I remember times from my childhood in Israel sitting in a clementine grove and watching a herd of dairy cows managed by my relatives getting milked across the way.
I often wonder if this background is why it has been so seamless and natural for me to now speak on behalf of U.S. dairy farmers as a National Dairy Council (NDC) ambassador. My passion for nutrition began at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and a sociology of nutrition course completely sealed the deal on my career choice. My mother also became interested in the field of nutrition, and we studied dietetics and graduated from New York University together with our master’s degrees.
Since graduation, I’ve been very fortunate for the many diverse and interesting opportunities that have come my way. I founded Toby Amidor Nutrition, which allows me to provide nutrition and food safety consulting services for individuals, restaurants and food brands, in addition to serving as an adjunct professor at some New York colleges and universities.
I am in the process of publishing my ninth book that focuses on dietary advice for managing diabetes and have published eight other cookbooks, including one titled The Greek Yogurt Kitchen. I have stayed busy as a nutrition expert for Food Network, and I’m a regular contributor to U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, Eat This Not That, Shape and Today’s Dietitian Magazine. Many other media outlets reach out frequently for my insights on various subjects.
Despite my busy schedule, educating on the role of dairy foods in nutrition health and working as an NDC ambassador remains a passion. I first called on the organization in 2010 when I needed support for a book that contained a chapter on dairy. I thought, “Who better to call than the dairy experts?” and I was not let down. NDC was then – and remains today – a highly trusted and credible organization that has earned its strong reputation in the health and wellness world. It is an honor to serve as one of 14 ambassadors who represent an organization that conducts its business grounded in sound science and with such a high level of integrity.
I can say that many other industries and companies follow NDC’s lead.
And like the NDC staff, I am very motivated to represent our nation’s dairy farm families. My childhood farm experience in Israel is far from my only one. I have visited with plenty of dairy farmers over the years because I believe in knowing them and hearing their stories of how they provide safe and nutritious products while doing it in a way that is good for the planet.
There is nothing like getting out on the farm to understand where food comes from, and I carry my experiences with me in everything I do, including in my books. I am called upon by NDC and several state and regional checkoff teams to share how dairy contributes to health and sustainable food systems on media interviews and at leading conferences. I have helped open the eyes of consumers, doctors, nurses, dietitians, students and many others, who have heard me tout the reasons why dairy foods matter as part of a healthy diet.
My two favorite go-to facts are these:
- First, dairy features 13 essential nutrients. This is a huge message, as you can take a cup of just about anything else and you won’t get close to the same overall nutritional value.
- Second, dairy contains three nutrients of concern: calcium, vitamin D and potassium. And if you top off your yogurt with nuts and fruit, you’ve checked off a fourth one – fiber.
I can’t stress how important it is that NDC and our team of ambassadors continue to bring forward the dairy sustainable nutrition story. It can be a confusing time with the never-ending challenges of social and mainstream media sharing misinformation. Much of my NDC role is to serve as “mythbuster,” and my 14-year-old daughter remains on alert should she come across anything in her social media feeds I can help correct or balance.
It pains me that so many of her peers are moving away from milk consumption or adopting alternative eating patterns. Plant-based eating is very trendy, but my message is: Dairy foods still can fit into those diets – and for younger consumers, dairy is crucial to their growing bodies. They and their parents need to know that instead of looking past dairy, consider the vast options of pairing dairy with plant-based foods for enhanced nutrition.
There is no doubt my days are filled, and opportunities will continue to come my way. But despite the busy schedule, serving as an NDC ambassador will always be an important priority for me.
To learn more about your national dairy checkoff, visit U.S. Dairy or send a request to join our Dairy Checkoff Farmer Group on Facebook. To reach us directly, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Dairy Checkoff in Action – The following update is provided by Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff program on behalf of America’s dairy farmers and dairy importers. DMI is the domestic and international planning and management organization responsible for increasing sales of and demand for dairy products and ingredients.