Community, Local foods, Local Resources, Product info

#MilkMonday a win-win for NEIA Food Bank, Hansen’s Dairy

By Jordan Hansen

Hansen’s Dairy has a long-standing relationship with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. Now, with the help of the Farm Bureau, Fareway grocery stores, and customers like you, our partnership is about to grow.

Black Hawk County Farm Bureau board members Brad Jesse and Len Orth spearheaded an initiative to increase donations of milk to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank and improve demand of dairy farmers’ products.

MilkMonday_BlackHawk_HansensThe initiative, called #MilkMonday, will begin on Monday, April 1, and run every Monday through June (National Dairy Month). Fareway grocery shoppers will have the opportunity to round up their total purchase to the nearest dollar to help provide milk to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. Hansen’s Dairy shoppers can also round up their purchase, or they can decide to purchase an extra gallon that will go directly to the Food Bank.

The NEIA Food Bank is located in Waterloo, and serves as a hub for food programs and pantries in a 16-county area: Allamakee, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw, Delaware, Fayette, Floyd, Grundy, Hardin, Howard, Mitchell, Poweshiek, Tama and Winneshiek.

All Fareway stores in the 16-county region will be participating. Waterloo Fareway Manager Allen Weimerskirch also reported that the Fareway corporation has decided to match up to the first $2,500 raised in the initiative.

Northeast Iowa Food Bank, #MilkMonday
Representatives from Farm Bureau, Fareway, the Food Bank and I kicked off the #MilkMonday initiative on National Ag Day, March 14, 2019. The Farm Bureau gave an initial donation of $1,000, which comprised funds from Black Hawk, Winneshiek, Allamakee and Tama county Farm Bureaus.

The #MilkMonday program will allow the Food Bank to purchase more milk from our farm, which is already supplying the Food Bank with about 50,000 gallons of milk each year through a combination of sales and donations.

Our relationship with the Food Bank is mutually beneficial, and we see it as an important way to give back to our community.

First, a little background into how it all started.

You need it, we’ve got it

When cows are milked, they naturally produce what’s called “whole” milk. The fat percentage of our whole milk is about 3.5%. The milk can be run through a separator to produce two different products: skim milk, which is our biggest seller; and heavy cream, which is bottled itself and also used to make butter and ice cream. For every 10 gallons of whole milk, it will separate into 1 gallon of cream and 9 gallons of skim milk.

Hansen's Dairy, heavy cream, separator
Cream from the separator flows into the holding tank.

For several years now, the supply and demand of cream and skim coming from our farm has been a little out of balance. We need that cream to make those high-demand (yummy) products, but we’re just left with way too much skim milk than what our customers demand. Sometimes, in order to have enough cream, that skim milk would literally go down the drain.

Enter the Northeast Iowa Food Bank and Barb Prather, executive director, who just happens to live in our town.

“Milk is one of the harder items for us to keep in stock for the people we serve,” Barb said. “And it’s such an important part of daily nutrition, giving young kids as well as adults the essential vitamins and calcium they need.”

We agree. So in July 2016, we formulated a plan where the Food Bank would purchase skim milk from us at a reduced rate, and we would donate more gallons on top of that. We are at about a 3:2 ratio — for every three gallons of milk the Food Bank buys, we donate two gallons. In 2018, we donated nearly 19,000 gallons of skim milk.

skim milk, farm to fork, farm to table, Hansen's Dairy
Skim milk is bottled at Hansen’s Dairy.

This has benefited both of our organizations in several ways:

  • We avoid dumping perfectly good milk down the drain.
  • The Food Bank receives extremely fresh milk — sometimes just bottled at our farm that day — instead of getting close-to-expiration milk that may be cast off from grocery stores.
  • We get paid for most of the milk, while also donating some and taking advantage of the state of Iowa’s Farm to Food Tax Credit.
  • Our delivery team can efficiently drop a lot of milk at one location.
  • The Food Bank has distribution points to share the milk across Northeast Iowa.
Hansen's Dairy delivery truck
Delivery Manager Brent Hansen loads up crates of milk for his next route.

We salute the Farm Bureau members to spearhead this effort to benefit us dairy farmers while getting nutritious food to those who need it.

