In order to understand the nature of both historic and modern-day food production on campus, we decided make some visits to centers of food production and processing around campus to see what we could learn.
Campus Archaeologist Lisa Bright and CAP Fellow Susan Kooiman paid a visit to Anthony Hall to see Dr. John Partridge, an emeritus faculty member of both the Dept. of Food Science and Nutrition and the Dept. of Animal Science. Dr. Partridge could be considered an “oral historian” of dairying on campus, and he shared his stash of old dairying equipment, packaging, and photos from the mid-century era of the Dairy Plant. It provided insight into the type of things we might encounter during our archaeological investigations on campus, such as historic milk bottles, bottle crates, and milk cans. The image to the right shows milk cans outside of the Dairy Building awaiting delivery to campus dorms (Image courtesy of the Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections).
John Engstrom, the Dairy Complex Manager, kindly gave Dr. Goldstein and several CAP Fellows a tour of the MSU Dairy Plant. The facilities are spacious, shiny, and clean, and we saw the production of the curd for cheeses take place. Some of those curds were bagged and sold the following day in that form, while the others were packaged into box forms to be pressed and aged and sold as various kinds of block cheese later on.
Images from CAP tour of the MSU Dairy Plant. Images courtesy of Autumn Painter
The Dairy Plant currently focuses on producing shelf-stable cheese and ice cream. They produce 40,000 gallons in 40 different flavors of ice cream each year and 40,000 pounds of cheese in 11 different types or flavors. The milk is supplied by the 180 cows milked on campus in the Dairy Teaching and Resource center, as well as those milked in the Pasture Dairy center in the Kellogg Biological Station (although cream is acquired from another source). The MSU Dairy Store is both locally and nationally renowned, and you can even order their products online.
Although our site visits this year have been limited to dairy-related production on campus, we hope to visit other centers of food production and processing on campus, such as the MSU Meat Lab. So visit this page again for future updates!