Every June since 1937, Americans have celebrated hardworking dairy farmers during National June Dairy Month with an extra glass of milk, cheese pizzas, and all kinds of delicious ice creams. What’s not to love about those options? Dairy farmers help keep a lot of people happy.
It’s no secret that the dairy industry has been struggling for the past few years with over-efficiency, causing increased supply as fluid milk sales, and now dairy exports, have decreased. It’s not all bad news, though! People are consuming more butter, cheese and other dairy products than in recent years. We’ve seen time and time again that today’s consumers are more interested in learning where there food is coming from. With these trends in mind, more and more farmers are diversifying their operations in some pretty neat ways.
You scream, I scream, we all scream for (local) ice cream! If you’re looking for creamy flavors and maybe some taste bud adventures while supporting local agriculture, chances are you may be able to find a dairy that is processing and selling their own ice cream. Around the Maryland/Virginia/D.C. area, Rocky Point Creamery and Misty Meadows Farm Creamery are two great choices for homemade ice cream. Some, such as Homestead Creamery, may also offer their ice cream for purchase in bulk in grocery stores. The Maryland Department of Agriculture developed the Maryland Ice Cream Trail for you to follow along and hit all the creameries in the state! Most of the places included elsewhere in this article make ice cream along with their other specialties, so keep reading…
If you consider yourself more of a cheese connoisseur than an ice cream buff, fear not because dairy farmers are also exploring the art of cheese making. Whether from cow’s or goat’s milk, raw or pasteurized, and from any one of a number of flavors, there’s a cheese for everyone. Just look at the eight diverse flavors sold around the Delmarva area with the Chapel’s Country Creamery logo. Their cheeses are made from milk from their Holstein and Jersey cattle, and range from a beer-washed cheddar to a soft brie. Palmyra Farm Cheese offers nine different flavors of cheddar for sale at local businesses and events. Cheeses can add fresh flavor to even the simplest grilled cheese or mac and cheese recipe!
If you’re just looking to stick to the basics, more farms are processing and bottling their own milk. These are sold on the farm or in grocery stores – sometimes in exciting flavors like orange creamsicle! You can often find these products in the glass bottles of your dairy case if they’re available. Duchess Dairy and Homestead Creamery in Virginia, South Mountain Creamery in Maryland, and Shatto Milk Company in Missouri are just a few examples of dairies taking matters into their own hands. Shatto, South Mountain, and Homestead even have home delivery programs for certain areas of their communities. It’s never been easier to down some dairy!
Right on the Farm
When all of these local products make you curious as to exactly how they’re produced, you can take a trip to some farms that are regularly open to the public with organized tours and events. Misty Meadows can be a great place for a family trip, with plenty of food, animals and activities like hayrides! South Mountain Creamery is open to self-guided tours any day of the week; if you’re there around 4 p.m. you can even bottle feed a calf! Scheduled school tours are also becoming an exciting field trip for lots of youngsters.
As the weather warms up, farm-to-table events swing back into season, just in time for June Dairy Month. These meals allow guests to learn about the process of farming while dining right where food is grown! You can ask your local extension office for details on any upcoming events in your area. There’s so much more to the dairy industry than just the plastic jugs of milk at the grocery store. Many of the places I’ve mentioned balance more than one dairy food in addition to other farm products or services. That makes for plenty of options for fresh, fun food–and that’s something to raise a glass to!
Happy June Dairy Month!