July 17th, 2009 - Laura Klein
I recently blogged about ‘big organic’ dairy companies and how they were affecting the quality of organic dairy.
Since then, another dairy emergency has come to light from the folks at Food Democracy Now…the plight of the poorly paid American dairy farmer…and the consumer by-product: imported milk that is less safe.
Food Democracy’s recent email reported…
Since December 2008, the price that farmers are paid for the milk they produce has dropped over 50 percent – the largest single drop since the Great Depression -to a point far below the cost of production. This unprecedented collapse in prices has occurred in large part due to market manipulations and increased foreign imports by milk industry giants.
The report goes on to cite several disturbing stats:
- Dairy farmers are at the mercy of giants like the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), which controls 40% of US milk production. Last year DFA was fined $12 million for price fixing by the US government and has also been implicated in the recent massive increase in imported milk products.
- Up to 30% of remaining dairy farmers may be lost by the end of this year – 20,000 dairy farmers in total
- Rural America will be negatively impacted, erasing over $52.7 billion of economic development in less than one year.
- Safety is an issue: losing domestic supply will create a serious gap in U.S. food safety as the DFA (Dairy Farmers Association) and others dramatically increase foreign milk protein concentrate imports from countries such as Mexico, India and China — countries which have much lower food safety standards than we do.
Take Action Today!
Send an electronic fax to Secretary Vilsack, head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (it’s all ready for you to sign and send thanks to the socially and environmentally aware cell phone company, Credo) to let him know that you support America’s family dairy farmers.
Read More:Milk Farmers in Crisis…and Less Safe Milk!
July 16th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
July is National Ice Cream Month, a culinary celebration designated by President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
About 9% of all milk produced by U.S. dairy farmers is used to make ice cream. According to the NPD Group, a global market research firm, America’s top five flavors are: vanilla (30%), chocolate (10%), butter pecan (4%), strawberry (3.7%) and chocolate chip mint (3.2%).
The U.S. Department of Agriculture notes that whole-milk ice cream accounts for most frozen dessert purchases, (62.4%), followed by low-fat/nonfat ice cream (25%), frozen yogurt (4.4%), water ice (4.1%), sherbet (3.4%) and other (0.8%).
Most of us purchase ice cream in supermarkets (as opposed to scoop shops), so be sure to buy organic brands. My favorite flavors include:
Pair any of these flavors with a Let’s Do Organic Ice Cream Cone, and you have a no-fuss summertime dessert.
Read More:Celebrate National Ice Cream Month!
July 6th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
People don’t realize. Not only are meat and dairy unhealthy, but rearing, producing and transporting them is a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions.
That’s the World Wildlife Fund is proposing a new initiative. Label red meat and dairy products advising people to consume no more than three portions a week, to help cut their carbon footprint.
Advocates of the plan would also like to see less meat used in ready-made meals.
Now, the WWF is not telling people to dump meat all together, but rather, they’re encouraging people to eat less for the sake of the environment.
But still, the idea brought the crazies out of the woodwork. Officials at Dairy UK said the WWF wants to take one of the most popular foods off stores shelves. Meanwhile, the WWF said nothing of the sort.
And the British Meat Processors Association argued all food production has a carbon footprint and it’s not fair to single any one out. However, it’s widely known that raising livestock emits WAY more greenhouse gas than vegetable farming.
Now, this highlights the issue. What’s more important, profits or the health of our planet? It should be a no-brainer.
Via Food Navigator.
Read More:Using Labels to Curb Meat and Dairy Consumption
June 20th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Most adults should consume about 1,000 mg of calcium per day. Adolescents require 1,300 mg, and postmenopausal women need 1,200 mg.
Unfortunately, up to 70% of us miss these dietary marks, which translates to greater risks for weak bones and osteoporosis, as well as dental problems. Calcium deficiency can also lead to nervous-system irritability and muscle spasms.
Experts agree that breakfast provides one of the best opportunities to add calcium to your diet, but many people skip this meal altogether in their haste to get to work or school.
“Adults who eat breakfast regularly tend to eat fewer calories, less saturated fat and cholesterol, and have better overall nutrition status than breakfast skippers,” says Andrea Garen, a registered dietitian with the Dairy Council of California. “Try to choose foods from at least two or more food groups. Protein-rich foods like milk and yogurt take longer to digest and will provide sustained energy to keep you feeling full and energized until lunchtime.”