“As farmers, we have a calling to help feed people and take care of those in our communities,” said Ben Bader, Black Hawk County Farm Bureau president. “And you don’t have to be a farmer to realize being able to pull the whole community together to provide milk to families in need is part of the ‘farm strong’ spirit we all embrace.”

To help bring awareness to the event, grocery shoppers are encouraged to spread the word using #MilkMonday on social media.

Will you “round up” for the Food Bank?

Cooking with the Hansens, Farm animals, Local foods, Product info

Our farm’s juicy secret: Wagyu beef

wagyupieceHave you heard the buzz about our newest product on the farm? It’s actually not a dairy product.
Our newest venture is in Wagyu-Holstein beef. That’s kind of a mouthful —literally!
Wagyu, a breed of Japanese beef cattle, may not be a familiar term to most people. But it’s actually the breed behind the famous Kobe beef that you see on restaurant menus.
Real Kobe beef actually comes from the Tajima bloodline of Japanese Black Wagyu cattle, and it must be raised, fed and slaughtered in the Hyogo prefecture of Japan. Many U.S. restaurants may put “Kobe” beef on the menu, but in truth, only a handful are certified to serve it (check out this article from Business Insider for more on that topic).
These Wagyu-Holstein ribeyes have excellent marbling.

Highly desirable beef

So what’s so great about it? Wagyu (pronounced “wahg-you”) is widely regarded as highly desirable beef due to:
  • Superior marbling, shown in raw meat as tiny white dots or a spider web of ultra-thin veins throughout the muscle, which results in tender texture 
  • Rich, buttery flavor
  • Healthy, monounsaturated fatty acids — especially oleic acid, which is responsible for flavor. These monounsaturated fats have a lower melting point, below human body temperature, so they literally melt in your mouth. Monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels, which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Starting a Wagyu herd

Blake Hansen, Hansen’s Dairy co-owner and herd manager, first heard about Wagyu beef about four years ago from family friends in Des Moines. They were raising a few head just to feed to their own family, and one taste-test had Blake hooked.
This family raised both full-blood cows (mother and father are both Wagyu) and Jersey crossbreeds (Jersey mother and Wagyu father). That got Blake thinking about crossing Wagyus with his Holsteins and offering a very nice selection of meat to customers who already knew us by our dairy products. Blake actually preferred the taste of the crossbreed to the full-blood. Because it wasn’t as rich, he could eat more of it. 😉
One of the Hansens’ Wagyu-Holsteins
The first step was finding the semen. Our dairy cows are artificially inseminated so that we don’t have to keep live bulls on the farm. This provides a lot of genetic variety without having to house and feed bulls and worry about their temper. So to have a crossbred Wagyu-Holstein, we would breed a Holstein female with Wagyu semen.
Blake discovered that Wagyu cattle are typically butchered at 27-29 months old, as they gain the most marbling after 24 months. This is in contrast to more well-known breeds of beef cattle raised in Iowa, which are usually butchered at around 14-16 months.
So this is where things got hard to predict. How much demand would there be for this new beef? When you add up the time it takes for a cow to become pregnant, carry the calf for 9 months, and then raise the calf to 28 months of age, that’s more than three years. And he had to choose how many cows to breed to this Wagyu semen, and how often, because a pregnancy is never guaranteed. In the end, he decided to aim for one or two cows to be butchered each month.
Just like our dairy cows, the Wagyu-Holsteins are raised with great care and quality feed throughout their lives. They are housed in the same pens and fed the same diet as the dairy cows. We do not use growth hormones or preventive antibiotics, and we grow the majority of their feed — corn silage and alfalfa hay silage — on our own land. The genetic traits of Wagyu cattle just naturally result in better meat quality even on the same diet as a dairy cow. 


Our first Wagyu-Holstein cow went to the meat locker (we use Marks Locker in Rowley, Iowa) in August 2018. We developed a great partnership with the new restaurant Table 1912, located in the Jorgensen Plaza development of the Western Home in Cedar Falls, to feature this beef on their menu. The Western Home Communities have purchased our dairy products for almost as long as we’ve been producing them, and their restaurant concept is focused on farm-to-table fine dining. They source many of their ingredients from Iowa farmers, so they were excited to be the exclusive server of this new local beef.
We also began selling the meat cuts privately to individuals. A Waterloo Courier article about our beef garnered national attention, as it was picked up by the Associated Press and published in more than 40 newspapers across the country, including the Miami Herald (Fla.), US News & World Report, Washington Times (D.C.) and Houston Chronicle (Texas). Not bad for a small-town Iowa farm.

