How “Organic” is Your Organic Milk?

I recently came across this very helpful resource and wanted to pass it along.  It is a report titled Maintaining the Integrity of Organic Milk, and was published by the Cornucopia Institute, an organization that supports small scale family farms.  The report rates many suppliers of organic dairy products.  You may be surprised to find that many organic dairies are basically just disguised factory farms trying to make profits in the organic dairy industry.

I was happy to see that our raw milk supplier, Organic Pastures Dairy Company in Fresno, CA received the highest possible rating (1200 points out of 1200 and a “five cow” rating).  But I was hoping to find a couple other companies that I could feel comfortable buying dairy products from if necessary, and I did.  Organic Valley dairy products, Stonyfield farms (yogurt), and even Whole Foods private label all scored a “four cow” rating with scores of 1115, 1035, and 1070, respectively. I was disappointed to see that Trader Joe’s organic milk scored only one cow (I think mainly because they refuse to disclose the source of their milk), and that one of the most widely available brands of organic milk, Horizon, scored zero cows. Here is a link to the ratings (they are continually updated).  How does your brand of organic milk stack up?

Not all of the dairies listed participated in the study; for those that didn’t, information came from inside industry sources that had knowledge of their operating practices.  You can look at the report to see what the ratings mean and what questions were included on the survey.

I have always heard good things about Organic Vally dairy products.  It is a national company but the milk they use is sourced from small-scale organic family farms that hold to strict, ethical practices.  My husband did the grocery shopping today and came back from Whole Foods with some limited-edition Organic Valley pastured butter.  I know that Organic Valley usually uses both pasture and feed for their dairy cows, as compared to Organic Pastures where cows are 100% pastured.  But during the summer months, the Organic Valley cows are on nearly 100% pasture.  The butter made from the milk of these pastured cows is full of good-for-you fats and is a brighter yellow color (naturally, without dyes) than butter from grain-fed cows; it also has a great flavor.  If you come across this butter it is definitely worth the price.  I would also assume that most Organic Valley milk you buy during late spring and summer months is mainly from pastured cows also.

I will post more resources for organic, sustainable foods soon!

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