One day Julie told me I needed to post about the millions of crafts people could make out of plastic milk gallons. Her daughter was supposed to take one to school for a project, and she was really pushing the milk-drinking with her kids because she needed it emptied before school. She thought that if people were making the crafts, we could increase milk consumption.
"Are there a lot of milk gallon crafts?" I asked.
"I'm sure - just check Pinterest," she said.
Sure enough, there are billions of milk gallon crafts. Later that week in the paper I saw a woman in my town had built a milk gallon igloo for the community center. Are you inspired? Getting crafty?
Then today she called to tell me she saw Live with Kelly and Michael at the gym. She told me they were talking about how the slogan 'Got Milk?' ad campaign is being replaced by 'Milk Life'. She said they were also surprised to hear that milk consumption has gone down - Michael responded to that by saying that he used to drink a gallon of milk a day and said ... "How do you think I got this body?" as in, he's super fit.
We talked about how if she didn't have me as a friend, she would never think about these milk-related issues! When you know someone who is personally affected, it changes your worldview.
Which brings me back to this weekend ... we went to a wedding with people we hadn't seen in a really long time. Some since before we became dairy farmers.
- Our first friend asked us about organic milk. We had a long discussion.
- Another guy came over to the table and said, "Are you guys the people with the dairy farm? I have some questions about ultra-pasteurized organic milk."
Our friends laughed and one said, "Carla, do you just want the microphone?"
- Then a friend came back from tending to her baby and her husband said, "Now tell her about organic and conventional milk."
What our friends had questions about were buying organic milk vs. buying conventional milk. They wanted to know what we bought. We told them we buy conventional.
We explained that ...
- conventional and organic milk have no antibiotics in it.
- conventional and organic milk have no added hormones in it. (All milk has natural hormones.)
We told them about how milk is tested repeatedly on the farm and at the lab to ensure that it is antibiotic free. We told them we don't feed any antibiotics to cows. We only give them medicine when they're sick, and then we don't milk them into the tank when they have the medicine still in their systems. Then when they're better and the medicine is out of their system - only then do we begin milking them again. No one wants antibiotics in the milk - the farmer or the consumer.
We told them about how in Michigan farmers don't give their cows hormones to help them produce more milk. (We never have on this farm, either.) When farmers did it, there was no way to tell the artificial hormone from the natural hormone, because cows already produced it. (So there was no test for it.) But when consumers didn't want it, farmers stopped using it. In Michigan, that happened in 2008.
Of course we're in favor of capitalism and choice, and it's easier to make a decision when you know all milk is healthy and nutritious.
The reaction from our friends was exactly the same.
"No one knows this."
"I've never heard this - ever."
"You need to do a better job of telling people about this."
"Does your industry try to publicize this at all?"
This made me laugh, since I feel that's all we do - through US Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, National Milk Producers Federation, the Michigan Ag Council, farm tours, events, blogs ... We're trying. I guess we're not always reaching the people that we're trying to reach. That's why personal connections mean so much.
But if we all tell a few more friends ... talk at a few more weddings ... and make some more Pinterest crafts, maybe we can spread the word about living the milk life. To the milk igloo!