November 27th, 2012 - Jill Ettinger
A report released by the Union of Concerned Scientists earlier this month finds greater economic opportunities and jobs for rural communities where organic dairy farming methods are employed over conventional farming methods.
Read More:Organic Dairy Farms Improve Local Economies More than Conventional
July 19th, 2012 - Jill Ettinger
The two largest providers of organic milk in the U.S., Organic Valley and Horizon Organics, are in the midst of a lawsuit over what Horizon alleges was a breach of contract and the misappropriation of confidential information and trade secrets, according to Wisconsin-based farm policy research group, The Cornucopia Institute.
Read More:Nation’s Two Largest Organic Dairy Suppliers Face-Off in Court Over Ethics
November 5th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
The number of organic dairies is on the rise, or so says a new report by the USDA entitled “Characteristics, Costs and Issues for Organic Dairy Farming.”
In 2000, there was an annual average of 38,000 certified organic cows in the U.S., but by 2005 that number rose to 86,000.
But having an organic dairy farm isn’t easy, and it doesn’t come cheap.
Taking a regular dairy and turning it into an organic farm is a lot work, involving improved land and crop management, animal care, and lots of certification paperwork.
But the biggest challenge to small organic dairies could be pressure from larger companies. Most organic dairy farms have fewer than 50 cows, while big organic dairies have over 200 cows, and dominate the market.
So organic dairy farming may be pressured into getting larger and larger, like traditional milk production, which could be Pandora’s box waiting to happen.
Image credit: rawmilktruth.com
Read More:U.S. Organic Dairy Farms Face Tough Challenges
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?
October 15th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Ten Maine farmers have joined forces to launch a company named MOOMilkCo., short for Maine’s Own Organic Milk Company, to sell a new line of organic milk.
“MOOMilk,” as it is being called, was launched in response to the farmers being let go by H.P. Hood Inc., a Massachusetts based dairy company, due to slumping sales.
An official with MOOMilk said he is astounded with the level of cooperation and partnership among the companies.
And a member of the board of directors called it a terrific example of Maine’s agricultural community pulling together.
MOOMilk will be hitting retailers in Maine, such as Wal-mart, in early November. The milk only takes 96 hours to get from the cow to the store.
Officials are optimistic that MOOMilkCo. could serve as a business model for other farming endeavors in Maine.
Via Bangor Daily News.
Image credit: teresia
Read More:Maine Launching Organic Milk – Calling it “MOOMilk”
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!
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!
August 15th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Vegetarians have long used coconut milk in place of its dairy cousin. Yesterday’s blog entry described one of my favorite recipe ideas.
In the September issue of Bon Appetit, several top chefs offer tips on using coconut milk in their favorite dishes:
- Michael Cimarusti, co-owner and executive head chef at Providence in Los Angeles, makes a delicious smoothie by combining sweetened coconut milk, a banana, a drop of honey, a splash of fresh lime juice and a few fresh mint leaves.
- Food Network star Emeril Lagasse of Emeril’s New Orleans, NOLA and Delmonico Steakhouse (among other highly touted restaurants) adds unsweetened coconut milk to chicken broth. He then “kicks it up a notch” by adding lemongrass, ginger, lime and garlic to create a Thai-style soup.
- And Chef Bruce Sherman of North Pond in Chicago dazzles breakfast aficionados with his pancakes, replacing half the milk in a standard recipe with unsweetened coconut milk. He then tops it off with shredded coconut.
As mentioned yesterday, if you have trouble locating regular or lite organic coconut milk at your local natural or organic food store, you may purchase it online through Amazon.com.
Click here to subscribe to Bon Appetit.
Read More:Nuts for Coconut Milk
August 14th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Organic coconut milk is an extremely versatile product that can be used in place of regular milk in many dishes.
When mashing sweet potatoes, for example, I add butter and lite coconut milk, mixing until I’ve achieved the desired consistency. I sometimes boost the recipe by adding half a mashed banana for an African-inspired side dish.
Thai Kitchen introduced organic coconut milk two years ago, available in both Organic Regular and Organic Lite varieties.
“Our coconut milks have always been the leaders in flavor and quality,” said Marketing Director John Wright at the time. “As more and more people are seeking out organic products, we wanted to offer those consumers products that fit their needs and met our standards of being the finest coconut milks in the world.”
Thai Kitchen’s coconut milks are all-natural, with no preservatives, chemical additives or processing aids, and they meet USDA Organic Standards. You can find them at your local natural and organic food store, and they’re also available for sale online on Amazon.com. A 14-oz. can sells for $1.84. (Shopping links: Organic Regular and Organic Lite.)
Tune in tomorrow for more coconut milk suggestions from top chefs.
Read More:Organic Coconut Milk