California is not all cities and freeways. In fact, it’s the number one state in in the nation in milk, butter and ice cream production and second in cheese and yogurt. What could be better than to transform all this milky goodness into a Rose Parade float? The California Milk Advisory Board thought it was a great idea, and worked with Fiesta Parade Floats to bring the award-winning “Adventures in Real Food” to the 2016 Tournament of Roses Parade.
Not only did the float take home the Tournament Special Trophy for exceptional merit in multiple classifications including floats that do not retract to 55 feet, it garnered California Grown certification from the California Cut Flower Commission for using fresh materials from California for 85 percent of its flowering. With California flowers and dairy products, CMAB delivered its message of “real food for real people.” Readers can hear an audio interview with Giambroni on “Holstein World” about winning the trophy and view a time lapse video of the float being built.
“It was important to us to promote the message of buying products made with California milk, so it’s important to us to use California products on the float,” Jennifer Giambroni, Director of Communications for CMAB, told Examiner. It was an opportunity “to tell the story to the whole nation” and to tie the heritage of California, where 99 percent of the more than 1,400 dairy farms are family-owned, with the heritage of the iconic Rose Parade. CMAB, associated with California Department of Food and Agriculture, is funded by the state’s dairy families.
We met Giambroni and Essie Bootsma, co-owner of John Bootsma Dairy and secretary of CMAB, at Fiesta Parade Floats during Deco Week. Bootsma was a city girl and a professional chef when she married a dairy farmer, and she contributes recipes to realcaliforniamilk.com. More about Essie and details on the float and riders are in the photo stories below.
“Dairy farming is a passion,” Giambroni said. “It’s 24 hours a day, every day. There’s very little down time. It’s passion about livestock and about making a product that’s nutritious.” Asked how “dairy country” jibes with the usual perception of California, Giambroni responded, “People outside the state don’t realize how diverse the terrain is. Dairy farming is as diverse as the state.”
The theme of the 127th Rose Parade and 102nd Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1, 2016 was “Find Your Adventure.” If you have a question or would like a reply to your comment, please post on Facebook at All Things Rose Parade or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘Adventures in Real Food’ from California
Fun with dairy products: A river of milk pours out of a bottle on the California Milk Advisory Board float “Adventures in Real Food.” Riders rafted on a grilled cheese sandwich, paddle-boarded on a pizza, and kayaked on a baked potato. A satellite float—well, not a float, a banana split—went ahead of the main float. The float illustrates two ways to find California adventure: with a table filled with locally sourced dairy products, or outdoors in the California sunshine.
The riders were young dairy leaders from California Future Farmers of America and Junior Holstein and Junior Jersey Associations, some of whom submitted video entries for a spot on the float. Judging from the photos, they all had a great time during their Rose Parade adventure.
Leaders for the future in California dairy
The young adults chosen to ride the California Milk Advisory Board float (clockwise from top left: Katie Migliazzo, Makenzie Neves, Natalie Massa, Karleen Lopez, Jordon Dunn) grew up on dairy farms and find their adventures in continuing in agriculture after completing college. More about each in the float photos below.) Jennifer Giambroni noted that for these young people, it’s more than a one-day event. It’s a big commitment. They represent the entire industry.”
Though much of the dairy industry is based in the Central Valley—all five of the riders live along SR-99 or I-5—there are farms from the coast to the Colorado River and from Northern to Southern California. The Bootsma farm is in Hemet in Riverside County in the southeast part of the state.
Is it a float or a sundae?
Both! And since life is short, dessert comes first. Natalie Massa, from Willows, grew up on her grandparents’ dairy farm, where her love of agriculture developed. She is studying agribusiness and water policy at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Here, she pilots a banana split that looks good enough to eat. The real driver can just be seen below the dish. The ice cream consists of brown flax seeds and whole pink carnations with a solid red Charlotte rose cherry on top.
Natalie is a third-generation farmer and has been involved in 4-H and Future Farmers of America. She showed market sheep, grew rice, and irrigated her family olive orchard. She plans to get a job in agriculture and help on the family farm. She represents District 4 as a 2015/2016 California Dairy Princess.
