San Diego, California
Hotel guest services/Shuttle driver
HOW WE MET: Ethan drove me from the airport to my hotel during a trip to San Diego for DMI/NMPF's annual meeting this past fall. Ethan is an avid San Diego State University Aztec sports fan.
His Aztecs were about to play Boise State, one of my favorite college football teams, the following weekend. We started out talking about football and then the conversation drifted into my work in the dairy industry. - Editor Walt Cooley
When was the last time you visited a farm?
20 years ago, I went to a u-pick pumpkin patch outside of San Diego.
How close have you ever been to a cow?
Very close. When I was little, we had a place out in the country. My neighbors had cows and my friends had cows. They were beef cows.
I’ve never milked a cow, but I’ve petted cows. However, I’ve never toppled a cow (gone cow-tipping).
What dairy products do you most frequently buy?
I’m a cheese-a-holic. I always have three types of cheese at home: Grated Romano, sharp or mild cheddar and generally sliced provolone, though I will occasionally get sliced Swiss. I get these from a local Italian deli.
Why do you consume dairy products?
They enhance all the foods that I eat. I put cheese on my tuna fish sandwich. And I love an egg-salad sandwich with toasted cheese. I always have a big glass of milk with a banana or an apple before I go to work.
How many gallons do you buy in a month?
Two gallons. It’s just me in the house.
What is a good deal for a gallon of milk?
$2.50 to $3. The price of a gallon of milk is more than the price of a gallon of gas in some supermarkets here.
How much is too much to pay for a gallon of milk?
What is your favorite or most frequent time/place to consume dairy products?
Generally from breakfast through lunch. Occasionally for dinner.
What’s your favorite dairy brand?
Smart Final brand (generic brand for chain grocer in California). I get 2-pound cheddar bricks for a little bit less than $5, which is a good deal.
If one-on-one with a dairy farmer, what question would you ask him or her?
What is the very last day it is safe to consume my non-fat gallon of milk? How set in stone is that expiration date? I go by taste and smell, but I generally don’t go three or four days past the printed expiration date.
What word would you use to describe the work of a dairy farmer?
Americana. I think of them getting up at dawn and getting their cows plugged into the machines and milk onto the trucks and to the processing plants.
Positive industry image: I equate dairy products with good health and a lot of protein. It’s rib-sticking, healthy food.
Negative industry image: I didn’t realize how much runoff (flush water) comes from dairy farms. They have to keep them so clean and sterile when milking cows. I was talking to someone from a community in the Central Valley.
According to him, the runoff had really screwed up the water table in his rural town. There are a lot of chemicals used in cleaning the stalls and milking machines, too.
Who do you trust for information about your food?
I’m not a big Internet or computer guy. I’d say a newspaper. PD
How many cows are there in the average California herd?
Correct answer: 1,026