Homemade ads about milk reveal and surprise community

By Sherry Bunting, published in Farmshine, Friday, January 4, 2019

“Everything helps… Anything helps,” said Nelson Troutman. The Pennsylvania dairy farmer gave consumers in his area an early Christmas gift, and this gift of knowledge keeps giving in the New Year.

Frustrated by the forced emphasis on low- and non-fat milk promotion and seeing the need to draw attention to the simple healthy truth about milk, while planting the seed that consumers can ask for local milk, Troutman came up with his own promotion idea.

On December 11, he painted a wrapped round bale with the words “Drink LOCAL Whole MILK 97% FAT FREE!”

Then he placed the round bale in his pasture, where it is visible at the intersection of Wintersville and Stouchsburg Road near Richland, in the Lebanon/Berks area of Pennsylvania.

After all, whole milk is standardized to 3.25% fat content, making it virtually 97% fat-free — a point on the minds of consumers that milk labels and checkoff promotion have not been able to tap into.

“It was the cheapest and easiest thing to do, and I’ve gotten a lot of very nice and interesting comments,” said Troutman in an interview with Farmshine. “Today, I saw two ladies walking down the street. They had just passed the bale. I had no idea who they were. They saw me coming out the farm lane and waved. I am sure they were talking about the bale.”

Nearly three weeks after his round bale billboard was placed for the community and those passing through to see, Troutman said the gift keeps giving with new and continuing conversations.

“I am amazed at talking to people about this educational bale,” Troutman said Monday (Dec. 31). “People say to me that they did not know any milk is 97% fat-free, much less that the whole milk is 97% fat-free!”

Troutman uses their surprise at this revelation as a teachable moment.

“I explain that fat-free milk is 100% fat-free, 1% milk is 99% fat-free, 2% milk is 98% fat-free and whole milk — at 3.25% fat — is basically 97% fat-free. They are astounded,” he affirms. “So, I ask them what they thought any milk is, and they tell me that they never thought about it. When I ask them what they think the fat percentage of whole milk is, most answers were 10% to 20% fat. I actually had one man say he thinks whole milk is 50% fat! His wife made him drink 2% milk for that reason.”

So what is being gained with this message? Troutman gives an example. He said the man who confessed that he thought whole milk was 50% fat — upon hearing the truth — said he will never again drink 2% milk and has switched to whole milk while also being made aware of the local ties and how to find local brands.

What does all the milk confusion tell us about the success — or failure — of mandatory checkoff promotions? People are confused about so many things where milk is concerned. But the fat content should not continue to be one of their confusions. It is standardized and easy to demystify with a simple message, a simple sign, that opens the door to conversations that matter.

Troutman said he knows that the dairy farmers’ mandatory checkoff promotion organizations of American Dairy Association Northeast (ADANE) and Dairy Management Inc (DMI) — and even Allied Milk Producers — cannot advertise milk as 97% fat-free. He says there are government rules about putting this on the label or in a checkoff-funded campaign.

But, he believes it is high time for a grassroots promotion.

“We farmers can do this! It’s real education, and it sure beats the price of the milk mustache. Advertising is expensive, but we farmers have an edge. We live along roads and highways where we can put up signs, use our bales, silage bags, silos, barns, and wagons,” says Troutman.

“We also have friends that have agribusinesses in town that could use a sign. And there is Facebook, which is very powerful to the consume. We need the consumers in Pennsylvania to ask for whole Pennsylvania-produced milk at our restaurants, schools and stores,” he adds.

Troutman is definitely on to something, as people across the state and in other regions as well have complained all year on social media and at meetings and with photos of supermarket dairy shelves that whole milk is often not stocked to the density of the fat-free, low-fat and reduced fat milks.

In fact, as one producer in northern Pennsylvania noted recently, she has to order whole milk on ahead at her local store if she wants more than three gallons for an event. When asking the store manager why whole milk is not made more available in the dairy case, the store owner told her the reason is because it isn’t as healthy and contains too much fat!

Nelson Troutman’s simple idea is borne of frustration but with education and truth at its core, and it is easy to implement.

He says that dairy farmers are fed up with decades of their product being thrown under the bus by dietary guidelines and promotion restrictions leading people to believe — over time — that whole milk is full of fat. The labels do not even say 3.25% fat! And this has led to people having all kinds of inflated ideas about how much fat is in whole milk to begin with.

It is no wonder that even well-educated pediatricians mindlessly follow blindly the lies of omission — telling mothers to put their children on lower fat milks at age two because they falsely believe whole milk is more than 10% fat!

Troutman made his round bale sign and placed it in his pasture by a busy intersection to educate his community and to encourage other farmers and agribusinesses to use his idea to educate their communities.

“Maybe they want to do something on a bale or a wagon or a silage bag,” he said. “Everything helps… anything helps.”



9 thoughts on “Homemade ads about milk reveal and surprise community

      • Milk, like many foods, is labeled by fat as percentage of weight. Interestingly, ground beef labels by lean: 85% lean (15% fat), you get the idea. Whole Milk is 88% water, 5% carbohydrate, 3.5% protein and 3.25% fat.; Reduced fat is 2% fat (98% fat free); lowfat is 1% fat (99% fat free) and nonfat milk is 100% fat free. Protein and carbs also vary at those other fat percentages, meaning that the percentage of carbs and protein and water on a weight/volume basis are higher. Calories from fat on whole milk is 40 to 45%; however the percentage of calories from carbs goes up when the fat percentage comes down. In addition, those are nutrient dense calories and the fat includes both saturated and unsaturated including Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids! Riding along free with no caloric value is the 88% water (hydration) and the more than 9 essential nutrients, including protein being a complete protein with all 9 essential amino acids. The other nutrients in milk that make that fat count (and that the fat actually helps metabolize) are Calcium, Vit. D, Vit. A, Vit. B12, Riboflavin, Potassium, Phosphorus, Niacin, Zinc, Vitamins E, K, B5, B2.


      • Perhaps healthy in moderation, but it is not ideal for heart health to get all or most of one’s dietary fat from a primarily saturated source. Much as I love whole milk yogurt and cream, it is not a major part of my diet.


      • There is a lot of evidence to the contrary some of it buried for almost 20 years while the diet heart hypothesis took hold, and some of it newer and emerging. The fat in milk is not just saturated fat also included are mono and poly unsaturated including omegas. My husband would be a perfect example. his problem is he is low in the good cholesterol (HDL) which means he needs to eat more fat. In fact he sees one of the best cardiologist in our area actually one of the best in the East Coast. He needs to watch sugar and carbs. He can’t digest fat free milk anyway. Whole milk is no problem for him.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Homemade ads about milk reveal and surprise community — Ag Moos “Growing the Land” | Melkveebedrijf Stelling

  2. I too was taken in by the media and advertising hype. Several years ago we started buying 2% milk and even 1% on occasion, instead of whole milk. For supposed dietary and health benefits. Since reading these articles and being enlightened, we’ve switched back to 97% fat free whole milk again. This is a great effort and I’m proud of my cousin, Nelson Troutman, for opening our eyes !! I was born and raised in farm country, around my farming grandfather, uncles and cousins. We love the taste of Pennsylvania milk. It has a creamier, rich flavor like no others. We were drawn in by the negative publicity, didn’t research and just followed. Even though we live in NJ now, I still look for the Pennsylvania milk. The Pennsylvania Diary Farmers need our help. Spread the word and ‘Drink Whole Milk it’s 97% Fat free.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Federal prohibition of whole milk in schools challenged in PA Senate committee hearing | Ag Moos

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s