Happy World Milk Day! Every year on June 1, the world celebrates the importance, benefits and contribution of dairy to our everyday lives. In 2001, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) set aside June 1 as World Milk Day, a day to raise awareness on how the dairy sector is contributing to the world’s economic development, livelihoods, nutrition and environmental sustainability.
There are so many advantages of dairy. Prior to World Milk Day we celebrate the Enjoy Dairy Rally, which takes place from May 29 – May 31, and highlights all aspects of the benefits of milk:
Dairy is packed with several important nutrients like calcium for strong teeth and bones, phosphorus, B vitamins, potassium, and vitamin D and as such can be used to meet the nutritional requirements of the young and old. Moreover, it is an excellent source of protein. Did you know that dairy is also good for the heart? Research shows that dairy products are associated with reduced risk of childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Probiotic dairy products such as yoghurt are also beneficial to the digestive system.
The dairy industry is a major source of employment especially in developing countries. Statistics show that 240 million people are employed in the dairy sector. An additional 400 million people are supported by full-time jobs created by the dairy sector. 600 million people live on dairy farms around the world. In all, at least 1 billion people are economically impacted by activities of the dairy industry. The dairy industry supports the livelihoods of many people living in low-income countries, such as India which is currently the world’s largest milk producer. More women especially are being empowered economically through dairy farming. Already, some 80 million women are involved in dairy farming globally.
The dairy industry is working towards more sustainable and innovative ways of reducing carbon emission. In the American dairy industry for instance, the carbon footprint of one gallon of milk is 19% less than it used to be a decade ago. That’s equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere by half a million acres of U.S. forests every year. The U.S. dairy industry is also working to achieve carbon neutrality or better, optimize water usage and improve water quality by 2050. In Europe, the story is just as good. FAO statistics show there has been a 51% drop in livestock emissions between 1990 and 2014.
This year, as the dairy sector shares their sustainability stories with us, we also share them with the world using the #WorldMilkDay and #EnjoyDairy hashtags. If you’re curious to hear from those working in the industry, check out the videos for Voices from the Field.
Most importantly, let us raise a glass of milk to all those who ensure our milk bottles and gallons are always full, our mouths continue to savour every ‘cheesy’ moment, our bread is buttered daily, and we do not cease to enjoy dairy even in these difficult times. Cheers!