© 2023 All Rights reserved WUSF
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Because it’s strange and beautiful and hot, people from everywhere converge on Florida and they bring their cuisine and their traditions with them. The Zest celebrates the intersection of food and communities in the Sunshine State.

'We got engaged up at the Milking Parlor:' Modern dairy farmers Sutton and Kris Rucks

They discuss how the industry has evolved over the years, and the challenges of being dairy farmers in a world full of milk alternatives.

Listen to the episode

Americans are drinking less milk these days, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Still, if you’ve enjoyed a pint of ice cream or a post-workout glass of chocolate milk lately, then you have a dairy farmer to thank.

If you’re in South Florida, there’s a good chance that farmer is in the Rucks family.

Sutton and Kris Rucks own Milking R dairy farm and ice cream shop in Okeechobee. The couple run the business with their two adult children and a staff of around two-dozen employees.

A lot has changed since Sutton’s grandparents purchased the farmland in 1956. But much remains the same, including the 12-hour workdays and endless troubleshooting to ensure the wellbeing of their 1,500 milking cows.

In this conversation, Sutton and Kris discuss how dairy farming has evolved over the years, the challenges of being dairy farmers in a world full of milk alternatives and reasons for the dwindling number of dairy farmers in Florida. They also address the role of women in the dairy industry and the importance of teaching kids where their food comes from.

Related episodes:

"I host a food podcast" is a great icebreaker at parties.