Try some for yourself

Is your mouth watering yet? Here are some things to know when preparing it:
  • Small serving sizes. Wagyu is very tender and has a buttery flavor. Steak serving sizes are typically smaller because of the rich flavor profile. 
  • Faster cooking time. Wagyu cooks faster than other beef. It is recommended that steaks are cooked to no more than medium rare for optimum palatability.
  • Juicy hamburger. Wagyu-Holstein beef is about 90% lean.
We sell our Wagyu-Holstein hamburger in bulk and patties at our Waterloo and Cedar Falls stores for $8/pound. We don’t sell the finer cuts of meat in our stores because of limited quantities and higher price point. If you are interested in purchasing prime cuts of our Wagyu-Holstein beef, call Blake Hansen at (319) 610-1530. As of this post, there are several cuts available, including roasts, short ribs, top sirloins, New York strips, ribeyes and filets, ranging in price from $16 to $100 per pound.
Farm animals, For kids, Health, Product info, Quiz

Test Your Knowledge of Hansen’s Dairy!

This month, Hudson’s 4th grade class visited Hansen’s Dairy for an educational field trip. To test their listening skills, we put together this 20-question quiz.

Have YOU visited the Hansen’s farm lately? Want to test your knowledge about Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy? Give the quiz below a shot!

Or, if you’re curious to learn more about Hansen’s Dairy and their products, call 319-939-2187 to schedule a tour of the farm and creamery!

Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy Quiz  

1)      How much water does a cow drink in a day?

1 gallon                 20 gallons            40 gallons

2)      About how much food does a cow eat in a day?

90 lbs                             120 lbs                  140 lbs

3)      What is a baby kangaroo called?

Joey                              Kid                          Bobby

4)      Do male kangaroos have pouches?

Yes                 No

5)      What’s in the silos?

Corn silage                  Milk                       Beans

6)      About how much does a full grown dairy cow weigh?

1,000 lbs                       1,400 lbs               2,000 lbs

7)      What breed of cows do the Hansens have?

Holsteins     Guernseys          Angus

8)      How many times a day do the Hansens milk their cows?

Once                             Twice                    3 Times

9)      Where did the original wallabies come from?

New Zealand                      France                  United States

10)   How many stomachs does a cow have?

One                               Two                       Four

11)   Are cows herbivores or carnivores?

Herbivores                  Carnivores

12)   How long is a cow’s gestation period?

4 months                     9 months             12 months

13)   About how many gallons of milk does a cow produce each day?

10 gallons                    20 gallons            30 gallons

14)   At what temperature does the milk come out of the cow?

80 degrees                  101 degrees       202 degrees

15)   How big are calves when they’re born?

40-60 lbs                      80-100 lbs            120-140 lbs

16)   What is a young female cow called?

Heifer                           Guilt                      Filly

17)   What do the Hansen’s do with their bull calves?

Sell them                     Milk them           Keep them as pets

18)   What does pasteurization do?

Adds flavor                                 Removes the fat              Kills bacteria

19)   Which dairy product do the Hansen’s NOT produce?

Butter                           Cheese Curds                    Yogurt

20) How many teats (“spigots”) does an udder have?

3                              4                              5


1) 40 gallons           2) 90 pounds                    3) Joey                  4) No

5) Corn Silage          6)  1,400                       7) Holsteins             8) Twice

9) New Zealand           10) Four                       11) Herbivores           12) 9 months

13) 10 gallons          14) 101 degrees           15) 80-100 pounds        16) Heifer

17) Sell them           18) Kills bacteria             19) Yogurt            20) 4

Health, Product info, Your questions

Raw milk vs. Pasteurized milk…

There is a global debate about raw milk happening. In several countries, including the U.S., there are serious conversations taking place about whether people should drink, and especially whether they should be able to purchase, raw milk. The point of this post is not to advocate for or against either side. The purpose is to provide you with information and to let you know our policies and why we have them.

Here is raw milk going through the pasteurizer in the Hansen creamery. Our milk is pasteurized at 165 degrees for 15 seconds.
Here is raw milk going through the pasteurizer in the Hansen creamery. Our milk is heated to a temperature of at least 161 degrees for 15 seconds.

