Last month, American Dairy Association North East (ADANE) teamed up with Northern Virginia Dietetic Association to host a day at Al-Mara Farm in Midland, Virginia. The group of Registered Dietitians joined LaChell Miller, MS, RDN, CC and Emma Andrew from ADANE for the interactive bus ride to the farm. Attendees enjoyed playing dairy trivia and watching dairy farm videos on the short ride from the city to the farm.

The event was kicked off with an informative discussion about dairy cow health and nutrition with Director of Feed & Nutrition Services at Culpeper Farmers’ Cooperative, Katie Reames. She discussed everything from a traditional diet for a dairy cow to the differences in how they calculate nutritional requirements. Attendees learned about the dairy industry and how the breed of cow, weather, and even the economy determine successful milk production.

Did you know that contrary to belief, cows have four chambers in their stomach, not four stomachs! They are also nourished with 40-50 pounds of dry feed each day.

Afterwards, we enjoyed a delicious meal of grilled cheese and chili prepared right on the farm. Since a dairy farm tour would not be complete without some ice cream, Al-Mara Farm provided pumpkin ice cream that was made from the milk on the farm for dessert. After lunch, the group took a guided farm tour with Emma Andrew from ADANE and Patty Leonard from Midland Farms Inc. to learn about the operation and the importance of the dairy industry.

Without the dairy industry, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy our favorite dairy products; milk, cheese and yogurt – just to name a few! While on the hayride, attendees saw several breeds of cows while learning what type of dairy product each was best suited for. I had no idea that Jersey cows are known for high butterfat content of their milk!

The afternoon concluded with Keith Ayoob, EdD, RD, FADA, CD/N from Albert Einstein College of Medicine discussing the topic of added sugars. He highlighted the trend of adding sugar to foods while discussing what Registered Dietitians can do to help consumers understand what this truly means. He discussed that you should look at the overall nutritional profile of the item instead of focusing on a single ingredient. He also emphasized that flavored milk contains some sugar, but contributes only 4% of total daily sugar intake for children age 2-18. The day ended with a celebratory toast with chocolate milk before attendees boarded the bus back to Fairfax.