Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pure Michigan Agricultural Tour

Today I went with the Michigan Ag Council as the dairy spokesperson (and blogger) for the first Pure Michigan Agriculture farm tour! 

It was so much fun.  The Ag Council invited bloggers and food writers to learn about Michigan farming and food production. 

First, we visited the Horning Farm in Manchester, MI.  They milk about 500 cows.  Earl Horning was able to answer their many questions - about organic, antibiotics (not in milk!), GMO, feed, raw milk, his favorite calves ... even what he would do with his cattle in the event of a tornado.  It's always so interesting to talk to people about farming and get their different perspectives.

Earl showing off his milking parlor

Letting the milker milk our fingers

We next went to the Michigan Dairy LLC in Livonia.  This is a milk processing and bottling plant owned by Kroger.  We went inside and I said, "It smells like milk in here."  Another blogger, Camille, laughed and said, "Who says that?"  But it did! 

I thought the plant was fascinating.  I love factory tours!  I've been to the milk plant in Ovid, but this one was different - mostly due to the bottling.  We got to see the bottles being made, being moved, being filled, and being moved out - all in two rooms.  We saw the lab, we checked out all the various machines to separate and pasteurize the milk, and we got to talk to really enthusiastic (and proud) employees.  The bloggers asked really good questions and liked the answers.  After hearing about the local milk, the safety principles in place, and the dairy farm practices, Lisa said, "This makes me really want to buy milk at Kroger!"  (Which I of course support because Kroger is a great MMPA customer!)

I also learned something I'd never even thought about - milk goes from the farm to the grocery shelf in about 40 hours.  Or shorter.  Occasionally it'll be longer if a farm does every other day pickup and the grocery store does every other day shelving.  But that's the exception.  MOSTLY, the milk you're buying just came from the farm.  The shipping, bottling, and shelving happens very quickly! 

We weren't allowed to take pictures in the plant, which is too bad, because we were wearing hairnets, helmets, glasses, boots, and coats.  Maybe one will turn up tomorrow!

We then went to Kroger to hear about their Pure Michigan campaign and to have lunch.  First, Dale walked us through the store and showed us the giant signs that featured Michigan farmers that sell their products to Kroger.  I asked if all Krogers had these signs and he told me yes.  I hadn't noticed them at my Kroger - and I even know some of the farmers on the signs! 

Then we came upon our beautiful milk-tasting table. 

Which called for a toast:

Then we walked to the dairy section and were surprised by ... our lunch spread! 

Three beautiful tables, covered with tablecloths, pretty place settings, tulips, and food, right among the shoppers!

Just a normal day in the dairy section

We were waited on and had a fabulous Michigan-made meal.  I'm a super picky eater, and I never expect to eat what's served at a dinner.  But I ate every bite.  (For those who know me personally, yes, this is the first time it's ever happened.)

Portobello mushroom covered in squashes and eggplant, ice cream with warm apples, chocolate milk ... delicious. 
Even our tulips had a 'From Michigan, For Michigan' sign 

Good looking and good tasting

And I never let my kids eat in the grocery store ...

Wonderful day, interesting people, fun environment - and a meal I didn't EVEN MAKE.  Hard to beat.

On the way home, I had to buy milk.  I went to my local Kroger.  I checked out the dairy section and - yes!  There were giant signs featuring Michigan farmers.  They've been there all along and I just hadn't noticed.  Learn something new every day, even in my own backyard ... or grocery aisle.   


Check out some of the other attendees' sites to get their take on the tour! 
Lauren Weber – Mrs. Weber’s Neighborhood
Camille Jamerson – The Super Family 13
Alysia George - Michigal
Regina Sober – The Crazy Nuts Mom
Lisa Nocera – Smart Food and Fit
Lisa Paparelli – Simple Food First
Kara Dykstra – Domestic Endeavors


Lisa said...

You are so organized! I am hoping I to post something this weekend. Great recap and love the pics. Thanks for the mention. I shared your post on my FB page! :)

Carla said...

Thanks, Lisa! Looking forward to yours, too! : )

Alysia said...

Great post, and it was so nice meeting you on the tour! Hope to see you on the next one. And thanks for the mention :-)

Rob Feckler said...

I love factory tours too! I enjoy seeing how products are made and packed. It’s very amusing to watch those big machineries work so fast.

Rob Feckler