April 13th, 2013 - Jill Ettinger
You were probably expecting a naked woman. But animal rights group, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), has resorted to another shock factor in the name of helping animals: They’re hoping to gross you out. More accurately, gross out your teenager. The group has launched an anti-dairy campaign called “Got Zits?’
Read More:Got Zits? PETA Hits Dairy Industry in the Face with New Campaign
February 25th, 2013 - Jill Ettinger
Facing a decline in milk consumption in our nation’s schools, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) is hoping to add artificial sweeteners to boost its flavor appeal and increase sales.
Read More:Artificial Sweeteners in Kids’ Milk? Dairy Group Hopes So
January 1st, 2013 - Jill Ettinger
Among the many considerations to avoiding the dreaded “fiscal cliff” is a 1949 farm law that could drive up the cost of milk to more than double its current prices.
Read More:Lawmakers Could Cause Dairy Prices to Double
December 17th, 2011 - Erin Shaw
Shamrock Farms is under fire from the USDA for questionable “split operation” livestock management practices that could get their organic certification revoked. The USDA investigation is in response to a formal complaint by the Cornucopia Institute, an organic industry watchdog that first inspected Shamrock in 2008. Cornucopia found “inadequate, overgrazed pasture adjacent to their milking facility,” and learned from Shamrock employees that “the confined cows had not been out in weeks.” Federal organic regulations require that cows be grazed, a practice that some factory-scale dairies shirk according to Cornucopia’s investigations.
Read More:Busted: USDA Finally Enforces Organic Standards at Shamrock Farms
October 30th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
For a quick lunch, I’ll often combine a container of organic yogurt with a half-cup of cottage cheese, a dollop of sour cream and a healthy serving of fresh fruit. This dairylicious combo helps fulfill my daily calcium requirement.
You can also:
- Lighten baked goods by substituting cottage cheese for full-fat cream cheese.
Read More:Organic Cottage Cheese: An Underutilized Recipe Ingredient
October 20th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Much has been written about cows’ role in producing greenhouse gas emissions. (Think burps and farts.)
A 2006 United Nations report stated that livestock were responsible for 18% of these emissions. To be fair, this statistic also included land use and degradation, deforestation, pesticide use and water pollution. Cow flatulence, however, continues to incur blame (not to mention really dorky jokes).
Fear not, bovine lovers: Researchers at the University of Arkansas and Michigan Technological University have found that the dairy industry is responsible for only about 2% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Using 2007 and 2008 data from more than 500 dairy farms and 50 dairy processors, as well as data from more than 210,000 round trips transporting milk from farm to processing plant, Arkansas researchers examined the trail of carbon emissions—from dairy farms to the milk in your coffee. They concluded that total greenhouse gas emissions associated with the fluid milk Americans consume were lower than previously reported.
Read More:Dairy Cows Produce Fewer Greenhouse Gas Emissions Than Previously Reported
June 5th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
June is National Dairy Month, a time to remind ourselves that the official Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend:
- 3 servings of dairy per day (adults and children 9 years and older)
- 2 servings of dairy per day (children ages 2 to 8 years)
A serving is defined as:
- 1 cup milk or yogurt
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup cottage or ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup shredded cheese
- 1.5 ounces hard cheese
- 1 cup pudding, frozen yogurt or ice cream (made from milk)
Our weekend recipe combines the classic flavors of sweet potato, chicken and pineapple, accented with reduced-fat Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses.
“This is a very easy month for me to celebrate,” says registered dietitian Regan Jones, who works with 91-year-old Cabot Creamery Cooperative in Montpelier, VT. “Cheese, yogurt and milk are three of my favorite foods and are great additions to almost any recipe. Even better, all three come in lighter varieties.
“Dairy products provide nine essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, protein, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and potassium,” Jones adds.
All of the ingredients in today’s recipe should be available at a well-stocked natural and organic food store. Enjoy!
