The Rodeo: Do You Know Where That Milk's Been?

So, I thought I knew everything there is to know about milk. Until I stumbled across the Southwest Dairy Farmers mobile dairy classroom at the rodeo yesterday.

It comes fully loaded with a cow, a multi-armed milking device and a huge tank to collect all that raw, unpasteurized milk the heifers give off at each of the hourly demonstrations throughout the day.

Southwest Dairy Farmers, the group running the classroom, is a dairy promotion company funded by farmers from Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arkansas. It sends its free mobile classroom to schools all over the Southwest region to educate students about milk and to promote the use of dairy products.

Spokesperson Bernadette McKenzie tells Hair Balls they try to teach kids the whole process from farm to fridge.

It includes an iodine udder dip, a few yanks on the teats and a fast-paced milking courtesy of the octopus-like milking device. The milk is then processed for consumption and brought to a store near you, unless of course, the 6,000 gallons of milk on the milk truck gets contaminated. 

At which point, the farmer takes the heat. But that doesn't happen too often. According to Southwest Dairy Farmers, less than 1 percent of all milk is ever contaminated because it is the most tested food in America.

"We try to teach them (students) the truth about dairy farmers and their importance," McKenzie said.  It's an abstract idea to kids, even to some of those living in rural areas. 

Plus, milk is a part of everything that's good, or at least Southwest Dairy Farmers seem to think so. And they're probably right, as no bowl of cereal or chocolate-chip cookie is complete without milk.    

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