Growing up in rural America I can’t imagine the world without dairy cows. Our family would make the weekly trip to our local dairy to pick up gallons of milk with the delectable cream on top. We made butter and ice cream in an old-fashioned churn. It was the most affordable and highly nutritious staple available and still is. Today some people feel our world would be better off without them. They have been lead to believe dairy cows produce the most Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions on the planet and we could substitute dairy products with other plant-based or laboratory-grown foods.
Not only does milk provide high-quality protein, but it contains essential nutrients including calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin A, potassium, riboflavin, niacin and phosphorus needed to help us live a healthier lifestyle. Plant-based beverages have additives to increase their nutritional value but do not provide the same natural mix of protein, nutrients and vitamins as milk. Dairy helps build strong teeth and bones, is great for brain health, keeps you hydrated, provides energy, is essential for lean muscle, and is great for vision and your immune system. Cows also provide beef protein with seven nutrients beneficial for overall health.
Let’s talk about sustainability. In the U.S., the transportation industry contributes 28% of GHG emissions compared to 2.7% from dairy. The dairy industry is committed to the environment, leading the way to reduce GHG to 0% in the coming years. Anaerobic digesters and the use of renewable energy play a huge part in helping to reduce dairy’s carbon footprint in the world. Anaerobic digesters convert manure from dairy cows to renewable energy for the farm and the surrounding communities as well as supply organic fertilizer (great for the garden), materials for building supplies, potting soil and animal bedding to name a few.
There are an estimated 130 million dairy farms throughout the world supporting the livelihood of millions of people from the farm to the factory to the table, all working towards making our planet a healthier place to live and providing the highest quality dairy products for generations to come.