Garen offers the following healthful and convenient breakfast ideas:
- Cereal, low-fat milk, and fruit or glass of 100% fruit juice
- English muffin with a melted cheese slice and 100% fruit juice
- Yogurt with homemade granola and berries
- Hardboiled egg and whole-grain toast with a glass of milk
If you’re a vegan, or if you’re lactose-intolerant, many other foods can help you meet your calcium quota: blackstrap molasses, sweet potato, beet greens, tomato puree, collard greens, kale, broccoli, soy milk, calcium-enriched tofu, almond milk, cod, prune juice, stewed prunes, lentils, kidney beans and split peas.
From Our Organic Blog
Going Vegetarian? Make a Plan for Success
Strawberries & Cream
Smart Organic Breakfast Choices
Nutrition & Gender
Organic Flavored Milks: Pros and Cons
Read More:Americans Fail to Meet Calcium Requirements
June 15th, 2009 - Laura Klein
Hooray for organic dairy!
Boo to ‘big organic’ dairy companies who break the good organic rules!
According to the Cornucopia Institute, a respected sustainable farm watchdog group …
Since 2005, a handful of giant factory farms, each milking thousands of cows, have been accused of skirting strict federal organic regulations and creating a surplus of cheap “phony” organic milk flooding the market and driving down profit margins for legitimate industry participants. The Cornucopia Institute estimates that as much as 30-40% of organic milk is now coming from giant industrial operations, milking as many as 7000 cows each.
Spoiling organic dairy even further is a class-action law-suit that was recently rejected by a St. Louis judge.
These consumer law suits claimed fraud in the sale of “organic” milk coming from Aurora Dairy, which the suit claims violated 14 different federal organic regulations. Consumers from 40 states sued alleging fraud in store brands in Wal-Mart, Target, Safeway, Costco and other national chains served by Aurora. Lawyers will appeal the judge’s rejection.
Milking the System for the Best Organic Milk
Good news for you: The Cornucopia Institute’s recently updated online scorecoard can help you make smarter consumer choices when buying your organic dairy products.
Check out the report and 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.”
Sneak peak: Organic dairy kudos go to Organic Valley, a farmer-owned cooperative that garners a four-cow rating in the Cornucopia scorecard.”
Read More: Organic Food Supermarket Trends: Got Milk?
Read More:Keeping an Eye on Organic Dairy
December 18th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
The University of New Hampshire’s organic research dairy farm has announced the birth of its first organic female calf. The Jersey heifer, born Dec. 12, is the firstborn to mother May (both pictured here), bred at Molly Brook Farm in West Danville, Vermont. The calf weighed 42 lbs. and was 24 inches at the withers.
“She’s a beautiful, healthy calf, and May handled the birth like a pro,” says “Uncle” Charles Schwab, a UNH professor of animal and nutritional science. “We’re anticipating a busy month ahead, as 46 cows in the herd give birth and begin producing organic milk.”
Now, here’s the fun part: The calf will be named by the highest bidder on an eBay auction, with proceeds going to the university’s organic dairy project.
A registry for “baby gifts” will be established online. In lieu of diapers and strollers, the cows request contributions toward farm equipment and new facilities for their calves. (UNH has raised half the project total of approximately $1.5 million.)
Both May and her calf are resting comfortably at Burley-Demerritt farm in Lee, site of the organic research dairy farm. A maternity and fresh cow barn has been renovated, and a farm equipment building has been constructed. Planning and fundraising are in progress for a barn, state-of-the-art milking parlor and educational center.
UNH will begin shipping organic milk in early January. It launched its organic dairy in December 2005 as the nation’s first land-grant university to have an organic dairy farm. It provides much-needed education and science-based research for present and future organic dairy farmers, while helping to secure the future of the Northeast’s farming heritage.
The farm is located on 200 certified-organic acres in Lee, about five miles from the center of campus.
Read More:Name an Organic Heifer!
June 15th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Yesterday, I shared a great organic food find: Coonridge Organic Goat Cheese. (Click here to read the blog entry.) I asked owner Nancy Nathanya Coonridge to share her thoughts on what it means to her, as a dairy farmer, to go organic. Her responses follow.
Why is it important to you to offer an organic product?
Being certified organic is a major part of what I am doing at my dairy. I want to make the best possible cheese. My goats, their milk and cheeses are all certified organic. I flavor my cheeses with certified organic herbs and oils because I want all those ingredients to be of the highest quality: GMO-free and without additives. Plus, it is what I can do to protect the Earth’s environment.
Any issues with shipping cheese during the summer months?
Coonridge Organic Goat Cheese ships without refrigeration at any time of year. I start with a living culture and then cover the cheese with herbed oils. The herbs and oil are part of the wonderful flavor of the cheese, but also serve to protect the cheese from the air so it cannot mold. It is continuing to age, so I ask people to refrigerate it on arrival to stop the aging process.
