Farm to Table

Producing fresh, local, sustainable dairy foods

Milk, cheese and yogurt are some of the freshest and simplest foods we can include in our diets … and all three take just a few steps and a few hours to get from the dairy farm to your table. That’s because the dairy farms and farmers that produce them can be found near you – in all 50 states – making them truly a locally grown or produced food choice.

dairy farm to table

Fresh & Local

Some foods are only grown in certain areas of the country, but dairy is local and based in all 50 states. There are more than 50,000 dairy farms in the United States, including more than 8,000 here in the Midwest. In fact, milk’s journey from the farm to the grocery store takes only about two days! Not only is this journey fast and efficient, it enhances milk safety and quality – you can be sure that your grocer is selling dairy that’s very fresh. In these same two days, milk also makes its way to nearby school cafeterias, fueling kids with nutritious food and boosting the local economy. Many schools provide fun and educational activities for students to learn more about cow milk production and how dairy fresh food gets from the dairy farm to their lunch tray. Through Farm to School programs, everybody wins!

Take 48 seconds to watch the journey your milk makes — whether it’s to your grocery store or school — in 48 hours.

Real & Safe

There are countless choices in the dairy case, but with claims such as organic and antibiotic-free, how do you know what to choose?

Good news — all milk, as long as it is pasteurized, is wholesome, safe, nutritious and dairy fresh. That’s because all dairy farmers, regardless of their farms’ size or ownership, follow strict regulations and best practices in cow milk production for the health of their families, their cows, their neighbors and you!

Milk products go through pasteurization and homogenization before arriving in the dairy case. Safety is always of the utmost importance, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend drinking only pasteurized milk. Don’t fret, however, because “pasteurization does not significantly change the nutritional value of milk,” according to the CDC. It is still nutrient-rich and contains protein and carbohydrates.

Join Dr. Lloyd Metzger, a professor from South Dakota State University, as he walks through the rigorous steps farmers and dairy processors take in cow milk production to keep bacteria, antibiotics and other potential contaminants out of the milk supply.

Clean & Clear

For many consumers, understanding the journey their food takes from the farm to their table is as important as the taste and the nutrition of the food itself. A food is said to have a “clean label” when its label shares information about how it was produced on-farm and processed prior to arriving at the store. A clean label also means the food carries a short, understandable ingredient list. Nearly 30 percent of consumers say clean labels impact their purchases.

We recently surveyed Midwest dairy consumers and asked them if milk and dairy products delivers clean labels. Consumers noted the top two factors indicating a clean label to them were “no artificial ingredients/flavors/preservatives” and “ingredients easily read or recognized.” More importantly, these same consumers said milk and most dairy products provide these clean label benefits.

Using this same definition, milk and dairy products deliver clean labels far more than milk alternatives.

  • Milk has only three simple ingredients, while milk alternatives have eight to 12, including flavorings and stabilizers.
  • Milk takes only 48 hours to journey from the farm to the store — milk alternatives can take weeks.
  • Milk products go through pasteurization and homogenization to ensure safety and quality, but these processes don’t impact milk’s unmatched nutrition package of nine essential nutrients.

Click on the questions below to see what consumers like you know about dairy processing and nutrition and how all types of dairy are the clear choice for clean labels and unmatched nutrition.

Clean and Clear Video Shelf

Milk Processing Milk Ingredients Milk Alternatives Milks Equal Flavored Milk