Western Dairy Staff Participate in Honor the Harvest, Farm to Table Summit
Thornton, CO – June 17, 2016 – This week, the Honor the Harvest, National Dairy Council Thought Leader Summit took place in Chicago. Montana University Assistant Professor of Food and Nutrition and Sustainable Food Systems Dr. Carmen Byker Shanks and Executive Chef for Colorado Springs School District 11 Nathan Drinberger joined Western Dairy staff at the summit. While there, they learned about using food for its highest purpose and moving nutrients through the food system – from people, to animals and back to the land to grow more food – instead of going to waste in a landfill.
During the summit, several leaders in both dairy and sustainability explained that in order to ensure that nutritious foods are available to all, food companies, retailers and restaurants can partner with dairy farmers to recycle food scraps that are inedible to humans, avoiding landfills or incineration. They showed that even the leftover food that both people and animals cannot eat can still be recycled and turned into a natural fertilizer for the land through composting and anaerobic digesters – and in addition to producing natural fertilizer, anaerobic digesters can produce renewable energy from organic waste.
As part of the summit, participants also went on a tour of Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana, where they were able to see the topics presented in action – including anaerobic digesters.
Dr. Byker Shanks was particularly impressed by all the information she learned the summit and feels that she received the tools she needs to share information about how dairy promotes human, environmental and economic health.
I am so grateful to Western Dairy Association for supporting me to attend Honor the Harvest. At the conference I learned about how the dairy industry works every day to support sustainability. As a nutrition professor who teaches, researches and works with the public, I received the tools I need to share information about how dairy promotes human, environmental and economic health. Networking with many professionals across the food system was an added benefit. I look forward to collaborating with all of my new dairy colleagues into the future. Personally, I love dairy foods such as cheese and yogurt and am excited to incorporate those products even more into my own diet and recipes that I share with others.
Chef Dirnberger was also captivated by the information he learned at the summit, and is looking forward to doing his part in developing a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, teamwork and sustainability.
Dairy farmers and the Western Dairy Association have such strong core values. I was honored to be able to attend Honor the Harvest. Hearing the need for innovation and entrepreneurs as we face the challenges ahead was one of the key takeaways for me. Food is truly the one thing that every human being has in common on this planet. To believe that we can change the world through food and for dairy to be a catalyst for making that change is admirable.
As we continue to develop relational capacity and build a high performing team across the country made up of farmers, dietitians, chefs, businesses and government agencies the seeds of change will grow. First we had to dare to dream big enough to face these challenges. National Dairy Council shared a dream of a future where we Honor the Harvest. I look forward to developing a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, teamwork and sustainability to do our part to help face the future and make that dream a reality. Together we will do great things for our children.
This was an engaging experience for the Western Dairy staff who attended, who are now better prepared to tell dairy’s sustainability story.