Part of my project at the dairy has been to make the cheeses that people made before there was refrigeration. These include cheeses submerged in oil, as my fromages are, or those made with salt, as in my feta cheeses.
What makes your goat cheese mild?
Healthy goats eating good feed produce excellent milk. If we take special care of the milk, the cheese will have that same excellent flavor. Goat cheese does not have to be strong and “goaty.” In France, they crave the stronger flavors, but I make my cheese for American tastes. Having my goats eating the wild feed they evolved to eat makes for a great and unique flavor.
Photo of the Coonridge goats courtesy of Nancy Nathanya Coonridge
Read More:Why One Dairy Goes Organic
June 14th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
It’s sometimes difficult to find organic goat cheese at your local natural and organic food store. When researching last Wednesday’s blog entry on the nutritional aspects of goat cheese, I came across a great organic food find: Coonridge Organic Goat Cheese in Pie Town, New Mexico.
The dairy has been making organic goat cheese since 1981, and you can order a phenomenal selection of flavored goat cheeses through its online store: Curry, Herbs and Garlic, Roasted Garlic, Basil Pesto, Black Peppercorns and Herbs, Flame-Roasted Green Chile, Habeñero, Herbs de Provence, Dried Tomatoes with Basil and Garlic, Scarborough Fair (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme—plus garlic), Italian Herbs, Southwestern Blend, Chipotle, Dillweed Onion and Extra-Hot Flame-Roasted Green Chile. Cheese may be ordered in several quantities, from a single jar to a full case (12 jars).
The Coonridge website also offers a bunch of mouth-watering organic goat cheese recipes—from Baked Apricots with Goat Cheese & Pistachios and Baked Goat Cheese with Arugula Salad to the ever-so-simple Coonridge Baked Potatoes and Coonridge Corn Casserole.
Nancy Nathanya Coonridge, the dairy’s proprietress, believes goat cheese does not have to be strong and “goaty,” and she prides herself on making a mild cheese that pleases the American palate. Tune in tomorrow for my exclusive interview with her about why it’s important to go organic.
Read More:Organic Food Find: Coonridge Organic Goat Cheese
June 7th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
You’re shopping at your local organic food store and decide to pick up some goat cheese (often labeled “chevre,” its French name) for a Mediterranean salad. So, how does it compare nutritionally to other cheeses?
“The most popular types of goat cheese in the United States are moderate in fat content,” says Karen Collins, MS, a registered dietitian in private practice and nutrition advisor to the American Institute for Cancer Research. “Soft goat cheese—with a texture like cream cheese, but a more pronounced, pleasantly tart flavor—is lower in fat than most cheese, with 6 grams of fat and 80 calories per ounce. It is comparable in fat content to reduced-fat (light) cream cheese. You may find some low-fat versions of goat cheese that go further, with only 45 calories and 3 grams of fat per ounce.”
A little goat cheese goes a long way, Collins notes, because its flavor is stronger than many cheeses.
“Because of its unique flavor, only a small amount is needed to add sparkle to a salad, roasted vegetables or pasta-and-vegetable entrée,” she says. “Semi-soft goat cheese is a bit more concentrated, with a fat content more like other cheese: about 100 calories and 8 or 9 grams of fat per ounce. If you go for the ‘triple cream’ goat cheese, realize it has a whopping 150 calories and 15 grams of fat per ounce.”
Read More:Organic Goat Cheese
March 10th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
You stop by your favorite organic coffeehouse, craving a deliciously hot latte or cappuccino. So, what’s the real difference between ordering a regular vs. a nonfat drink?
If you opt for a small size, made with nonfat milk instead of low-fat milk (the standard at many coffee bars), you’re looking at a difference of 20 to 30 calories, says Karen Collins, a registered dietitian in private practice and nutrition adviser to the American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington, DC. Buy a large latte or cappuccino, and there’s a 40- to 50-calorie difference.
“Fat content changes by about 3 to 5 grams,” she says. “Your choice of portion size actually has far more impact. Without changing the type of milk used, changing from small to large in portion size adds from 70 to 140 calories per serving, and ordering super-large sizes available at some places adds even more.
“The other big factor is whether you turn this coffee beverage into a dessert by adding goodies like mocha, whipped cream or caramel syrup,” Collins continues. “Making it a ‘dessert coffee’ adds 50 to 150 calories to a small, or 130 to 230 calories to a larger, drink. If you splurge on one of these drinks once a week or so, none of these differences is really significant. But if you drink one daily, these details can really add up and affect weight control and overall health.”
Read More:Organic Living: Low-Fat Vs. Nonfat Lattes