Hey guys..I know, it’s been a minute since we’ve last hung out. I’ve been spending quite a bit of time on the road exploring California this past month. Parts of the off the beaten interstate that, admittedly, wouldn’t have been placed on top of my getaway wish-list.

Places where dairy princesses reign supreme and milk can be bought in multiple flavors via drive-thru window.

Farms where hard working hands are cracked and hard with generations of tales; eyes full of passion.

A land where white gold flows by the pitcher every single place you look. No, I’m serious. Everywhere. Sometimes drank with ice, sometimes straight up 2%. It got crazy like that.

You know what? I couldn’t be happier about this adventure.

These travels may not have involved fancy drinks, swimming pools or much relaxation. But the detour did provide me with some much needed prospective and quite possibly enough cheese to send me to a lactose recovery program.

Welcome to California’s Dairy Country peeps!

This is where Real California Milk comes from – I promise it’s going to be one wholesome feel-good ride.

Isn’t there is something magically romantic about the idea of farm life? Seeing the sun rise, working alongside handsome ranch men, accomplishing great things in nature with your own two hands while being able to consume two hearty breakfasts before most humans are hitting snooze for the fifth time.

Ha! Reality check: This is really hard, back-breaking work. You don’t get a vacation. Christmas is just another day. You never, ever get to call in sick because you’re just not “into it”. Hats off to all of you fine people – especially you Ray, who dirtied his perfectly pressed shirt while demonstrating how easy it is for him to birth a calf with one arm, a spray bottle and a smile. This guy took “No Big Deal” to the next level.

Beyond impressive.

I really admire the deep life devotion of the families I encountered on my milk mission, but what surprised me was the level of sustainability and quality control happening on dairies such as Quaresma. Water is like gold here in California and I find it incredibly responsible that the life cycle of it on the farm is used four times over! Whether it be to cool the milk, clean the system, hydrate the cows or water the corn fields for feed, there is a great attention taken to making sure all resources are used in the most efficient way.

Speaking of efficiency, the industry has put process into place which requires less cattle to produce 59% more milk. If you want to get all mathy about it we’re talking results of a 63% decrees in the dairy carbon footprint over the last 60 years. Talk about going all gangbusters on the global issues.

If you ask me, we should be more concerned about our transportation-related greenhouse issues than the cow paddies out on the field. Whatever your political stance – the issue does not land on sweet ol’ spotted Bessie.

PS: You totally need some blue booties in your life. It’s like instant sunshine.

Speaking of sunshine — may I present: The Milk Merry-Go-Round.

What might look like a 360 rotating milking station of doom, is actually quite a soothing and enjoyable experience for the girls. In fact, they don’t want to get off the ride…and who could blame them!?

Cow Carousel… Dairy Dizz…whatever you want to call it, it is mesmerizing.

You know what else is eye catching? MORE COW CAM!

Maybe I’ve just fallen victim to their lovely lashes, but these are the kind of dairy queens I could spend a little more time hanging out with on the field. Shy, gentle and incredibly curious – it was a treat to be so close to them.

Pure cow bliss.

It’s true. California Cows are happy…healthy in fact. I’ve never seen a more beauteous bunch. These gals are definitely calender worthy. Am I hearing word of a 2014 casting call??

I mean, Moo-vember is just around the corner… Sorry. Totally not sorry.

Now that we’ve seen where our milk comes from…let’s put on some sci-fi lab coats and see where our cheese comes from. Or at least where our deliciously salty cotija cheese comes to life in vats so large that thoughts of taking a dairy dip seemed incredibly normal.

The Rizo Lopez Foods processing plant has been churning out some of the highest quality Mexican and Central American cheese for over a decade. I have personally been seeking out their Don Francisco line of cheese at my local Hispanic markets because quite frankly there is nothing better than a little sprinkle of this latin love on everything from mini tostadas to cowboy breakfast skillets.

A plate of cheese at 9:30 am? Why not. Let’s live like we’re young…and super lactose tolerant.

Also – 15 pound wheels of Fresco available for your post-tour morning exercise routine.

I suppose there are times that every city girl needs to get a little mud on her feet, milk a cow and be inspired by the amazing people who work feverishly to produce a quality product for our enjoyment.

Where grand ideas of packing up and heading to the country for an extended leave do sound tempting…Let it be known, I am much better suited visiting the petting zoo than chasing after crazy notions of farm life. I am, however, incredibly appreciative to see the inner-workings of such a dietary staple of our culinary enjoyment and have a new-found respect for all the people and dedicated work that goes into Real California Milk.

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Shall we dish on dairy? I’m a nonfat organic kinda gal myself…

So many options and thoughts on the matter ~ I’m curious what you’re drinking and why!

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Huge hugs and thanks to the California Milk Advisory Board for bringing me out to the country and letting me learn a thing or two about cows, milk and how much diary a single person can consume in three days time. Check out more of  our dairy dash by searching for #CAMilkTour on Twitter and Instagram
 
UPDATE: A lot of people have asked me about the care conditions of the animals on my visit. I can legitimately tell you that the advertisements do not lie – California Cows are truly a happy (and healthy) bunch.  If you want to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes you can check out more information over here.