Growing up in big metropolitan cities, I rarely had the opportunity to see or visit any dairy farms. After moving to Tennessee to continue my nutrition education at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), I realized dietitians are linked to agriculture and must understand how food is grown and the farming methods used, so we can educate consumers. I was happy to learn my university offers food-sourcing education, which incorporates hands-on learning for students, while supplying nutritious foods and beverages to campus facilities.
Here at MTSU, students drink True Blue-branded milk bottled at our campus creamery. The creamery is completely staffed by students under the supervision of a trained manager. Our milk is produced on the university’s dairy farm and is transported daily to the creamery. I recently had the opportunity to visit both operations alongside other dietetic students.
At the creamery, I saw how raw milk undergoes pasteurization, which involves heating the milk to a high temperature, making it safe for human consumption.
On the dairy farm tour, I learned dairy cows eat about 100 pounds of feed a day! The farmer’s eyes lit up as he spoke about proper care and feeding of the pregnant cows and those that are milked. It was evident just how much care and responsibility are required to operate dairy farms.
Beyond the humane treatment, the MTSU Dairy Farm practices sustainable methods for a better environment. For example, it grows feed for the herd and collects and recycles the manure to fertilize the crops the cows eat.
As a future dietitian, witnessing first-hand what it takes to produce milk was extremely interesting. MTSU milk is produced using natural farming practices and has very few added ingredients. Milk is a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D, which fuels a busy college student like me. If you haven’t tried MTSU Dairy’s chocolate milk, you’re missing out!
Victoria Guentzel is finishing up her senior year in dietetics at Middle Tennessee State University. She is currently developing a wellness blog, The Nutrition Beat. She plans to complete a dietetic internship and obtain her master’s in public health with the hope of working in pediatric dietetics.