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Meet your dairy consumer: Gary Klein

PD Editor Dario Martinez Published on 09 February 2012

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HOW WE MET: I sat next to Gary on a recent flight from Phoenix to Minneapolis. We struck up a conversation talking about what each other did for a living.

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I told him I was a dairy magazine editor. I found out he is a consultant in energy efficiency and sustainability projects.

Gary’s main focus includes designing efficient hot water systems for homes and businesses. As we talked, we discussed how the projects he worked on also applied to dairies across the country.

Gary mentioned that his career had taken him to many places including the Kingdom of Lesotho, a country in Africa where he lived for several years.

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Gary Klein

Rancho Cordova, California
Managing Partner/Consultant
Affiliated International Management LLC

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When was the last time you visited a farm?

I don’t have a clue! I would say maybe a decade ago. It has been a while.

How close have you ever been to a cow?
Up-close and personal. I’ve never milked a cow, but I’ve been close enough to have milked a cow.

When I lived in Africa, I had to buy a cow for my marriage, and I’m pretty sure I had to be there for part of the slaughter.

I had made a proposal and in order to make sure it was for real and to consummate the marriage, you had to have a feast and a cow constituted the way you guaranteed that you had held the feast.

What dairy products do you most frequently buy?
Ice cream, yogurt, cheese and sometimes milk. We don’t buy as much any more because of the lactose intolerance in the household.

Why do you consume dairy products?
I like the way they taste. I also use it for protein. It’s a pretty good source of protein.

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How many gallons of milk do you buy in a month?
Less than one.

What is a good deal for a gallon of milk?
$4

How much is too much to pay for a gallon of milk?
$10

What is your favorite or most frequent time/place to consume dairy products?
Most often at breakfast, for milk or yogurts. Cheeses tend to be for lunches or dinners, or with wine and crackers.

What’s your favorite dairy brand?
I don’t think I really have one, usually whatever the store provides. For yogurt, I choose whatever Greek yogurt is currently on sale.

My wife and daughter like Yoplait. I like plain yogurt because I want to taste what it actually is, not the flavor.

If one-on-one with a dairy farmer, what question would you ask him or her?
What could I do to help you be more efficient in what you do?

What word would you use to describe the work of a dairy farmer?
Risky, given that you’re at the whim of nature and pricing that is outside of your control. I think it’s important work, providing good value to consumers, but it’s a huge risk.

Positive industry image:
Home-grown. It’s real hard to import from too far away.

Negative industry image:
Inhumane animal management conditions. It’s tough because I realize it’s a very industrialized business today, but we expect animals to be treated well in our society.

Who do you trust for information about your food?
This a really good question. I’m not sure I trust much of the government. I’m pretty sure I don’t trust the industry itself because it’s the “fox guarding the hen house” problem.

I would probably do some stuff through organizations like National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) or the Sierra Club. Then, I would read what the industry has to say and what the federal government has to say. I would use a mixed set of sources. PD

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QUIZ QUESTION

How many cows are there in the average California herd?
Gary: Between 500 and 1,000
Correct answer: 1,026

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Dario Martinez

Assistant Editor

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