A recap of my dairy farm tour at Hornstra Farms where I chilled with cows, ate the creamiest ice cream of my life, learned about dairy farming, and got a dairy farmer’s perspective on some controversial topics in the dairy industry.
I’ve had some pretty cool learning and traveling experiences lately. From almonds in California, to Concord grapes in Washington, to all things blogging in Vermont, and this weekend I’m off to Atlanta for the annual conference for dietitians, FNCE. I feel pretty darn lucky.
I love any excuse to get out to farm land. Especially in the fall. There’s something so beautiful about a farm in the fall with the leaves changing color and pumpkins galore.
Some days I seriously think I’m meant to live on a farm. Steve and I joke about it every now and again. That we’ll start our own farm. I say we joke but you know what they say…in every joke lies an ounce of truth. Maybe. Someday. I’ll let you know.
Hornstra Farms won the Dairy Farmer of the Year award for Massachusetts last year. Having visited the farm and meeting the owner, John, I can understand why. John has invested millions of dollars into his farm because he’s passionate about dairy farming and wants families to be able to visit the farm and learn about where their milk comes from. He has about 3,500 customers in the South Shore area of Boston that get his milk delivered to their doorstep. I want milk delivered to my home! Perhaps I should move to the Cape…
John still bottles his milk in glass so that way no taste is imparted from other materials into the milk.
He also uses vat pasteurization (low-temp pasteurization) – the milk is heated to 145 degrees for 30 minutes. The low temperatures help retain more of the beneficial enzymes you’d find in raw milk. Believe it or not, only 10 farms in New England use this pasteurization method. The more common pasteurization is high-temperature (280 degrees for a couple seconds), which kills off everything – the good, the bad, the ugly. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out to see if I can find vat pasteurized milk at my local co-op market.
The Kitchn has a good article on vat pasteurization if you’re interested in reading up more on it.
The other reason I would do well on a farm is my insane love for creatures. Like cows. Many of the cows on John’s farm are red & white Holsteins. And I just want to eat. them. up. Not literally, of course (I don’t eat meat). But in a “they are so cute I just want to snuggle with them every day” kind of way.
I asked John about his stance on grass-fed vs. corn-fed cows. He said that IHO “corn-fed” usually refers to pumping beef cows with corn meal to fatten them up. With his dairy cows, they are fed corn but they get the whole corn plant (leaves and all). They get fed grass too but he said the grass would need to be really rich to give them all the calories they need. So he supplements their diet with corn as a starch for energy.
90% of John’s milk sales are for low-fat and skim milk so to use up all that leftover cream (see that luscious, silky cream pictured below?) he makes butter and ice cream on the premise to sell in his farm store.
Oh, yes. We tasted his ice cream. The coffee toffee and eggnog didn’t disappoint. They were ridiculously creamy. John actually uses sugared egg yolk in his ice cream to give it that custard-like taste. He’s all about differentiating himself with his products to offer his customers something unique and I love that.
Raising my ice cream cup to you, John! You’re doing a pretty awesome job there on Hornstra Farms. Thank you to the New England Dairy Council for inviting me along to tour the farm!
Check out what the other bloggers in attendance had to say about their experience down on the farm:
Julia Robarts, RD of Juggling With Julia
Kathleen Reale of Be Free For Me
Liz Weiss of Meal Makeover Moms