Today, Monday 1st June, is World Milk Day, which is celebrated all over the world to mark the contributions of the dairy producers and farmers to economic development and our nutrition.
This year also marks World Milk Day’s 20 anniversary. To coincide with World Milk Day, the National Dairy Council (NDC) has produced a special themed three-minute ad break during the 6PM RTÉ news today.
This includes video messages from Love Island winner and Irish Rugby Sevens player Greg O’Shea and Irish boxer Kellie Harrington. Both Greg and Kelly are ambassadors for NDC’s ‘Everything Starts with Milk’ initiative, which is a European Milk Forum campaign, focused on encouraging Irish consumers to drink more quality milk from Europe.
The advert also includes real people from across Ireland who are ‘Raising a Glass’ to those they admire and are thankful for this World Milk Day!
So, why should we be appreciative of the glass of milk we have alongside our dinner, or the milk we use in our cereal bowls in the morning? There are a lot of reasons actually…
We are all unique with our own specific dietary needs, but there are key components that form the foundation of all healthy diets. These are outlined in the Department of Health’s dietary guidelines, which are depicted in the Healthy Ireland Food Pyramid (check out ndc.ie for more details on this). The Food Pyramid categorises foods into six different groups and provides guidelines on the number of servings to be eaten from each food group on a daily basis.
In relation to milk, in particular, the Department of Health’s Food Pyramid recommends three servings from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group each day, as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Between the ages of 9-18 years, five servings per day are recommended. Examples of one serving include 200ml of milk, 125g of yogurt, or 25g of hard cheese.
Dairy foods, including milk, are among the best sources of dietary calcium and phosphorus, which play a role in normal bone development and maintenance.
Milk is, in fact, naturally one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. Just 100ml is a source of eight essential nutrients – protein, riboflavin, vitamin B12, calcium, iodine, potassium, phosphorus, and pantothenic acid.
Did you know that milk is a Neolithic food? It is estimated that milk-drinking began around 7,500 years ago in central Europe. Research conducted by the University of York found that the majority of Neolithic Irish settlers were dairy farmers, with evidence of dairy products found in Irish pottery fragments.
So milk has long been a staple in the Irish diet! It’s delicious, affordable, and extremely versatile too. It can easily be incorporated into, and enjoyed as, a balanced, healthy diet.
For example, not only can you have milk as a stand-alone drink, but you can also have it in breakfast cereals, smoothies, soup, and it’s commonly used as a baking ingredient.
There are a variety of factors that influence our individual nutritional needs and if you’re a sports or exercise lover, a healthy, balanced diet is essential for meeting energy and nutrient demands.
Research is emerging on the specific benefits of milk in sport, and it contains nutrients that can help address the three ‘Rs of post-recovery: refuel, repair and rehydrate. In fact, a study conducted by the Department of Physical Education and Sports Sciences at University of Limerick indicates that milk may be more hydrating than water after exercise. The role of milk in hydration is that it provides us with fluid; carbohydrate in the form of lactose and electrolytes, which maximises its hydration potential.
This is what Greg O’Shea loves most about the nutritious drink, being part of the Irish Rugby Seven’s team. He says, “Maintaining a nutritional and well-balanced diet is essential when training, to ensure we are performing to our best ability. Dairy plays a crucial part in a balanced diet and I am a great supporter of the sporting benefits gained from drinking milk when it comes to hydration and recovery.”
The perfect post-performance recovery drink, milk is rich in protein – an important nutrient for muscle growth and maintenance – and provides a natural carbohydrate source to help refuel energy stores.
Ireland’s temperate climate and abundant rainfall are ideal conditions for a grass-fed system, with cows grazing outdoors for the majority of the year. Grazing on such rich pastureland means that our cows produce milk of incredible quality.
In addition to being top quality, milk is sustainably produced. In Ireland, approximately 99pc of the water used for milk production is supplied naturally by rainfall. With almost zero impact on water stress, Ireland is one of the best places in the world for sustainable milk production.
Dairy production is also a major contributor to the Irish economy, with export value reaching around €4 billion each year. The sector supports 60,000 jobs and for every €1 spent in the sector, an additional €2.50 is spent in the Irish economy.
And it’s important to celebrate the important part our dairy industry plays in our society. While we can’t necessarily do this in person until the Covid-19 restrictions lift, we can still collectively raise a ‘virtual glass’ of milk during National Dairy Council’s TV ad, to toast our dairy farmers and producers on World Milk Day.
National Dairy Council’s three-minute ad break celebrates what is truly special about Ireland. That is our unique way of farming, coupled with the passion of our dairy farmers, to produce high-quality dairy products. And, a nation of people that simply #LoveIrishDairy!
So join everyone in raising a glass today!
Visit ndc.ie for more information on dairy and join in the milk conversation on social media by using the hashtags: #WorldMilkDay #EnjoyDairy