Utah State University offers a Food Literacy class. Designed for Nutrition and Food Science majors, Family and Consumer Sciences majors, and Family and Consumer Sciences Education majors, the course “challenges students to take reasoned and justified action in the home, community, and world related to food from the ground up.” The course’s mission seemed perfectly aligned with our goal of reconnecting people with the farm and showing people where their food comes from “from the ground up,” so we arranged for a field trip.
Mid-October, about 50 students, over two consecutive days, hopped on a bus to visit a dairy farm and then a processing plant in Northern Utah’s Cache Valley. Munk Farms hosted the group, and our guide was Tammy Munk, who took the students on a very complete tour. From an upper observation deck of the dairy’s milk parlor, then into the middle of the milking carousel, a walk over to the calf area, then around the dairy on a hay wagon, and finally to the feed pits, Tammy gave the students the opportunity to see and experience first-hand, the operation of a modern dairy farm.
The mid-day milking session had just ended when the students arrived (the Munk’s milk about 600 cows 3 times per day), so instead of witnessing the cows take a ride on the “Cow”ousel the students were able to see how meticulously the Munks clean and sterilize the milking equipment after each session.
Students were introduced to a brand-new baby calf, born just hours before, and encouraged to feed and pet the older calves.
In addition to seeing dairy cows and learning about on-farm practices, students had the opportunity to listen to Shane Munk talk about his dairy’s feeding/nutrition regimen, and students were able to make the connection between a cow’s diet and her milk production. (Click here to read more about what cows eat.)
The Munks sell their milk to Gossner Foods – one of the country’s largest Swiss Cheese makers – located just 5 miles away in Logan, UT, where their raw milk is pasteurized and made into cheese and shelf stable milk. Students were able to enjoy cheese, flavored milk, and made-fresh-on-the-premesis ice cream while taking a virtual tour of the processing plant. Take your own tour by watching the video below.
It was a great two days, and we appreciate the opportunity to work with Utah State University, their professors, and their students to enhance food literacy “from the ground up!”