AITC celebrating milk's journey from farm to urban tables

Thursday marks the 140th anniversary of the first milk home delivery.

By Kay Shipman

Many students and their families count on finding containers of milk in their local grocery coolers. But before 1878, nonfarm families faced more difficulty buying milk.

Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC) plans to mark milk’s historic home delivery Thursday by celebrating milk and dairy farmers.

“In theory, Jan. 11, 1878, is the first day milk was delivered to homes for a profit. It was still delivered in milk pails because glass milk bottles were not invented yet,” said Kevin Daugherty, Illinois Farm Bureau education director. The milk glass bottle was patented in 1884.

To mark the milk milestone, IAITC distributed educational posters to all county Farm Bureaus and ag literacy coordinators. The front of the poster connects milk’s special day with Illinois and several information resources.

The back side of a small poster offers a state map, denoting dairy locations and highlighting counties with the largest dairy cow herds. Other information includes an activity that uses milk product codes to learn where the milk originated. Daugherty noted the information came from the IAITC dairy Ag Mag.

The reverse side of a larger poster also includes information about dairy industry careers, human nutrition related to dairy products, pictures and information about several dairy breeds, a milk history timeline and beverage label comparisons.

Celebrating milk’s January delivery provides great opportunity to teach students about animal care and nutrition, and to emphasize that cows must be milked, fed and cared for regardless of the winter weather, Daugherty explained.

“This (special day) gives us a natural tie to talk about dairy and the farm-to-table chain,” Daugherty said.

While the dairy industry is highlighted during June dairy month, schools aren’t in session then, so this gives ag literacy coordinators and IAITC opportunity to share dairy information and lessons, he added.

IAITC is offering a variety of National Milk Day resources and information on its website, available by clicking here.

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