What Celeb Fitness Trainer Harley Pasternak Learned Visiting a Dairy Farm | U.S. Dairy

What Celeb Fitness Trainer Harley Pasternak Learned Visiting a Dairy Farm

  • Article
  • March 5, 2020

Harley Pasternak is accustomed to being around famous people. The fitness trainer and cookbook author has some of the biggest A-listers turn to him for nutrition and wellness guidance.

On a recent chilly California day, Pasternak encountered a different type of star—the 2,800 cows at a dairy farm owned by Arlene Vander Eyk and husband Bob.

It was a field trip of sorts for Pasternak, who was visiting a dairy farm—and experiencing the true production of food—for the first time. Pasternak found he had some misperceptions about modern dairy farming that needed to be changed.

“I pulled up expecting to see an old tractor and Bob with a pitchfork,” Pasternak said. “Instead, I see almost 4,000 solar panels and I find out half of the power here comes from the sun. And looking for these big piles of manure, I didn’t find them. Instead, they collect and convert manure into clean energy.

“I realized how scientifically advanced dairy farming is, how environmentally friendly it is,” he added.

The day included the Vander Eyk family leading Pasternak on a tour of the farm. Of course, they walked.

“Harley’s all about getting his steps in!” Arlene Vander Eyk said with a smile.

Along the way, several aspects of the dairy made a positive impression on Pasternak, starting with the cows.

“First, I realized cows are a lot cuter than I thought, especially the little ones,” he said.

With nutrition so core to his work, Pasternak enjoyed learning what cows eat. He talked a little shop with the farm’s nutritionist—“They had a great conversation about gut health!” Arlene Vander Eyk said—and Pasternak learned how farmers provide cows a well-rounded diet.

He saw the cycle that is common on dairy farms: Crops that are fertilized by cow manure are grown at the farm to nourish the cows that can then produce wholesome milk. He also liked seeing that byproducts from the production of almonds, citrus and carrot juices—and even wine—arrived at the farm instead of a landfill to provide a valuable component of a cow’s diet.

Pasternak shared this newly found information to his Twitter followers: “Cows’ digestion systems allow them to eat parts of plants that are too high in fiber for us to eat, like citrus pulp or almond hulls, left over from producing snacks for us! Upcycling and keeping cows healthy is all part of making nutritious dairy.”

Arlene Vander Eyk is thrilled that her family could showcase their dairy to someone who dispenses nutrition and wellness advice for a living. She understands that people are generations removed from the farm, yet they are interested in the story behind their food. They gave Pasternak a full day’s serving.

“It was an amazing experience,” she said. “He really connected the dots with our sustainability story. As we were showing him these parts of the farm, he was doing the math in his head, equating it to cars being removed from the road.

“He’ll now be able to share our story about how dairy is sustainable and nutritious,” she said. “He loves milk and having him see how we care for our cows and our land and resources really resonated with him. He was seeing and believing.”

Pasternak wouldn’t dispute that one bit.

“I want to know where my food comes from,” he said. “I want to know the impact on my body and the environment. It’s an incredible, efficient system here. It’s been really eye-opening.”