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Health and wellness webinar increases the perception of dairy’s environmental responsibility

May 29, 2024


2 minute read

In late March 2024, Midwest Dairy hosted the first of four webinars targeting health and wellness thought leaders, “Beyond the Garden: Empowering Patients to Embrace Plant-Forward Eating.” The webinar featured Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD, a Kansas-based and nationally recognized food and nutrition expert, and Joan Maxwell, a fifth-generation Iowa-based dairy farmer and 2019 US Dairy Sustainability Award winner.

In 2023, Midwest Dairy conducted a thought leader perception survey with Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), revealing that health and wellness thought leaders in Midwest Dairy’s 10-state region view dairy’s nutritional contribution positively, but nearly half of respondents rated dairy’s environmental responsibility as average or poor. This webinar aimed to attract the “moveable middle,” who likely rated dairy as average or poor because they may not know that dairy farmers are excellent stewards of the environment. These thought leaders also indicated that webinars are their preferred method for continued education.  

Health and wellness professionals regularly field questions about diet, and many of their clients make food choices based on what they believe is more environmentally sustainable. By building knowledge and trust among these thought leaders, we can ultimately build trust with the consumers they reach in their daily interactions.  

To that end, Cara presented about overcoming common challenges to plant-forward eating, such as accessibility, affordability, and ensuring nutrient adequacy. While highlighting these challenges, Cara showcased dairy as an accessible, affordable, and nutritionally adequate solution. She also featured several plant and dairy recipes. Following Cara, Joan presented on the US Dairy commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050, the FARM program. She showcased her own farm to highlight cow care, upcycling, and other practices she uses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The webinar received overwhelmingly positive feedback and impressive pre- and post-survey results. The survey results indicate that this is an effective way to increase the positive perception of dairy’s role in a sustainable food system.

To view the webinar, click here.