Riding the milky way
Left to right, Makenzie Neves steers a baked potato boat, Karleen Lopez and Katie Migliazzo control a paddleboard pizza, and Jordan Dunn floats on a grilled cheese raft. Many of the botanical materials on the float were supplied by dairy farmers and represent foods cattle eat, including cottonseed, citrus pulp, almond hulls and cornstalks, which were otherwise destined for landfills, and wheat, rye, alfalfa and barley. On the deck, large buttercups of yellow strawflower float in gardens of yellow Gold Strike and orange Saturn roses with white gerbera, green carnations, and yellow sunflowers.
Jordan Dunn of Visalia is a fourth-generation California dairy farmer. He started showing dairy cattle as a child and has won the highest title of Supreme Champion. He’s a member of the California Junior Holstein Association and Future Farmers of America. Jordan is studying agriculture communications at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The sandwich was animated to open and close, with gooey cheese stretching between the halves. The hinge can be seen at the rea corner. The “seeds” on the crust are almond hulls, which cattle eat whole.
Oh my! Pizza pie!
Animated to tilt back and forth as it shoots the milky rapids, this pizza is studded with mushrooms, olives, bell peppers and pepperoni, which are actually covered in dehydrated green and red bell pepper flakes, and. Riders Karleen Lopez and Katie Migliazzo pilot the craft with oversize utensils covered in silverleaf. Los Banos native Karleen is a senior in high school. She participates in dairy-based academic competitions as well as raising her own dairy heifer. She hopes to have a career in agriculture journalism so she can inform the general public about the industry and why she loves it.
Katie, a third-generation farmer from Atwater, is a former California Dairy Princess representing District 6. She’s a junior at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a major in dairy science and minor in agriculture business. She would like a career in sales or marketing for the dairy industry. In addition to showing dairy cattle since she was kid with 4-H and FFA, she has been active with her high school dairy and collegiate judging teams. As a third-generation dairy farmer, she loves the industry for both the cattle and the people who care for them.
Coconut milk and sunny cheddar
In a bobbing potato boat of crushed walnut shells and white and yellow strawflower, Makenzie Neves runs the rapids in milk created with white coconut flakes. The fragrance of coconut was redolent in the float barn the day we visited. The wheel of cheddar, covered in yellow and orange roses, doubles as the California sun. Note the slot in the waterfall for the float observer to see out.
Makenzie is a third-generation farmer from Turlock. She has shown dairy cattle since she was 9 for 4-H and FFA and held leadership positions in both and at E. & J. Gallo’s Early Start Leadership Camp. A freshman at Cal State University Sacramento, she is majoring in communications with an emphasis in public relations. She plans to have a career in the industry as an event planner and PR specialist. Makenzie serves as a 2015/2016 California Dairy Princess in District 6.
As the second largest cheese producing state in the US, California cheesemakers produce a variety of savory goodies. Yellow, gold and white strawflowers in varying color blends make up the various colors of cheese. The rind on the brie is cottonseed and on the cheddar, onion seed. For vegetarians, Giambroni said, many of the California cheesemakers use vegetable rennet to curdle the milk.
Marrying into the farm
Essie Bootsma (on the left with Jennifer Giambroni) and her husband John own 2,000 cows at their Hemet dairy. They have owned their own dairy for 47 years. John comes from a dairy family, while Essie was a city girl and professional chef. “I wanted to be a chef, he wanted to be a dairy farmer,” she told Examiner. She took to farming, though. “It’s a great life. I get to be outside. I raised my family outside. My kids grew up in a wheelbarrow of grain.”
The first 12 years of their marriage, Essie ran the farm by herself while John worked in his business. “It’s hard work. You’ve got to like hard work,” she said. “I still prefer the dairy, but I love to cook.” She said if they weren’t running the dairy, she would like to run a bed and breakfast. Essie posts original recipes on the Real California Milk website, including this one for Milk Jam, similar to dulce de leche. Giambroni commented, “We love food. We’re proud to be the food float. The message of the float is about real people, about Essie and her family.”
Real California Milk
At the Fiesta float barn, the seal of the CMAB was drying out on a table. It was covered with garbanzo and black beans and rice glued to a backboard. The seals went on both sides of the California Milk Advisory Board float, and they can be found in the grocery store on products made with real California milk—cheese, yogurt, ice cream and other products.