June encompassed the entire food group and became the official “dairy month.”
So why did this month eventually honor dairy farmers and not just the food? It’s a recognition of milk’s benefits which are only available because of dairy farmers’ hard work. Trusted for decades, dairy farm families pride themselves on producing wholesome dairy foods that help families grow up strong and healthy, whether it’s the farmer’s own family or a family within the community. Since 1939, June’s National Dairy Month has encouraged families to make milk their beverage of choice based on its nutritional value. Low-lactose or lactose-free options allow most Americans to partake in the nutritional benefits of dairy. And with 13 essential nutrients, milk and other dairy products are an affordable option for families looking for healthy options.
So how can you celebrate National Dairy Month? The easiest way is to enjoy a glass of milk at mealtimes and include dairy in meals with these recipes, but these aren’t the only options. In the Southeast, dairy farm families often open their gates to visitors for tours, while local fairs and festivals offer taste testing and events featuring delicious dairy products. See what events are available in your local community. Virtual farm tours are also available through The Dairy Alliance, allowing families to get up close with the cows without leaving the comfort of their homes. However you celebrate, it’s a time of year to learn about dairy and dairy farming, recognizing the hard work of many farmers within the region.