Sweet Potato, Pineapple and Cheddar Salad
Makes 6 servings
6 small red or yellow onions
2 medium sweet potatoes (12 ounces)
4 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
12 cups mixed greens (16 ounces)
Nonfat raspberry salad dressing
1 cup cubed fresh pineapple
6 ounces cooked chicken breast, sliced
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces reduced-fat Cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)
Fresh mint leaves for garnish
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Peel onions. Cut them lengthwise into 4 to 6 sections, leaving root intact.
- Cut sweet potatoes into 1” x 3” fingers.
- Spread onions, sweet potatoes and garlic on a baking sheet with sides. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with red pepper, tossing to combine. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 30 minutes, or until tender.
- Uncover and continue roasting until vegetables are well caramelized on the outside, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes longer.
- Toss greens with dressing, to taste. Divide among 6 plates, and top with roasted vegetables, pineapple and chicken.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Grate cheddar into ribbons on top of each salad, and garnish with mint.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Cabot Creamery Cooperative
Read More:Sweet Potato, Pineapple and Cheddar Salad
October 30th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
When we started our blog in November 2005, my very first post examined a new trend in organic food: flavored milk. Dietitian Julie H. Burns, a nutrition consultant for Horizon Organic, noted:
Moms will love these new products because they’re organic, nutritious and convenient for a lunchbox or backpack. Kids will love them because they’re delicious and easy to drink on the go. Families can help reduce their kids’ exposure to added chemicals in food by incorporating organic products into their diets. An easy way to do that is by providing great-tasting organic foods in your child’s lunchbox.
A day later, we published Organic Flavored Milk: Pros and Cons, in which Chef Ann Cooper, the “Renegade Lunch Lady,” told us:
They’re really no better than soda—except for the calcium. Many have a sugar and calorie content that equals or exceeds that of soda, and they become just another way that we’re teaching our children to drink sweets.
Now, the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), creators of the got milk? advertising campaign, are promoting chocolate milk as the “Official Drink of Halloween.” The newest print ad, which debuted in the Oct. 16 issue of People magazine, features actress Angie Harmon (Law & Order, Women’s Murder Club) and her daughters, all sporting milk mustaches.
“At Halloween and throughout the year, my girls love the flavor of chocolate milk, and I love knowing it contains the same essential nutrients as white milk like calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients kids need to build strong bones,” Harmon states in a MilkPEP press release. “As a mom, it’s important to me that my kids learn healthy habits early—and drinking three glasses of low-fat or fat-free milk each day is one of the best habits I can pass on to them.”
Pediatrician Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, is also supporting MilkPEP’s efforts.
“With Halloween snacks all around, low-fat chocolate milk is something moms can feel good about sharing with their kids,” says the author of Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents’ Top 101 Questions about Babies and Toddlers.
“Here’s a spooky fact: Two out of three kids fail to get enough calcium, which is critical to build healthy skeletons,” Dr. Altmann adds. “And studies show that kids who drink chocolate and other flavored milks have higher calcium intakes than those who don’t drink milk. Milk drinkers also tend to drink fewer sugary sodas and fruit drinks and are more likely to be at a healthy weight compared to kids who drink little or no milk.
“Encouraging kids to drink more low-fat milk is a great way to steer them from the nutrient-void temptations at Halloween and beyond,” she concludes. “Chocolate milk and white milk contain nine essential nutrients and are a key component in building strong bones during childhood. Moms can benefit from the calcium and vitamin D in chocolate milk, too.”
How do you feel about flavored milks, including the organic kind? Please share your thoughts.
Photos: Horizon Organic, MilkPEP
Read More:Chocolate Milk: Halloween’s Official Drink?
September 8th, 2009 - Laura Klein
It’s been awhile since I blogged about the companies that are souring organic milk…but that doesn’t mean that they’re not still out there.
One major cheater: Aurora Dairy, the nation’s largest organic milk producer and supplier to Wal-Mart, Target, Safeway, Costco and others, is still not playing by the rules.
This week, the Cornucopia Institute, an organic industry watchdog group, filed a formal legal complaint with the USDA alleging that one of the five industrial-scale dairies operated by Aurora is failing to graze their dairy cattle as required by the federal organic standards.
