Note: This post is sponsored by ENOUGH Movement. As always, I am sharing what happens on our farm. The views and opinions are my own.
I have a confession, I absolutely despise grocery shopping. I know that many people might think that as a farmer we must have most of what we need grown or raised right here on the farm but that simply is not the case. Most of what our family eats comes from the very same grocery store where my neighbors shop. We are fortunate to eat our own beef, eat eggs from our own chickens and know that we always have fresh milk.
The truth is though that I have no problem buying meat from the local grocer, a package of eggs when our girls cannot keep up with demand and we proudly fill our cart with dairy products made with our milk by our farmer owned cooperative. While there is a lot of concern these days about food safety and confusion over the massive amount of labels companies are placing on food products. As a farmer, I know that there are many rules and regulations in place to keep our food supply safe regardless of the amount of labels and I feel confident filling my cart with products grown/raised by my fellow farmers As a mother, I am more concerned about feeding my family a well-balanced meal and know that food safety is top priority no matter if the food was grown/raised on a conventional or organic farm.
As a conventional dairy farmer, food safety begins right here on our farm. It starts with the care that we provide for our cows. Keeping our cows healthy is crucial for producing high quality milk that will later be found at your local grocery store. That includes keeping our cows clean, well-fed, content and in a stress free environment. There are many steps that we take to ensure the milk our cows provide is handled properly and leaves our farm clean and antibiotic free.
It all starts in the milking parlor where the cows are milked.
- As the cows come into the milking parlor, their teats are cleaned with an iodine solution to remove any manure.
- The milking unit is attached to the udder and the cow is milked. On average each cow takes about 4-5 minutes to be milked.
- Once the cow is done, her teats are then dipped in another iodine solution to help prevent any udder infections.
During the time the cows are milked, the milk is transferred through stainless steel pipes to our bulk milk storage tank. As the milk enters the tank it begins the process of being cooled. The tank also has an agitator to not only help the milk cool consistently but to keep it from separating.
After each milking, the entire milking parlor where the cows are milk is cleaned. All the equipment that is used to milk the cows is cleaned on the outside. We have a special wash cycle that we use to completely sanitize all the milking equipment on the inside.
Our milk is picked up every day on the farm and arrives after morning milking.
- The milk truck driver takes a sample of our milk prior to loading the milk on the truck.
- The milk is loaded on the truck. The milk truck driver rinses the inside of the tank before taking the milk to the processing plant. The tank will then go through a more thorough wash cycle to sanitize the tank prior to evening milking.
- At the plant, the entire truck of milk is tested for antibiotics prior to entering the plant. If the truck tests negative, the milk is unloaded to become awesome dairy products in the local grocery store. If the test comes back positive, the entire truck full of milk has to be disposed of. It never enters the plant.
- The milk sample taken at the farm are sent to the lab to be tested for overall quality, components and antibiotics. This test will also be used if a truck of milk tests positive and that farm will have to pay for all the milk is damaged as well a face possible fines.
Essentially, you could say that the milk our cows provide is never touched by human hands which is why it is so incredibly important that all our equipment is cleaned twice a day, every day. As a mother and a farmer I can confidently say that the milk in your local grocery store is safe, nutritious and free of harmful antibiotic residues regardless if it’s produced on an organic farm or a conventional farm like ours.