Milk plays a vital role in America’s history

Milk and milk products have played a vital role in America’s history since 1611 when the first cows were brought to Jamestown, VA. Since those early days, an industry has grown that has successfully continued to serve the nutritional needs of a growing nation with a wide variety of products.

Today’s dairy industry includes the farmers who produce the milk, processors and manufacturers who provide all the services needed to turn out a variety of wholesome, refreshing products, and the retailers who bring them directly to consumers.

Because milk and milk products are now readily available and frequently consumed in the U.S., a steady supply of these foods is often taken for granted. But, it has not always been that way, and, until fairly recent times, milk was not always readily available. Thanks, however, to the many advancements and improvements achieved by the entire industry in the areas of processing, packaging, refrigerator and distribution, a wide variety of dairy products is available to everyone.

Another development has been the important research and experimentation which has resulted in improved methods of selection, breeding and feeding of cows. As an example, milk production per cow 100 years ago was estimated at 1,700 quarts annually; today the average has increased to more than 8,450 quarts per cow.

The dairy industry, through dairy farmers’ checkoff program, has also made tremendous strides in research demonstrating the healthful qualities of dairy products. Current checkoff-funded research indicates that milk can help prevent high blood pressure, reduce the risk of colon cancer and assist with weight loss when consumed in concert with an exercise program.

Highly nutritious, tasty and versatile, milk is often characterized as “nature’s most nearly perfect food.” When consuming milk as a delicious beverage or in a serving of ice cream, one is participating in a continuing and remarkable history of mankind.

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