Michigan dairy farm families are your neighbors and, like you, they care about fostering a sustainable future for generations to come. They serve millions of Michigan residents from all walks of life, sustainably producing nutrient-rich milk for your table and a wide range of delicious dairy foods.
What is “Sustainable Nutrition”?
Sustainable nutrition is the intersection of agriculture, food production and nutrition – it is how foods contribute to social (e.g., nourishment, health and well-being), economic (e.g., affordable food, job creation) and environmental (e.g., using resources effectively to minimize air, water, land impacts) sustainability.
How are dairy farmers committed to sustainable nutrition?
The dairy community works together to ensure farmland, animals and people are nourished. People understandably want to know where their food comes from and its impact on the environment. Our Michigan dairy farmers are mindful of the planet and committed to producing better food through responsible practices. They realize that sustainable food systems are complex and about more than the carbon footprint alone.
Click on each section below to read more about the impact of dairy farming.
Today, producing a gallon of milk requires 65% less water, 90% less land, and 76% less manure than 70 years ago! This means that the carbon footprint of milk is 63% smaller than in 1944.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
U.S. dairy farms contribute just 2% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. And, unlike fossil fuels, which release new carbon into the atmosphere, cows recycle carbon! The CO2 in the atmosphere is converted by plants into carbohydrates, the cows digest the plants, producing milk, manure and methane. The milk nourishes us, the manure nourishes the soil and the methane converts to CO2, starting the cycle all over.
We use it every day! Michigan’s dairy farmers continue to improve their overall water efficiency and on-farm water recycling. The U.S. dairy industry has decreased its water footprint by more than 65% over the past several decades. Michigan’s dairy farmers also use precision farming techniques, cover crops and much more to reduce nutrient runoff from a farm and protect our Great Lakes and waterways.
Upcycling – Dairy cows convert feed into protein and nutrient-rich dairy foods to nourish people. Michigan’s dairy farmers are innovative recyclers and feed cows leftovers that would otherwise be sent to a landfill. Do you wear cotton clothing? Farmers feed cows the cotton seeds which helps provide cows with the nutrients they need to make delicious, nutrient-rich milk! Click here to learn more about what cows eat.
Manure/Nutrient Management – Dairy cow manure is a natural fertilizer that returns nutrients back to the soil to grow future feed for the cows, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers. The water in the waste is cleaned and reused on other parts of the farm. The dairy industry continues to partner with others to find additional uses for animal waste, including use as an energy source.
The care of dairy cows is an important part of successful dairy farming because healthy cows are happy and productive cows. Dairy farmers take excellent care of their cows, providing their animals clean and comfortable housing, 24/7 access to fresh food and water, and medical attention when necessary.
Health & Wellness
Dairy is sustainably nutritious and undeniably delicious. It is a key part of a diet that helps nourish all people.
Healthy eating styles that include fat-free or low-fat dairy foods have been linked to health benefits such as reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in adults and improved bone health, especially in children and adolescents.
Milk, cheese and yogurt provide high-quality protein and essential nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, phosphorus, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and pantothenic acid. A growing body of research supports benefits of higher protein diets for athletes and highly active individuals, weight management and to foster healthy aging.
Research also continues to support the large body of evidence that dairy foods are hard to replace when it comes to nutrition, relevance and well-being.
When you reach for nutrient-rich milk at your local grocery store, you are supporting the economy in your community. Dairy farming contributes to over $15B to the Michigan economy, with about 90,000 dairy-related jobs. Not only this, but its affordability – for example an 8-ounce serving of milk costs about 20 cents – reduces risk of food insecurity and hunger. Our dairy farm families help serve seven major food bank systems throughout the state.
Got dairy in the fridge? Whether you are looking for ideas for a nutrient packed smoothie, a comforting family meal, or an indulgent dessert, you’ll find something you love in our recipes section.
Discover more about modern dairy farming, dairy food trends and how we connect to the communities in Michigan by visiting our blog for the latest updates. We feature delicious recipes and cooking tips; sports and other nutrition info; in-depth features of our local dairy farmers and more!
Check out our resources on simple ways you can enhance your child’s nutrition. From healthy eating habits to daily exercise there are many ways to get involved as a parent. It’s no secret that a well-nourished child tends to perform better in the classroom. Let us help answer your questions and get some of that worry off your plate!