Marking Brexit – A Snapshot of Change in a Milkshed Supper


“Brexit,” an election in which the United Kingdom voted to secede from the European Union, is a day of historic proportions.  While voting took place  on Thursday, June 23, 2016, so many people voted, and the vote was so close that results were not known stateside until early in the wee hours of the morning on Friday, June 24th. The media went into a tailspin, and the financial markets had a pretty rough day.  Nothing knew when change happens.

To mark this occasion, it just seemed appropriate that a simple summer supper, highlighting a UK-US milkshed,  was the most perfect end to this very unique 24-hours in history.  And eventually, we’ll know the effects of this vote on the global milkshed.

The Dairy Dollar$ at stake?  In a  June, 2015 report, the United Kingdom was ranked  10th in the world market, projected to have a global $442.3 Billion value by 2019.   Germany and France, also members of the EU, are ranked 5th and 7th respectively.  Additional information about the EU dairy profile and output is here.   A 2013 article ranks the world’s top 20 countries. (Note: since this is 2013, there may be some slight changes, but this should be a good overview.)

The complexities of this day of Brexit, with geopolitical implications on all fronts, have been enough to make one dizzy with pundits on radio, television, and on social media weighing in on every angle possible – some of them spoke from a knowledgeable aspect. Some weighed in just to be saying something, and were grasping at straws, verging on ridiculous.  The smart ones were saying ‘we’ve never seen anything like this, but changes will be coming, and we’ll have to wait to see what they are.’

My opinion:  I don’t live in the United Kingdom, so it’s really improper for me to comment one way or the other on what was the right thing to do, or to speculate on the short- or the long-term implications, or what effect this will have on an American election later this fall.  It is far too early to know any of that, no matter how learned one is, or how many charts or polls are floating around on any form of social media.

However, I deeply admire and respect a people who voted of their own free will for change they felt was necessary – no doubt, driven by an undercurrent of discontent because of what they were experiencing in their everyday lives.  I cherish a form of government which allows those free-will votes, and allows the people to determine their fate. It was a close vote. Time will tell if that was a right vote, or not.

Because my roots – several generations back –  trace back to Scottish immigrants,, who, driven by their own sense of discontent, came to the US, I am interested in how it all settles out. That knowledge will come in due time.

My head was spinning with all the news, so a walk in a country lane with a far more simple purpose in mind was the perfect way to clear my head.

The sweet corn patch was sending an ‘I’m getting close to being ripe’ signal with rustling silks that were turning an inviting form of brown.  I’d been watching them for a few days, wondering ‘when?’  I couldn’t wait any longer, and came to the house with about a half-dozen ears just to check.

There’s nothing quite like the first ears of sweet corn out of a corn patch in any season.  The long wait over the winter – a dreary drought of corn-on-the-cob for a maize purist – only makes the anticipation that much harder to endure.  The mildly sweet flavor, not quite fully developed, that is enhanced with butter and salt.  Not manna – but oh, so close!

On this day of all days,  I couldn’t help but think about all of the changes this modern world has brought. That American grown corn is a variety called Obsession (yes, it’s a GMO sweet corn, a nod to safe food science with some weed control thrown in.)  And it’s wonderful.  And I feel very, very comfortable eating it.

The European Union is a big player in the world dairy marketplace.  The United Kingdom, in a June, 2015 report was ranked 10th in world production.

I had Kerrygold, an Irish butter I’m quite fond of, in the fridge, so that was the creaminess which buttered my corn tonight.  The plate?  Spode china, made in England, in a pattern called Milkmaid.  [The china was largely purchased at the American discount chains TJ Maxx and Tuesday Morning, retailers who source from all around the world.)  And the salt – from a Morton shaker, source unknown.

The best statement summing up Brexit and dairy came from Dr. Judith Bryans, Chief Executive of Dairy UK.  As reported in a Dairy Reporter article, she said:

“Dairy UK did not take a side in this debate because we knew regardless of the result, we would continue to operate in a global dairy marketplace and demonstrate our unwavering commitment to give the public nothing but the best of UK dairy.”
Dr. Judith Bryans, Chief Executive of Dairy UK

I’m betting that statement applied not only to dairy, but to other product sectors as well.

If the products are good enough, the market will get them to us.  The  UK has plenty of wonderful dairy products with storied reputations – Stilton and KerryGold are two – and the players in the marketplace will keep those trade pipelines open.

