June is National Dairy Month. In case you didn’t know, June has been National Dairy Month since 1937, but back then it was known as National Milk Month. So go hug some cattle. Or eat cheese. Better yet, enjoy your favorite ice cream outside while the days are long and the weather is beautiful. This is Wisconsin; that’s what we do here. Actually, the best way to commemorate National Dairy Month is to thank a farmer: that’s something we probably don’t do enough of here, especially when you consider the impact family farmers have on our great state. To get you thinking about National Dairy Month, here are two companies—one large and one small—that are offering new products at Willy Street Co-op. They’vehelped make America’s Dairyland a remarkable place to live.
Organic Valley from La Farge, Wisconsin, is one of the companies that have made our state a dairy powerhouse, and they just happen to be a national cooperative of family farmers. In fact, Organic Valley is the largest farmer-owned cooperative in North America. This is wonderful for several reasons, but most importantly it means the money you spend at Willy Street Co-op on milk or cream or butter helps the family farmers of Organic Valley directly. New to their offerings is a 100-percent grass-fed milk which is available at Willy Street Co-op in whole, 2 percent or skim half gallons. The cows that produce this milk spend their days roaming free and are fed a diet of grass and hay, but no soy or grains. A distinctive trait of this grass-fed milk is that its flavor changes, albeit subtlety, with the seasons. Comparing this grass milk to wine or honey may be a stretch, but the premise is the same; the milk carries the traits of the seasonal clovers and alfalfa the cows graze. Organic Valley doesn’t homogenize this milk, but it is “minimally pasteurized” and has cream on the top, “the way nature intended.”
Organic Valley also has a new salted butter. Like the grass milk, this butter is completely devoid of GMOs, pesticides or antibiotics. And it’s churned from the cream of pasture-raised cows. It’s available at both locations in 8 oz. packages.
Nature also intended for hens to roam about organic fields, and for the hens at the Prairie Bluff Farm in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, this is happily the case. The eggs offered by Pasture Patterns are technically seasonal and they’ve only recently been available this spring, but if you’ve never tried them before, well, they’re new to you. All the organic eggs are packaged in 100-percent recycled paper cartons and transported in reusable crates. The sizes of the eggs may vary from medium to large and are cleaned utilizing a chemical-free egg cleaning process. During the winter months, when Mother Nature transforms the pasture into tundra, the hens are housed in passive solar winter shelters where they roam carefree and are fed dried alfalfa that’s been stored from the summer. Another highlight about Pasture Patterns is the open door Prairie Bluff Farm has for their guests. From the end of May until the middle of September, you can visit the farm in Mount Horeb and see the operation up close. Hours can vary and they’re usually during the morning, so it’s best to call ahead. Visiting Pasture Patterns might also be the perfect way to thank a farmer for the tremendous effort each and every one of them puts forward to make National Dairy Month not only something special, but something special from Wisconsin.