Overview & History
Vermonters are crazy about their dairy - we have 696 dairy farms operating in the state currently and we produce around 2.73 billion pounds of milk per year, yielding $454 million in revenue. In fact, the state is more dependent on a single commodity than any other state! Whether it's yogurt, award-winning cheeses, fluid milk, or cheese curds, Vermonters know good dairy & the industry is an integral part of the state's working landscape. Next time your out driving around, take note of the happy cows grazing in their pastures and give them a wave to celebrate this month's harvest!
People have been drinking animal milk for as long as we have had domesticated animals. The ancient Egyptians produced dairy products, but reserved it for royalty! In European nations, it wasn’t until the 14th century that cow’s milk became more popular than sheep’s milk. Diary cows were brought to North America by Europeans in the early 1600s, but it took hundreds of years, until1884, for the glass milk bottle to be developed, and it wasn’t until the1930s that the milk carton was used!
- All dairy products are derived from animal milk, and although most common, milk doesn’t just come from cows! Vermont also has sheep and goat farms that produce milk and products for sale. But in other countries, people consume buffalo, camel, yak, horse, reindeer, and donkey milk.
- While milk can be consumed raw, in the US it is mostly sold pasteurized (heated to kill bacteria) before sale. This process was developed in 1864 by French scientist Louis Pasteur.
- Dairy products contain many nutrients including calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein.
- It has been shown that consuming milk as a child and adolescent helps build strong bones and reduces the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis later in life.