First, a few definitions. Pasteurization involves heating milk (or any food or liquid) to a certain temperature and then immediately cooling it to slow the growth of microbes and bacteria. This keeps the product from going bad as quickly as it might otherwise. High temperature, short time (HTST) pasteurization, which is what we use at Hansen’s, kills 99.999% of viable micro-organisms in the milk (like yeasts, molds, bacteria, and pathogens). Just a reminder – although we DO pasteurize our milk, we do not homogenize it (shake that jug, folks!).

When people talk about “raw milk” they mean milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized. Until the 1890s, everyone drank raw milk because pasteurization wasn’t common practice yet. Pasteurization became widely practiced after the development of germ theory and the discovery of bacteria. It was thought that some diseases common in cows were transmitted to humans in raw milk. Since not every farmer’s milk could be tested, it was considered safer to pasteurize all of the milk.

Some people believe that pasteurization damages nutrients in the milk (such as calcium) and kills “good” bacteria that are beneficial to the digestive tract and our immune systems. The argument for raw milk is that these good bacteria help maintain a healthy balance in our bodies and make our immune systems stronger.

Proponents of raw milk believe that if it has been “produced under sanitary and healthy conditions” it is safe and even healthy to drink (Campaign for Real Milk). An important point is that even people who advocate for raw milk believe that for it to be considered safe, the milk must come from cows that are “healthy (tested free of TB and undulant fever) and do not have any infections (such as mastitis).” Raw milk should come from cows fed grass, hay, silage, and only a little bit of grain; the cows should be milked in a clean area and the milk should be refrigerated right away.

There are three primary sources of contaminants in milk: from within the cow’s udder, from the outside of the udder, and from handling and storage equipment. Experts agree that if a cow is sick, there is bacteria in her milk. But in a healthy cow, the milk in her udder is virtually sterile. Even in healthy cows, some bacteria are present in different parts of the teats, and that bacteria can enter the milk. But it’s usually in very low levels in a healthy cow.

Why the debate? Well, you can see that raw milk has to come from pretty special cows and special farms. Most large scale, commercial dairy operations are not going to have the kind of conditions that were just described. Only 28 U.S. states allow the sale of raw milk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration recommend not consuming raw milk. The CDC notes that 79% of disease outbreaks associated with dairy between 1998 and 2011 were due to raw milk or cheese.

Where do we stand at Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy? Well, first off, our cows are healthy and well-cared for. Our facilities are very clean. But we do not sell raw milk and we do not plan to sell raw milk. Most dairy farmers don’t want to put themselves at risk for liability. It’s also bad for the dairy industry as a whole, because if there was an outbreak of sick people, the media fallout would damage an industry that already has a shaky public perception. The problem is that it depends on the consumer to store and drink it safely. People can buy raw meat or eggs because the consumer can cook those foods properly to kill any bacteria. With raw milk, we don’t have safeguard. Unpredictable, unpreventable, uncontrollable things happen during milking time that can affect the bacteria content in the milk. For example: if the cow kicks off her machine, it becomes a vacuum cleaner for whatever is in the area. That’s why we drink pasteurized milk.

At Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy, we provide our customers with a high-quality product. Our cows are treated well and not given any hormones or antibiotics in their feed. We treat the milk as minimally as possible – very quick pasteurization and no homogenization – because we want it to be fresh, delicious, and healthy.

We don’t believe the health debate should be between pasteurized and raw milk. We believe it should be between pasteurization and homogenization. In other words, raw milk proponents blame pasteurization for everything. Maybe they should be blaming homogenization instead. Some people who claim to be lactose intolerant can drink our milk, and we think that’s because of the damage done to milk via homogenization. Read more about homogenization in our blog post about the topic.

Local foods, Product info

Artisanal Micro-Roaster Jed Vander Zanden Strives for Perfection, Says Hansen’s is Perfect

You may have noticed a new product in the Hansen’s stores recently…or perhaps a new aroma – coffee! We are now carrying coffee from Sidecar Coffee Roasters, a new and very local business in Cedar Falls. We’ve had a lot of questions about the new coffee, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to tell you a bit more about Sidecar and the man behind the whole operation. This is the first in a series of features that we will post on the product lines we carry at Hansen’s stores. Aaron McNally, local poet, writer, grad student, and Moo Roo employee, wrote this feature on Sidecar.

