Bloggers Hit Up Local Dairy Farm

“Do you know where your milk comes from?” Reads a brochure I picked up after I toured Prairieland Dairy in Firth, Nebraska, with a group of my coworkers. To be honest, I haven’t really thought about it other than, from a cow. Ultimately, I trust the system that brings the milk I buy to the grocery store. The tour of the operating dairy farm, helped me understand more about the process. Most of the milk that we buy in the grocery store comes from a combination of farms, and so ultimately, you don’t know exactly which farms your milk comes from. You should know that most of the milk sold in grocery stores is local, by this I mean that it travels less than 100 miles from farm to table.

If you do want to know exactly where you milk comes from, you can buy from a local dairy farmer at your community’s farmers market (avoid raw or unpasteurized milk  products as they can contain dangerous bacteria, which are responsible for many food-borne illnesses). Some dairy farms, such as Prairieland Dairy, do put their own label on the milk they produce. At Prairieland, a portion of their milk is sold under their name, ensuring that it is coming from only their farm. Currently, Prairieland Dairy is only available in the Lincoln area grocery stores, but they have plans to expand to the Omaha market this October.

Group Questions

Dan Rice, the owner, farmer and general manager, answered all our questions (and there were many! What else do you expect from a bunch of dietitians and foodies?).  Dan gave honest, matter-of-fact answers, which we all appreciated. He walked us through the farm, showing us that happy cows don’t only come from California.

Cows eating

Week Old Calf

We learned about everything from antibiotic use to how a newborn calf gets colostrum from its mother, all while walking around in cute blue booties! Dan talked openly about how they do occassionally use antibiotics, but only when a cow is sick, just like we do as humans. A cow is isolated from the group and their milk is dumped until the antibiotics are out of their system. All milk is tested for antibiotics at the farm and then again at the processing facility to ensure that none of it gets to you, the consumer.

When we hear the word organic we often think local and sustainable, which is often true, but here in Nebraska, there are very few organic dairy farms. Consequently, if you’re buying organic milk from a Nebraska grocer it is very unlikely that any of it is actually local.  Prairieland Dairy is not certified as organic, but they make every effort to be sustainable and transparent.

Our group truly enjoyed the visit to this local dairy farm. We appreciated the opportunity to see where the cows are raised and how they are milked. It affirmed our trust in the farmers that are bringing milk to our tables.

Nutrition Education Program Staff 

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1 Response to "Bloggers Hit Up Local Dairy Farm"

  1. Audra Losey

    Besides Prairieland Dairy mentioned in the blog, you can also buy local Nebraska milk and/or cheese from Burbach’s in Hartington and Jisa’s in Brainard. Thanks to Beth Bruck-Upton, from the Nebraska Dairy Council for providing this info!