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Did you know there is a dairy located smack dab in the middle of Downtown Las Vegas? That’s right, and it’s been there since the early 1900s. The word “Las Vegas” actually means, “The Meadows”. Not necessarily what you think of when you consider the city itself is located in the middle of a basin, surrounded by mountains and reaches temps of over 100 degrees in the summer. But back in the serious day, a man named Harry Anderson, saw an opportunity to provide fresh milk to the families living in the growing little railroad town, and took it. Over 100 years later, his dairy products are the most well known and purchased in Southern Nevada.
The dairy, which is actually a processing plant, (the real dairy is now located in Southern Utah just a few hundred miles outside of Las Vegas) offers tours to the public and field trips to the Clark County School District. I had the opportunity to attend with my daughter’s class this year. (See my video on the Travelling Moms site). Growing up in Vegas, there are several field trips we took…a tour of Siegfried and Roy’s home, the Omni-Max theater at Caeser’s Palace, the Las Vegas Zoo, and the Anderson Diary. That was growing up in Vegas. I also attended Siegfried and Roy’s Magic show back when they headlined at the Frontier Hotel (now the Trump Towers). All the private schools at the time were invited. When people ask what it was like growing up here, that is one of my favorite things to tell them. Lots of things have changed since then, now the kids actually get to experience some real educational stuff, like the Springs Preserve, but the Anderson Dairy remains a constant in the field tripping arena.
I don’t remember much from my first time, I was my daughter’s age then. Now it’s all fancied up with talking, mechanical animal characters like Calcie-Yum the Cow, Mr. Bright Eyes the Owl, Chicky the Chicken and Rudy the Rooster. There is also a brief tour where they take you down two long hallways to show you the processing plant and how it works. One side demonstrates how they carton the ice cream, and the other shows the freezer storage area. I had thought I remembered walking into the actual freezer when I went as a kid (maybe I’m confusing that with a Mc Donald’s field trip?), but of course, the most memorable part for both her class and mine, was the ice cream handed out in the end. Now that is one thing that has not changed.
After they passed out the ice cream to the over excited crowd, I was able to catch up with our tour guide. I had a few questions, as a discerning parent and a long time resident of Las Vegas…where does this milk come from. Ever since I can remember, Anderson Dairy has always been in the refrigerator of both my mother and grandmother. Pretty much, if you grew up here, you were raised on Anderson Dairy. But as society has begun to turn to a healthier lifestyle and asking more questions about where their food is coming from, I can’t help but wonder the same. There has been rumors about the quality of their milk, and how the cows were being raised, and I couldn’t leave there without learning the truth, at least, learning their side of the story. Were their cows really fed on pastures laden with nuclear waste? How were they remaining a presence in the market with all this talk of natural and organic products?
The young woman I spoke with, also happened to be the great-great grand-daughter of Kenny Searles. Her great-great grandfather purchased the dairy from Harry Anderson in the 1920’s, and it has been in the Searle’s family ever since. She responded without hesitation that the dairy cows are treated humanely, and they are fed all natural, organic grass. They are not injected with hormones or antibiotics, but the government makes it very difficult and expensive to get that Organic Certified seal, so they are currently in the process of changing all of their packaging to relay that information. She also felt confident that because the cows are raised on a private dairy farm, they had more control over how they were handled, treated and fed.
I felt somewhat satisfied that Anderson Dairy is working to keep up with the organic food trend. I, personally, only buy organic dairy products, and will purchase non-rBGH if no other option. Being a staunch supporter of my community and buying local, I would love to buy from Anderson Dairy again, so I hope they do follow through on their word.
I asked my daughter what her favorite part of the tour was, of course, she responded with, “The Ice Cream!!”. When my son went a few years ago, he actually enjoyed the talking animals and learning about the history of the diary, that’s no surprise. That was my favorite part, too. If you are visiting Las Vegas, or looking for something to do with your little entourage over the summer, the Anderson Dairy is worth looking into. They have some really neat pictures of Las Vegas being developed, a great short-film about the history of Las Vegas and the dairy, and some of the vintage neon signs. If you are a history buff, this is a great spot to learn a little something rather than being schooled at the 21 table.
Anderson Dairy is located at
801 Searles Ave
Las Vegas, NV 89101
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