Do you know where milk comes from? There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes in the production of milk. What happens to milk before it gets to the store? How do you know if you are buying local milk?
Cows are generally milked two times a day. once in the morning, and once in the evening. The farmer will attach a milking machine to the cows udders in the milking parlor. During this time the cows are relaxed. The farmer makes sure the cows are very well taken care of.
The raw milk is sent to a milk tank (milk cooler) to cool it and keep it cold until the milk truck can pick it up from the farm and deliver it to a processing plant. There, the milk is pasteurized and homogenized.
To pasteurize the milk means to rapidly heat it up to 100° C or 212° Fahrenheit and then chill it to eliminate bacteria and make it safe to drink. Most processor plants also homogenize the milk. This means they break up the fat molecules in the milk into smaller units so that it does not collect at the top of bottles. If the milk is not homogenized, you have to shake the milk bottle so the fat isredistributed into the milk.
Milk processing plants also use milk to make other dairy products such as cheeses, ice cream, sour cream, cream cheese, and butter.
The containerized milk is shipped in refrigerated trucks from the milk processing plants to be distributed to stores. Stores put the products on the shelves and in the stores’ refrigerators for people to buy. Dairy products are best bought locally where they are the freshest and you can support local farmers.
Do you know how to tell if your milk was made locally? Look for the plant code on your milk carton or bottle. There will be two digits, then usually a hyphen followed by a five digit number, the two digit number should be 36 if the milk was made in New York.
You can help support Dairy Farmers by buying local Dairy foods! Make sure to get a little more dairy in your diet this month!