Providing Safe, Nutritious Food

I Like You a Latte

by Kim Kirchherr
Latte
One of my favorite ways to celebrate the turn of seasons is with menu items that taste just like you want them to. When the weather is hot, we love our crisp salads, cool soups like gazpacho, and refreshing beverages like ice water, lemonade, and iced tea. As the chillier weather hits, it’s time to crack out the casseroles, soups and stews, and of course, “everyone’s” favorite — the pumpkin spice latte.
This tasty treat has been on the menu since 2003, when a (former) Stanford athlete invented it. It’s still a seasonal favorite today, and that “season” continues to extend earlier and later in the year. In fact, it was fun to learn that pumpkin flavored dog food actually outperformed pumpkin coffee last year. Could it be more obvious how much people love their pets and include them in food festivities? Speaking of which, let’s talk about the farmers behind the flavors in our PSL (pumpkin spice latte) that also pair wonderfully with chocolate!
Kim Kirchherr
Kim Kirchherr is a registered dietitian and ACSM Certified Personal Trainer who lives in Chicago.
We may often hear stories, or at least a mention or two, about coffee farmers and pumpkin farmers. Did you ever think about the farmers who bring us the rest of the flavors each season? Here’s some spicy news about some of the other ingredients stirring in our cup. When you read about each individual ingredient, it makes even more sense why our latte love runs deep.

Whipped Cream and Milk

Many people don’t realize that dairy is local around the world — or that an enormous amount of care goes into dairy farming. Farmers are doing more all the time to ensure nutritious foods and beverages are available for us while honoring the natural resources it takes to grow and raise our food — all this while caring for their animals every day.
Illustration of a latte with cream
If you ever get a chance to visit a dairy farm, you’ll see this come to life in many ways, from a carefully planned menu that gives the animals proper nutrition, to automatic brushes for cows (like a giant back scratcher for us) and fans/misters for cooling. Picture a cow — literally — chilling with her friends (cows are herd animals, so regardless of how much space you give them, they hang out in groups — kind of like we do when we get our lattes and go shopping together!) Picture these cows on farms next time you are ordering your favorite coffee drink. There are all kinds of good, innovative things happening on farms of all types to ensure cows are comfortable, healthy, and getting the care they need. Not unlike how we strive to take care of ourselves.
Making your favorite latte with milk means you are getting a nutritious boost with every delicious sip, too. We are faced with so many beverage choices. It’s fun to see how many have taken on the attributes that are inherently found in milk. Protein, calcium, potassium? Yep, milk has that and more.
Cinnamon

Cinnamon

It’s pretty amazing to think that people have been using cinnamon for thousands of years. Did you know this classic, fragrant favorite actually comes from the bark of a tree? At one point, it was viewed as a status symbol. Perhaps this is one of the ingredients in our lattes that make it feel so special — and why in earlier times it was one of the ingredients that was paired with chocolate to make an aromatic, rich beverage that is still enjoyed today.

Cinnamon

It’s pretty amazing to think that people have been using cinnamon for thousands of years. Did you know this classic, fragrant favorite actually comes from the bark of a tree? At one point, it was viewed as a status symbol. Perhaps this is one of the ingredients in our lattes that make it feel so special — and why in earlier times it was one of the ingredients that was paired with chocolate to make an aromatic, rich beverage that is still enjoyed today.

Ginger

A perennial plant that is native to Asia, this lovely, aromatic addition to our lattes and dishes year ‘round has been used in India and China since ancient times. It has made its way around the world adding its zesty flavor and enhancing meals wherever it goes. Farmers grow ginger by planting cuttings of the root stalk. The part we eat is called the rhizome. It’s a favorite worldwide not only for its flavor but for some health benefits, too. Fun fact: Queen Elizabeth I is credited with inventing another holiday favorite, the gingerbread man.
Illustration of ginger rhizome

Vanilla

This fragrant favorite can be found in more than 18,000 products. Vanilla originated in Mexico and found its way to Europe in 1519. The bees that pollinate this delightful flower were not native to Europe, so there was no vanilla. Imagine a world without vanilla! Fortunately, back in 1841, some great minds came up with the arduous but effective technique of hand pollinating, which is actually still in use today. It’s funny how something that had been revered can take on such an everyday persona over time, isn’t it? That’s why revisiting the story of some of these ingredients is such a fun and important part of the total farm-to-table story. The “why” and “where” of food matters, down to the last ingredient.
Illustration of nutmeg fruit

Nutmeg

It seems obvious that a spice would come from somewhere called “the Spice Islands”, doesn’t it? This one does — in Indonesia, to be exact. That delightful little something extra in eggnog? It’s nutmeg.

It comes from the seed of a tropical evergreen tree and has a warm, sweet taste with a pungent fragrance. At one time, this, too, was an expensive spice. Nutmeg trees can give us spice for 60 years and grow to 65 feet tall. Kind of makes you wonder how it’s harvested up that high, doesn’t it?

Nutmeg

It seems obvious that a spice would come from somewhere called “the Spice Islands”, doesn’t it? This one does — in Indonesia, to be exact. That delightful little something extra in eggnog? It’s nutmeg.

It comes from the seed of a tropical evergreen tree and has a warm, sweet taste with a pungent fragrance. At one time, this, too, was an expensive spice. Nutmeg trees can give us spice for 60 years and grow to 65 feet tall. Kind of makes you wonder how it’s harvested up that high, doesn’t it?

Illustration of nutmeg fruit

Cloves

It may not surprise you that cloves also come from a type of evergreen tree, like nutmeg. They’re also from the Spice Islands, and they deliver a pungent aroma. Cloves are harvested by hand September through October, and often require climbing quite high and searching for them in thick foliage. Cloves are used in cooking, cosmetics, and medicines.

Spices help convey the story and feeling of each season through favorite scents and flavors, whether they’re on their own and aromatic (like you’d experience in that latte we love) or they’re blended into a favorite dish. It’s a gift to learn more about all your favorite ingredients, foods and beverages — and the farmers that make them possible.


Kim Kirchherr is a paid contributor to Farm Meets Table.

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Frank Rotte
March 13, 2019 - 02:18 PM

"Farmers are doing more all the time to ensure nutritious foods and beverages are available for us while honoring the natural resources it takes to grow and raise our food — all this while caring for their animals every day." -- how does this go together with factory farming and animal abuse? I had hoped to find actual facts and less greenwashing / idealization around agriculture on a website maintained by a science company like Bayer. The conditions in many dairy farms are terrible and production is just geared towards output and low price.

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Farm Meets Table Team
March 13, 2019 - 04:13 PM

Hi Frank,

Thanks for visiting and for your comment. We agree that animal well-being is absolutely vital. This is why our colleagues at Animal Health actively collaborate with veterinarians, farmers and other partners around the world to advance animal well-being in practical ways. Driving improvements in animal well-being is a collective responsibility and one that's more effectively achieved collaboratively. You can find out a little more about their contribution in this area on their site: https://animalhealth.bayer.com/our-business/animal-well-being .

- The Farm Meets Table Team

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