This past weekend, I traveled to New York City with Dairy Good and Undeniably Dairy and dairy farmers from across the country to celebrate National Farmers Day. We had farmers from New York, Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona, California and of course, New Mexico. We started the weekend, early Friday morning at the Today Show plaza. Shouting at the camera, HAPPY NATIONAL FARMERS DAY!! Then we headed to the Grand Central Food Festival. And on Saturday, you could find us at the Times Square expo in the middle of Times Square.
Undeniably Dairy Stories
I went to NYC with the intent of doing a lot of talking and sharing about dairy instead I ended up doing a lot more listening. Listening to people tell me their stories about dairy and milk. Stories like: How they love gathering around the breakfast table with their teenagers to have milk and yogurt and catch up on life. How their little ones can finish two gallons of milk a week. How their grandmother makes the best Mac n cheese by using four different kinds of cheese. One young man told me about how he has found a dairy just outside of the city that he can drive to and learn about a dairy farm first hand. As I went to talk with another little boy and his mom, he proudly shared with me about his dairy farm in Pakistan. There he raised cows, chicken, and goats. He was so proud of his family farm.
My listening and learning didn’t stop at the expos. I learned about dairy farming in Jamaica from one of our hotel staff who grew up on a dairy. Gwenevere learned to make the best cow moo’ing sound from a lady at the top of the Empire State building as we were being herded like cattle through the lines to the elevator. It seemed everywhere we went people had a story to share about dairy.
Bringing People Together
All these shared stories reminded me that dairy products really bring people together. Whether you are having milk and cereal for breakfast with your kids before school or enjoying your favorite family recipe at the holidays, throughout the weekend the common theme of conversation was family. Families gathering around the table to enjoy food and each others’ company. We served more than 10,000 grilled cheeses and cups of chocolate milk on the streets of New York City. That is one sandwich and a cup of milk every 11 seconds! We ran out of samples both days because of the overwhelming number of people that visited our food truck. And more than 3,200 people went through the dairy exhibit. We heard over and over again how the grilled cheese and chocolate milk reminded people of their childhood.
Of course, I answered some questions about dairy farming too. Most people were surprised that we had farmers from across the country there to talk to them and even more surprised to learn that we have dairy farms in New Mexico! Many of their questions focused on organic versus conventional, GMOs, nutritional benefits of dairy, and so on. I loved explaining to people that the milk they buy at their grocery store comes from a local farmer within 100 miles of them. In preparing for this event, we discussed the possibility of negative or hostile consumers. But overall, the responses we received we extremely positive, and people were open to learning more.
This was such an incredible opportunity to get out and connect with consumers and fellow dairy farmers from all over. We also loved seeing some of the sights of the city! I urge my fellow dairy farmers that anytime an opportunity comes up to talk and share with consumers, say yes. I promise you won’t be disappointed by the people you meet and the conversations you have.
Undeniably in love with dairy,
New Mexico Milkmaid