During my weekly Saturday morning visits to the grocery store, there’s always one little treat I allow myself to grab off the shelf on my way out—a 12-ounce bottle of strawberry milk from a Dallas County dairy farm. I usually can’t even wait to get home to drink it, it’s that good. Plus, I’m happy to support a local family business.

During June, National Dairy Month, there’s a lot to celebrate when it comes to dairy farms in Iowa and across the United States. From the incredible number of products produced from dairy cows and goats to the ways farmers raise dairy more efficiently and with fewer impacts on the environment. For example, farmers in the Midwest have produced four times more milk in the last 60 years while ALSO decreasing water use by 65 percent and carbon emissions by 63 percent. And one full-time job is created for every 10 dairy cows in Iowa. I’ll raise a glass of milk to that!

If you’d like to join me in that toast, here are some super easy ways to participate in National Dairy Month:

1. Try a new dairy product

Can we talk for a minute about how many varieties of cheese there are and how many dishes you can use cheese in? There are even restaurants opening in Des Moines dedicated to cheese. My husband, Craig, is a huge cheese lover. Slices of muenster cheese and mozzarella string cheese are his go-to snacks. He was pretty pumped the first time we went to Heini’s Cheese Chalet, an Amish run operation in Ohio, where you can sample more than 70 different kinds of cheese all in one place. That opened our eyes to new flavors, some we liked and some we didn’t. But life’s too short to not try different cheese… or ice cream flavors, for that matter. 

2. Get ‘maximum gains’ with dairy

As the weather continues to warm up in Iowa (we hope), we’ll begin to see more cyclists and runners out on trails and new faces in the gym looking to get in shape for the summer. Dairy products can help improve your performance and build muscle. Chocolate milk is a great recovery drink after activities like running because of its carb and protein content. Whey, as in whey powder, also falls in the dairy category as it is a by-product of cheese! So, go ahead, get ‘moo’ving and set those personal records.

3. Learn more about the dairy industry from the comfort of home

Iowa contributes greatly to the dairy industry! We’re fourth in ice cream production in the nation, seventh in cheese production and twelfth in total pounds of milk produced. To learn more about the dairy industry in Iowa and how farmers in the Midwest care for dairy cows and goats, visit the Iowa State Dairy Association and Midwest Dairy Association websites. You’ll find today’s farmers are using innovation to better take care of animals. Have you seen those rotating back and face scratchers they have for cows? I need one for those hard to reach itches in the middle of my back!

If you want to take your ‘dairy month’ activities to the next level and actually visit a dairy farm, these Iowa Farm Bureau members have farms set up for guests, including the kiddos. Check events and schedules here:

So, celebrate National Dairy Month in whatever way suits your time and lifestyle. As for me? I think I’ll be picking up a gallon of that strawberry milk this Saturday… That should last me a few days, at least. 

By Caitlyn Lamm. Caitlyn is Iowa Farm Bureau's public relations specialist.