I’m letting you in on a little secret of mine. I’ve never said where I live but today is the day. I’ve called Wisconsin home most of my life except for a few years when we lived in Washington DC. I didn’t always live in the same city and in fact the two cities I have lived in a very different. While I grew up in a very rural part of northern WI where there were way more trees than farms my adult life took me to a much more agriculturally heavy part of the state. This is where I first encountered the dairy breakfast.
What in the world is a dairy breakfast?
I too wondered what this was about. I’ve seen farms, I’ve been on farms this was not a surprise. In a nutshell many counties have a dairy breakfast that occurs yearly in June (it’s National Dairy Month in case you didn’t know). Each year it’s hosted by a local family run farm on their property. They set up loads of tables in a big barn, have tractor rides, petting zoos, and all kinds of other fun things to do. Usually there’s a tour of the farm and the milking operation. Of course there’s also breakfast – the menu changes but it’s always heavy on dairy. Milks, cheeses, and butter. There’s usually a small fee but generally $5 or less per person.
Did you know that 99% of Wisconsin dairy farms are family owned and operated?
Last Friday I went with M and American Grandma (that’s my mom) to the Dairy Breakfast for Eau Claire county called Breakfast in the Valley. It was drizzling and chilly and for awhile I was ready to call it quits. We stuck it out and finally made our way into the big hall for breakfast. Sadly we were a little limited – there were scrambled eggs but they were mixed with ham and peppers so none for us. Muffins, cheese, milk and juice were safe. The Eau Claire dairy breakfast also has a tradition of having ice cream with cornflakes and strawberries. It was 8:30am but I ate it anyway!
The Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture Ben Brancel was on hand to help dish out breakfast along with Alice in Dairyland – the official Wisconsin Dairy ambassador.
Who is Alice in Dairyland?
She is a public relations professional working for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. She travels throughout the state, nation and world to promote Wisconsin products to audiences of all ages, educating the media, youth and civic groups about the many facets of the state’s agricultural industry. As Wisconsin’s agricultural ambassador, Alice in Dairyland will play an important role in educating urban and rural citizens alike about Wisconsin’s vital agricultural heritage and its impact on our future. She can expect to log more than 40,000 miles, visit 100 schools, and make nearly 300 appearances for Wisconsin agriculture. (from Alice in Dairyland website)
Two Eau Claire County dairy farm families were featured this year.
Unlike many dairy breakfasts’ Eau Claire counties is not held on a farm but at the Eau Claire County Fairgrounds. So there are no tours of milking parlors or cows to look at. Who knows maybe we’ll visit another county breakfast yet this June and I can show you what a family run dairy farm looks like.
I wanted to write this post because I wanted to show people that not all operations are factory farms. The farmers that I have contact with really do care about their animals and are not in this to get rich. In fact most of our local farmers can not farm as their only profession because they simply wouldn’t make enough money to support their families. I buy my milk from a local organic farm, it comes in a glass bottle and I can have it delivered to my door step. I always encourage people to use their local farmers as a resource and support them!
If you’re in or around Wisconsin check out this free map from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. It points out many cheese factories and retail stores around the state to satisfy your cheesy desires!
Have you ever been to a dairy breakfast? Is there something similar in your state?