When Jed Vander Zanden sets out to roast a batch of coffee beans, he has a lot on his mind.

“Every time you get a different coffee you have to figure out how to develop it,” he explains. “The longer you roast it, you gain some things and you lose some things. It’s a matter of finding the balance of time and air and heat to really get it where you actually nail it. You go way too dark, you get that carbony bitter dirt flavor. If you don’t go dark enough, it’s equally bad.”

Throughout the roasting process, Jed has to constantly monitor the progress of the beans.
Throughout the roasting process, Jed has to constantly monitor the progress of the beans.

The Ethiopian bean he’s working with today “is a wild coffee, it’s funky. It’s really good. I’ve been trying to figure out how to roast it now for it seems like forever. It’s been fun—it’s a real challenge. I’ve gotten to where I actually think it tastes good, it’s just this never-ending pursuit of making it better.” What are his goals for this particular bean? “I just wanna see if I can tweak the profile a little bit. Maybe stretch it out a little longer or speed it up. see if I can get a little more balance, a little more body, a little more sweetness. Which is a little harder in a really dark roast.”

 Jed can perfectly control the freshness of his product by constantly monitoring and refreshing his inventory. His small batch coffee stands out in stark comparison to nation-wide suppliers.

Jed prides himself on controlling every element of his roasting process, from selecting the perfect beans to making sure he has the freshest coffee on the shelf. This is something that only a local, small roaster can do to perfection. In a larger operation, “the level of precision that they achieve is not anything like this,” he says. “I can adjust and modify the profile within ten to twenty seconds, just by controlling the air and temperature. The amount of variability I can create with this type of roaster is just entirely different.”


In addition, Jed can perfectly control the freshness of his product by constantly monitoring and refreshing his inventory. His small batch coffee stands out in stark comparison to nation-wide suppliers. With larger operations, “we’re talking about millions of pounds a day being roasted. Then it goes to a warehouse. Then it goes to a distribution center. Then it goes to a secondary place before making it to the shelf. Who knows? It could be three months, it could be nine months old. Coffee is perishable, like anything. The flavor compounds, the essential oils, they all dissipate, they go rancid.”

Jed says that the “sweet spot” for coffee freshness is about one to three weeks. Every bag that he has on display at Hansen’s is stamped with the roast date, so that our customers can determine for themselves whether the product is fresh enough for their liking.

 “People who like really good stuff, care about it being local, people who want value but aren’t opposed to paying for quality. That’s Hansen’s.”

Beyond that guarantee of freshness, Jed is also very excited to be selling at Hansen’s Outlet and MooRoo stores for other reasons. He says that Hansen’s customers are the perfect customers for his coffee: “People who like really good stuff, care about it being local, people who want value but aren’t opposed to paying for quality. That’s Hansen’s. Really good milk, cheese, eggs, butter—all those things. Everything Hansen’s provides is stuff that I want to buy. Every week, for my shopping, I have my Hansen’s list. There isn’t a better place for this coffee than Hansen’s.”

In particular, Jed is a fan of Hansen’s whole milk, and prefers it to Half & Half in his coffee.  “The milk makes this coffee taste so good. It adds a whole depth of sweetness. I always think that the fat content of Half & Half kind of coats the roof of your mouth, limiting the palate. But the whole milk seems to mix in perfectly.”

Vander Zanden moved to Cedar Falls with his wife, a professor at UNI, two years ago. He has lived in Indiana, Colorado, and D.C., though he grew up here in the Midwest—in Wisconsin. He’s very excited to be in an area where local businesses seem to be popping up and thriving. His coffee business seems to be doing very well here. “I’m loving that it’s growing organically, slowly and steadily, by word of mouth,” he explains.

Here you can see the finished product in comparison to the original, raw bean.

Come meet Jed on March 16th at Hansen’s Moo Roo location. He’ll be performing a tasting from 1-3 p.m., and will be happy to answer any questions and explain more about his roasting process.

Local Resources, Product info

This Christmas, buy local: Top 5 gifts from Hansen’s Dairy

There are just 12 shopping days left before Christmas. Sure, you can get food staples at our stores, but did you know we have some great gifts too? If you are looking for unique, local ideas for the Hansen’s milk lover or foodie on your list, here are our Top 5 Gifts from Hansen’s Dairy.