Some lines of farm equipment, also part of the global #milkshed, will be affected.  #McHale Hay Balers, made in Ireland, used by a lot of farms shipping to Kerrygold, and now imported into the United States, are one of the best hay balers I’ve ever seen operate.  An ag supply company I’m associated with  is now a dealer.  There may not be some changes in their availability, or there might be.

Whatever changes, even if there are any, will be dealt with by each company and distributors along the supply line.  The market will find a way to make it work.

In the meantime, I don’t plan on getting caught up in the flurry of ‘what ifs’ and ‘the sky is falling’ and ‘oh my goodness, folks got tired of the way things were going, and look what they did!’  No time for that, and very little that can be done to control it.

If you wish to read more of the early speculations about Brexit in general and food implications,  here are some suggestions:

1.) For “Brexit 101,” a general background of events that led to Brexit

2.)  For “What Happens Next,”  an explanation of what and when (Note: this is a process that will take several years.)

And please check back, I’m likely going to add some links here just to keep all of the appropriate Brexit information consolidated.

So for now, I’m going to work on things I can have more control over than Brexit speculation and fear-mongering.  I will eat more sweet corn, on English serveware, slathered with Irish butter.  Maybe not a celebration exactly, but this is a summer of history, which needs recognized.  I can  make sure that some of that corn gets into a freezer, or sold, or given to a few select individuals, and that I get some writing tasks and projects completed

The global milkshed is a part of a global economy.  That is a fact.  What is also a fact is that within that global economy, individual nations can change how they participate in that global economy, and Great Britain has done just that.

There’s always a big picture, and always a smaller snapshot, right in front of our face. The big picture sometimes changes that smaller snapshot, more immediately felt by an individual, and sometimes it doesn’t.  In the case of Brexit, we just don’t know yet.

I’m not going to let fear of change  – or what ‘may’ happen – ruin my summer, or my year. In fact, sometimes the greatest growth comes with change. We are all blessed to be witness to this historic transition.





#NationalHugABaristaDay; Hugging Bovine Baristas!

Who even knew there was a #NationalHugABaristaDay?   By Twitter algorithms, it’s today, June 11th!  (Don’t you just love the twitterverse we live in?)

So I’m celebrating with a post about two of my favorite things – cows and coffee!  (I just love bovine baristas, don’t you?)

How many of you have tried Caribou Coffee’s Premium Iced Coffee Beverage, a new and super-dairylicious, milk-based, caffeinated,  taste-bud sensation?  The first day I found it, May 15, at a Dollar General in East TN,  I was inspired to at least do a post for Facebook:


And on that very same day, a dairy industry colleague, Sherry Bunting, picked me up for a short ride down to a farm on the NC-SC border. (Sherry was delivering a goat her daughter had sold to a SC #farmHer – perhaps another blog post in the making!)

Being the curious dairy industry communicators we are, and because Sherry needed caffeine for a long drive on down to Texas, we ended up at another Dollar General in Chesnee, SC.  We were SO GLAD (and kind of amazed at the karma involved at the timing of all this) when we found the same calcium-coffee concoction in that cooler.


Dean Foods, one of America’s largest dairy processors, has developed and is distributing the beverage in a joint venture with Caribou Coffee.  Announced to be available by March, 2016,  this was the first day (May 15th) either of us had found it on a retail shelf.   Result: Two very excited Caribou Dairy beverage fans in one day!

Now – as to the #MILKSHED involved (all known from the information on a label):

These bottles were processed at a Dean Foods plant in Riverside, Ca, (Code #06-128), with the milk most likely originating from California herds. (Note:  educated guess based on milk transport and CA’s huge dairy cow presence and milk production, but not for sure known.)  It’s also a guess that this plant had the specialized equipment available needed to produce such a delightful product on a large basis. Dean Foods, because of its size and nationwide network, has the built-in distribution system required to bring the product to retail outlets across the country, in a cost-effective manner.

Even the labels are of a ‘new age.’

Many consumers, myself included, have been frustrated because ‘serving size’ didn’t necessarily match ‘container size.’  However, in this case, a shout-out to Dean Foods and Caribou for going a step further, and putting both ‘serving’ and ‘bottle’ size on the label!


As for the nutrition, USDA is in the process of writing new label standards, and it appears that ‘added sugars’ will have to wait for a bit to be included.  If you are a diabetic or watching sugar intake, realize you must balance this aspect with other parts of your daily diet.

