A Tour to Explore the Dairy Industry in Utah
Last Friday, we had the opportunity to take University of Utah masters students on a farm tour.
And this wasn’t your typical farm tour, it was an all-day food system (large-scale and small-scale) experience. We had fun, and our hope is that by getting students to the farm, we are able to offer a unique opportunity outside of the classroom – a chance for students to see and experience what happens on the farm and how dairy foods get from the cow to the refrigerator at both ends of the spectrum – large-scale processing and small-batch production.
This is worth doing every year for students – useful update and just plain fun!
We started at Batemens Mosida Farms – Utah’s largest dairy farm, which is currently milking 7,100 cows. We saw a calf just after she was born, watched the milking process, and had the chance to get up-close-and personal with some of the “girls” on the farm.
From there, we went on to Dannon’s processing plant in West Jordan. The facility is one of seven the French-based company has in the US & Canada. Watching machines take rolls of plastic and turn them into yogurt cups, fill them, seal them and then send them to cold storage before automated forklifts lifted pallets and took them onto refrigerated trucks was pretty amazing!
With the rise in popularity of Greek-style yogurt, this particular plant has grown in recent years and invested in state-of the-art equipment to create the high-protein products. This plant now processes 60-65% of the company’s total Greek market. All of the milk in the West Jordan facility comes from Utah farmers, and those farmers help feed a nation.
From the west side of the Salt Lake Valley we went east, up into the mountains to Midway to visit Canyon View Farm and Heber Valley Artisan Cheese. The Kohler family uses the milk from its 150 Holstein dairy cows to make unique, artisanal-style cheeses. Russel Kohler is the fourth generation to raise his family on the farm, and opening the cheese plant 4 years ago meant that farming remained a viable way of life for him and his family.
Through farm tour experiences such as this, our goal is to introduce students to agriculture and help them answer some fundamental questions:
- Who are our farmers?
- Where are their farms?
- How are foods processed and distributed?
- What does agriculture look like?
- Where does my food come from?
We feel that there is no better way to understand these concepts than to go to the source and have a look for yourself.
I want to see more types of farms and food production. It is a great thing for dietitians to be fully informed.
– Tour Participant
If you are interested in a farm tour, please contact us.