Left: The youngest member of the Hansen family wears a “Milk-Fed” onesie. They come in blue, yellow and pink. (He’s wearing a separate shirt underneath.) Right: The other T-shirts are for adults and children.

Insulated bags come in gold, red and purple — perfect to match your favorite state school.

5. Sport your Hansen Dairy pride all over town with a Hansen’s Insulated Bag or T-shirt. The insulated bags are great for transporting cold goods. Just keep it in your car for a space-saving cooler. (As a bonus, you could fill the bag with our dairy products before giving to the recipient.) We also have different sizes of shirts for each member of the family. All T-shirts have our logo on the back:

All adults: “Legend-Dairy” T-shirts

Ladies: “Fresh from the Farm” V-neck T-shirts

Children: “Milk-Fed” or “Moo Roo” T-shirts

Infants: “Milk-Fed” short-sleeved onesies

4. How about an All-Iowa Breakfast Basket? Include Wildwood Farms Pancake Mix from Holland; a pound of Beeler’s bacon from Lemars, or Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon from hogs raised in Iowa; a dozen eggs from Craig and Darlene Groothuis in Nashua; in a tub of Hansen’s butter; Faber’s Pure Maple Syrup from Bert; and honey from Tim Laughlin in Grundy Center.

3. Everyone loves a gift card. We can do them in any denomination. The best part? The recipient gets 10% off dairy products when they use it. So if you give that person a $30 gift card, it’s actually worth $33 in dairy products. And when those funds have run out, they can put more money on it and continue to get the discount. (Note: Make sure to purchase the card at the store where the person will be using it. The systems don’t transfer so Moo Roo has separate gift cards from the Outlet.)


2. What better way to enjoy Hansen’s milk or egg nog than in a set of Hansen’s drinking glasses? These are new this year. They are 13 oz. clear glasses with a wide base. There are four separate designs in different colors (brown, red, black, and dark green). Buy separately for $5 each or a set of four for $16.

1. A cheese basket. Most of the cheeses come from Wisconsin (except for Hansen’s famous cheese curds). You can also include a variety of other meats, candies, nuts, jams and related items. We have some premade baskets or you can choose your own items. Great snacks for holiday get-togethers. Print the custom form from the homepage of our website or pick up from Moo Roo in Waterloo, the Outlet in Cedar Falls or the farm in Hudson.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Written by Jordan Hansen

Community, Product info

Buttery Goodness…[Giveaway]

Ok, so today is nowhere near as hot as it’s been lately. But I guarantee that one of these days soon the temp will be back up somewhere ridiculous and we’ll be staring outside from our air conditioned kitchen windows again. So today, because it’s Friday, we’re giving away something to brighten your kitchen…One Hansen’s butter bell!


This butter bell is a unique way to keep your butter fresh on the counter, soft and ready to spread at any moment! So exciting! It’s got our logo on it, too.

To enter, leave a comment with your answer to this question:

What’s your favorite way to beat the heat?

Post your answer by noon on Friday, August 3. One lucky reader will be selected at random. BUT, please note: the winner will need to pick up their butter bell at the Cedar Falls Outlet or the Waterloo Moo Roo, so please keep that in mind when you enter!

Product info

Hansen’s Milk and Homogenization


Most milk sold in stores has two statements on the label: pasteurized and homogenized. “Pasteurized” means that the milk has gone through a heating process to kill bacteria. We pasteurize our milk, as required by state law in order to sell it. We will write a post on that, too, but it will come later. “Homogenized” means that the milk has been processed to break up fat particles and distribute them evenly.

Our milk is NOT homogenized!

Why? Well, first a little background…

When milk is in its natural state, it separates into two “parts”: the fat globules form a cream layer on top, and the fat-depleted liquid full of protein is left below. Homogenization was developed in France (c. 1900) to prevent this separation. Hot milk is pumped through very small holes at super high pressure. This tears the fat globules into smaller pieces that are evenly distributed through the liquid because there is greater surface area for the protein in the milk to stick to. The fat globules in homogenized milk are more protein-heavy than in non-homogenized milk (Source 1, below).

