MERRY, DAIRY CHRISTMAS! HAPPY HANUKKAH!
“I live in Tennessee. I would like to buy milk and holiday eggnogs from Local Dairy Farms which are located close to me. How do I know that I know I’m doing that?”
Thanks to all of you who like to support your ‘local’ farmers, wherever you may live in the United States, Canada or the world! I believe it is important to support your local farm neighbors with purchases of their farm products, that’s a way to make sure you preserve a farming economy in any region of the country!
Since I live in Tennessee, and people know me as an enthusiastic dairy and milk agvocate, I often get asked ‘how do I know if I’m supporting local dairies?” Since it’s Christmas, I’ve focused on those delicious holiday beverages – eggnog and boiled custard – as a focal point for ‘supporting local.’ According to the Wall Street Journal, EggNog is pretty darn popular this holiday season!
The pictures found in this blog post are a quick visual guide to help you with grocery and retail purchases of eggnog and boiled custard, and the brands that do the most to support dairy farms and cows that live mostly in Tennessee, with some support of cows and farms in the neighboring states of GA, KY, and NC. I’ve been giving some as hostess gifts!
What is local to you is dependent on where you live, so look for the photo guides for East Tennessee and for a different one for the Nashville Metro Area, and Middle and West Tennessee. They are as follows:
If you live or shop in EAST TENNESSEE (from Chattanooga to Johnson City, generally east of the Cumberland Plateau) these brands do the most to support local farms:
If you live or shop in the NASHVILLE METRO area or WEST TENNESSEE (from the Cumberland Plateau through Middle Tennessee to the Mississippi River) these are the brands which do the most to support local farms:
In Tennessee, we are also fortunate to have two single-farm milk processors, also known as ‘farmstead processors,’ who make delicious eggnogs. These are Cruze Farm, in the Knoxville / East Tennessee metro area, (with a limited distribution to Asheville and Nashville to a limited number of stores), and Hatcher Family Dairy, who serves the Nashville Metro market from their farm in Cottage Grove.
These photos should be considered as generally correct, but may be affected by milk market needs on any given day! Have a Merry Dairy Christmas, made even better with LOCAL Egg Nog!
What are the general factors used in the development of these photo ‘Guides to Local Milk’?
- LOCAL: A travel distance of approximately 250 miles from farm to milk plant, and then to retailers within that same distance from the milk plant is how “LOCAL” is defined for the purposes of this post.
- FARMS: A milk brand / carton has to contain all – or a very high percentage – of milk that is produced on farms in Tennessee, or by farms in the neighboring states of GA, KY, AL, or NC. This is a primary criteria in knowing if your food purchase dollars go to support farms in close proximity to where you live. Widely available brands source milk from a number of farms, all of whom have to meet strict quality standards. These ‘widely available’ brands are extremely important because they support many local farms, and not just one. And, because of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance, a 398- page FDA regulation, consumers can be assured that all dairy farms from all states must adhere to strict national standards,and therefore the US Milk supply is the safest in the world!
- MILK PLANTS: Every carton of milk has a plant number somewhere on that carton. With a knowledge of plant numbers (found on every carton of milk sold at retail, then dairy industry associates have a pretty good idea of the farms whose milk is delivered to those plants. Just because a milk or dairy plant is located in the state of Tennessee, does not mean that the milk it purchases comes from Tennessee farms.
- BRANDS – commonly available at retail: The brands in these graphics are those commonly found at major food retailers or chains, and to a lesser degree, to smaller specialty food stores or restaurants in regions of the state. Grocery stores, ‘big box’ stores, convenience stores, dollar stores, and thrift stores have all been considered.
- METRO Centers / REGIONAL AREAS are the starting point in backtracking to where the farms are. The chain is this – Metro Center (a number of retail stores), to milk plant, and then back to the farms.
- JOBS generated at each level of the chain from farm to consumer:
- Farms, which in turn generate jobs on the farm and in agribusiness. Because dairy cows have the need for lots of different types of feed, local dairies also support local grain and hay farms as well.
- Transport jobs (a)- milk trucking companies which deliver milk to milk plants
- Milk plant – numbers of jobs at a milk processing center
- Transport jobs (2) – delivery trucks which deliver processed dairy products to stores and restaurants
- Food retailer jobs – any number of dairy case and restaurant jobs are involved in the final farm-to-consumer connection.