And lastly, the label engages one with a delightful message:  on this label of Sea Salt Caramel flavor, the message is “JUMP into life!  Just make sure the cap’s on tight first!’, then followed by some wordplay. Lessons in life, and lessons in marketing, too!  The messages differ for different flavors (Sea Salt Caramel, Chocolate Mocha, and Vanilla), so I’ll encourage you to go try some for yourself!



Why is this Tennessee-southern gal OK with buying a drink made with milk from cows in California?  Several reasons apply:

  1. I have dairy friends in California, and they are experiencing an extremely challenging on-farm low price cycle as this is written. Anything that will help them move milk for new uses is very exciting.
  2. Dean Foods has several plants in the southeast, and if this beverage meets with widespread acceptance, then it means financial stability for Dean Foods in general, and that will benefit Dean plants across the country.  That’s good for both dairy farms and milk plants across the country.
  3. Any new product or beverage that helps sell milk in general is great!  Coffee drinks in the past few years have proven to be a big boost for dairy farms and milk consumption in general, and we cows and people in the dairy industry really appreciate that!  So many THANKS to all you lovers of Lattes, and Champions of Cappucino!
  4. I’ll keep buying regular milks produced by the cows in my neighborhood and processed at the local milk plants near me  – I’m a great believer in local food systems, and make a conscious effort to support that belief with my dollars.  However, a locally processed dairy beverage of this type is not conveniently  and readily available at the current time, in the paths where I most often travel.  There is a local processor who does make a similar product, and it is wonderful, but it’s often sold out on delivery!

For now, I think I’m going to heed that message of “JUMP,”  and go JUMP in the car, and find some of that Caribou Iced Coffee on this hot June afternoon!  I’ll be going to a Dollar General store, because I know that’s where I can get this in my small town.  Look for this at a retailer near you – you’ll be glad you did!

Have a dairylicious #NationalHugABaristaDay!  Party till those Cows Come Home!


Drink Up! MILK is Official! June Dairy Month is Here!


June Dairy Month is off to a Jumping Start!  It’s time to toast and drink up MILK’s goodness in every facet of the Worldwide Milkshed!

Please join this young farming couple, Tyler and Alli Davis Kamper, of Tennessee (with some Virginia, NC, and California thrown in) in a toast to:

  • Cows
  • Farmers
  • Processors
  • Retailers & Restaurants
  • Consumers – and
  • Agribusinesses who serve farmers, & the lands which take care of those farmers
  • And the jobs and economic activity nourished by milk!

Most dairy industry folks have been really busy with celebrations of all sorts in the past couple days, this writer included, so this post is going to be brief.  The photograph above hits a lot of notes common to today’s milk markets – young farmers, coast-to-coast connections of dairy people, corporate business, and precious soils; all those aspects of any milkshed.

Today, I want to celebrate 20 very special states – states who have designated MILK as their OFFICIAL BEVERAGE!  Is your state on this list?


I was delighted to wake up to a breakfast bar this morning featuring this sight – a refrigerator full of dairy products, which in itself is a celebration of the Worldwide Milkshed.


Every product in this fridge in Cookeville, TN is an illustration of the Dairy Industry’s collective scope:

  • Hampton in Cookeville, TN  (this is a traveling society, myself included!)
  • Yoplait Yogurt processed in one of the world’s largest yogurt plants in nearby Murfreesboro, TN (both the Greek and the regular yogurt)
  • Prairie Farms milk bottled in Somerset, KY  – milk from farmers I know in KY and a milk cooperative based in the Midwest.
  • Dannon Oikos Yogurt processed in Utah, and likely sourced from a single farm contracted to Dannon / Danone (a French global dairy giant)
  • Jobs for processors, marketers, farmers, and truck drivers all along that path!

And no June Dairy Month ‘first post’ is complete until we recognize the bovine ladies who make this month possible – the cows themselves.  Milk, that wonderful elixir of nourishment and great taste, comes from a variety of breeds who due to a gene package from the Good Lord above can process almost any feedstuff into creamy, delicious milk – HE does provide!  And from that white milk a huge economic chain is launched that provides jobs and feeds economies in a very big way.

See you later – I’m off to another Cow Celebration!


Drink up the Magic of Milk with Tyler and Alli!