A Milkshed of a TN Dogwood Winter

We’re back!

After a hiatus that was longer than it was meant to be; Milksheds Blog is back up and running. This post isn’t going to be real complicated –  just a quick reminder of what a milkshed is – courtesy of a cup of hot chocolate!

Today, in East Tennessee, despite sunny skies, we woke up to a rather chilly morning in our ‘Dogwood Winter’  – freeze and frost warnings were a forecaster’s Sunday morning hymn!

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And after church, there was still a chilly undertone, and a cup of hot chocolate was the perfect answer to warming my bones.

My general definition of a milkshed is “all of the elements that come together to bring any glass of milk or other dairy product from the cow to the consumer.”    The picture below is a ‘snapshot’ of almost everything in the economic chain that came together in that one very delicious cup of hot chocolate.

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In this area, Dean Foods has a big footprint, and the ag community is so glad to have them in East Tennessee and North Georgia, bottling under the national Dean brands of DairyPure and TruMoo, the beloved regional brand name of Mayfield, and several private labels for regional grocery chains and big box retailers.   The direct jobs at the processing plants in the Athens, TN and Braselton, GA communities are important to economic developers in each of those townships.

And the pride that is found regionally in that Mayfield brand and those plants can’t be measured!

But not often considered is the much wider impact those milk plants have as they drive the farming industry in this geographic corridor.  There are hundreds of dairy farms and thousands of cows that have a purpose and are sustained because of those milk plants.  And extended from that, hundred of row crop and hay farmers grow grains and hay that get milled into feed for those dairy herds. Even farmers outside the area benefit, because commodities find their way to feed mills in the area to get blended into TMRs for  those cows.  At some point, maybe some numbers can be put to that, sequence of farm economic events, but that will wait for another day.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention there are several other milk plants within a 150 mile radius that utilize ‘local’ milk, but we’ll discuss them on a future day.  Today, DairyPure was in my fridge, and thus in my hot chocolate.

As for the hot chocolate mix – I bought it because of the ‘milk bottle’ container originally, but wow, is it great!  It is made by Burnham & Mills in Vermont – if you’d like to order, try clicking on their name.

Milk is white, and looks simple.  But a milkshed can be far more complicated.  We’ll explore more – after I finish that cup of hot chocolate mix!  These chilly days won’t last long!  Until next time – drink a few gallons of milk in your milkshed!

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