Celebrate National Dairy Month throughout June

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 31, 2019

By Toi Degree

Rowan Cooperative Extension

June is National Dairy Month, which started out as National Milk Month in 1937 as a way to promote drinking milk.

It was initially created to stabilize the dairy demand when production was at a surplus but has now developed into an annual tradition that celebrates the contributions the dairy industry has made to the world after the National Dairy Council stepped in to promote the cause. The name soon changed to “Dairy Month.” The day of this year’s observation is Saturday, June, 1.

So with all the new “milk products” on the market, what is milk? Milk is a nutrient-rich, white liquid food produced by the mammary glands of mammals. Milk’s ingredients and nutrients differ from popular non-dairy options like almond milk, cashew milk and soy milk.

Not all non-dairy options have the same nutrients as the nutrients in milk. For example, an 8-ounce glass of dairy milk provides eight times more naturally occurring protein than the same size serving of almond milk.

Alternative beverages like rice, almond and coconut are fortified with a few key nutrients but lack many of the vitamins and minerals found naturally in cow’s milk. Also, they often contain added ingredients like stabilizers, syrups, added sugar, salt and thickeners.

Dairy milk has only three ingredients – cow’s milk, vitamin A and vitamin D. Not only is cow’s milk packed with calcium, it contains eight other essential nutrients. Milk is a source of high quality protein.

National Dairy Month is a great way to start the summer with nutrient-rich dairy foods. From calcium to potassium, dairy products like milk contain nine essential nutrients that can help you manage your weight and reduce your risk for high blood pressure, osteoporosis and certain cancers. Whether it’s protein to help build and repair the muscle tissue of active bodies or vitamin A to help maintain healthy skin, dairy products are a natural nutrient powerhouse.

Milk is the top food source for calcium, potassium and vitamin D, three of the four “nutrients of public health concern,” nutrients that many Americans, including children, are most lacking in their diets. Since more than 90% of the U.S. population falls short of the recommended three daily servings of milk and milk products, if included at mealtime, this fresh, simple and wholesome beverage can play an important role in healthy eating and well-being through adulthood.

Those are just a few of the reasons that you should celebrate dairy not just in June but all year long.

For more information on dairy products contact Toi N. Degree, Family & Consumer Education agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension; 704-216-8970 or by email at toi_degree@ncsu.edu.