Because enzymes in milk are broken down into much smaller pieces, they are able to enter a person’s bloodstream and potentially injure the arterial walls. The body protects those areas by producing cholesterol which, if done often, can be problematic (Source 4, below). Research shows that when the enzymes enter the blood stream, hardening of the arteries can occur. Non-homogenized milk is left in its natural state and the enzymes are not small enough to enter the blood stream (Sources 2-4, below).

Some research has shown that all this protein on the fat globules can increase the likelihood that homogenized milk will cause allergic reactions. Our bodies react to foreign proteins (in this case, milk proteins from cows) by making histamines and mucus, and sometimes even triggering auto-immune diseases (Sources 2-4, below).

Initially, the reason we chose not to homogenize is because it would have put our milk through another process. We wanted to keep the milk in its most natural state possible. Homogenization also requires more equipment space, time and money in the bottling process. Since it wasn’t required of us, why do it?

Offering non-homogenized (or “creamline”) milk has required some consumer education. All of our milk, even skim, should be shaken before each serving to redistribute the cream that has risen to the top. We have “SHAKE” written on the label under the expiration date to remind customers. Most people are pretty used to it by now.

We now realize the decision to not homogenize has served us — and our customers — well. What a happy side effect to often hear from customers who are lactose intolerant that they are able to drink our milk. Children who cannot tolerate cow’s milk (even organic) are sometimes able to drink Hansen’s milk. This is a big deal, and we are proud to promote health in our community!


  1. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, by Harold McGee (fantastic book!!), has a chapter on Milk and Dairy Products. It’s available as an e-book.
  2. (compilation of research on both sides of the debate)
  4. Natural News
Product info, Your questions

Your questions answered: Nutritional value of cheese curds

When we get questions from you on the blog, we will do our best to answer them ASAP. Our very first question (!) was about the nutritional value of the cheese curds we produce.

So, here’s the scoop:

Hansen’s White Cheddar Cheese Curds

Serving size: 1 oz

Per serving –

  • Calories: 110
  • Calories from fat: 80
  • Total fat: 9 g (14% daily value)
  • Saturated fat: 5 g (27% daily value)
  • Trans fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 30 mg (9% daily value)
  • Sodium: 180 mg (8% daily value)
  • Total carbohydrate: 0 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Vitamin A: 6%
  • Vitamin C: 0%
  • Calcium: 20%
  • Iron: 0%

Ingredients: Pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes (vegetable rennet)

Here’s a photo of Brad and Michael packing cheese curds in the creamery…

Product info

It’s about the milk…

It all started with the milk. We sell many different products in our stores, but the most fundamental product is our milk.

What’s so special about our milk?

It’s locally produced and processed. When our milk and cream get to your table, they may be only a few hours old. We grow the feed that our cows eat, we have a contained herd of happy cows that produce delicious milk, we process the milk in our on-farm creamery, and we deliver it ourselves to local stores, restaurants, and establishments.

It’s non-homogenized. Most of the milk sold in stores is homogenized. This means that the fat particles are broken down into tiny pieces. In natural milk, the cream rises to the top. Homogenization distributes the fat throughout the milk. In our non-homogenized milk, the fat particles are in their natural state. Some people with lactose intolerance are able to drink Hansen’s milk, and it could be because we leave our milk alone! Since the cream rises to the top, remember to shake well. (Note: All of our milk is pasteurized.)

No added growth hormones. Our cows are never treated with rBST/rBGH. It’s all natural. And, our cows eat, drink, sleep, and roam around as they please. They just do their “cow” thing and make great milk.

It’s produced on an Iowa Century Farm that’s a family operation. The Jay and Jeanne Hansen farm has been in the family since Jay’s ancestors immigrated from Germany in 1861. The dairy herd originated in 1953. Today, we own 175 cows and nearly 200 heifers, all purebred registered Holsteins. We operate a closed herd and sell our surplus cows.

We own and work on the farm. When all four sons were interested in returning to work on their home farm, we began processing milk as a way to add value to our product so several families could be supported on the farm. The first gallon of non-homogenized milk was produced in February 2004.

So, it’s about the milk because it is the reason we got started. We work to keep our cows content so that the milk, ice cream, and other products that we make for you are as high-quality, delicious, and healthy as possible. Our milk is farm fresh every day from our family to yours.