Aurora’s bad behavior includes…
- Confining their dairy cows in giant barns and pens instead of allowing them to graze on fresh forage as the federal law mandates.
- Allowing cows access to substandard crops that wither in the desert-like heat, instead of more hardy perennials that stand up to continual grazing throughout the growing season.
Not the First Time
In response to a previous legal complaint filed by The Cornucopia Institute, in 2006, career staff at the USDA found that Aurora was in violation of 14 tenets of the organic regulations including confining their cattle to feedlots, instead of grazing, and bringing thousands of illegal conventional cows into their organic operation.
Killing the Competition
The above is not only bad for consumers, who are buying an organic product that doesn’t meet organic standards mandated by law…it hurts small farmers too.
Competitors to Aurora and Dean Foods, another ‘big organic’ dairy company (makers of the popular organic brand Horizon), have been forced to lower prices paid to family-scale farmers, institute cut backs on production or even cancel their contracts with some dairy producers.
“This is an unmitigated disaster for many family farmers who are now facing no market for their organic milk and possibly losing their farms because of the softening economy and the overload of milk coming from these giant factory farms,” said Kathie Arnold of Truxton, NY, an organic dairy farmer milking 130 cows.
The Bright Side
According to Cornucopia, 90% of all name brand organic dairy products on the market are produced with true integrity. “No matter where someone lives in this country there are many wonderful brands of organic milk, cheese, butter, yogurt and ice cream that conform to not only the letter of the law but the spirit of what has made organics such a successful and fast-growing segment of our nations’ food supply.”
Use the Cornucopia Institute’s recently updated online scorecoard can help you make smarter consumer choices when buying your organic dairy products. Spoiler alert: organic dairy props go to Organic Valley, a farmer-owned cooperative that garners a four-cow rating in the Cornucopia scorecard.
Other blogs on organic milk:
Organic Food Supermarket Trends: Got Milk?
Discover The Delicious Health Benefits of Organic Food
Illegal Organic Milk? Shameful
Milk Farmers in Crisis…and less Safe Milk
Keeping an Eye on Organic Dairy
Read More:Organic Cows Deserve Grazing – not Hazing!
July 27th, 2009 - Laura Klein
It’s just so wrong to see the words ‘illegal’ and ‘organic’ side by side. But according to recent reports on the state of organic dairy, a topic I’ve blogged about before, that’s exactly what’s happening.
At an emergency organic farmer rally held recently in West Salem, WI, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack heard emotional pleas from small and family-owned organic farmers fighting for survival: during the Bush administration, the USDA was accused of “looking the other way” as large corporate agribusinesses invested in organics while allegedly violating federal standards.
Case in point
Aurora, operator of five factory farms in Colorado and Texas and the organic milk store-brand supplier for Wal-Mart, Target, Safeway, Costco and other national chains, was found to have “willfully” violated numerous organic regulations by USDA investigators in 2007.
In the dairy sector there are now estimated to be 20 large industrial dairies, each milking 1500-7000 cows, producing as much as 40% of the nation’s organic milk supply. A glut of factory farm milk has flooded the organic dairy sector squeezing the incomes of family farmers as dairy processors cut payments and demand production cutbacks
The Secretary Speaks
Secretary Vilsack’s comments at the rally indicate that the farmers may have been successful in their mission:
“We are focusing on rules that will level the playing field so that small and medium size producers have a fair shot…We are, as you are, asking questions about how producers can make so little and how others who are in the chain can make so much,” said Vilsack.
Use The Cornucopia Institute’s recently updated online scorecoard to make smarter consumer choices when buying your organic dairy products.
Take advantage of 110 ratings of all organic brands (listed alphabetically) based on their ethical and legal approach to milk production. While ‘big organic’ may be shortcutting the rules, the report shows that 90% of organic milk, cheese, butter and yogurt marketers are subscribing to the “spirit and letter of the organic regulations.”
It’s not just organic dairy farmers that are in danger: traditional dairy farmers are hurting too. Find out more – and how you can help – here.
Read more and see a video clip of some of Tom Vilsack’s comments to learn more.
Read More:Illegal Organic Milk? Shameful!