By Brad Johnson
As we finish the month of June, most folks seem to know that June is Dairy Month. OK, so other than the obvious and incredibly important Independence Day, does the month of July hold any particular distinction? As a matter of fact, with a little help from Google, did you know that July is: National Blueberry Month, National Anti-Boredom Month, National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, National Hot Dog Month and National Ice Cream Month.
As part of the Rowan County Cooperative Extension 4-H Summer Fun Program, we conduct a very simple, one-day program named “Got Milk,” which is aimed at exposing non-farm children to the very complex and intensive dairy industry. Piedmont Research Station has been a great partner in this program and several dairies throughout Rowan County have also been involved through the years. The children see the milking process, are taught about dairy facilities, dairy feeds, dairy management and dairy foods. Using a pre-test and a post-test to determine the increase in the children’s knowledge, this year’s “Got Milk” class (13 children, ages 7-13), increased their knowledge of the dairy industry 102 percent.
The milking process is always a big highlight for the children, but maybe even more fun is watching the children taste a large number of dairy foods. The dairy foods include: 10-12 types of cheese, yogurt (I have to buy a large container, because the children always polish it off), sour cream, whipped cream, cottage cheese, whole milk, fat free milk, buttermilk, chocolate milk (the children always drink all of this, too), half and half, butter and, of course, ice cream. Parents, if you think your child is a picky eater, I promise you, in all the years we’ve been conducting this program, practically every child will try almost every dairy food. They may not like everything, but they taste them.
Which brings me back to ice cream and July being National Ice Cream Month. Some fun ice cream facts:
• The most popular flavor of ice cream is vanilla.
• It takes 12 pounds of whole milk (about 1.5 gallons, a gallon of milk weighs 8.6 pounds) to make a gallon of ice cream.
• Federal standards require ice cream to contain a minimum of 10 percent milk fat and 20 percent total milk solids (fat, protein, milk sugar — known as lactose — and minerals) by weight.
• Some premium ice creams contain 16 percent milk fat.
Brad Johnson is an agent in agriculture, livestock and dairy at Rowan County Cooperative Extension.