This event is sponsored by Nutiva® Nourishing People & Planet. Nutiva® is the world’s leading brand of organic hemp foods, coconut oil, and chia seeds. Nutiva® is dedicated to a healthy and sustainable world, demonstrating its mission to nourish people and planet by using organic ingredients, and donating 1 percent of sales to sustainable ag groups. Learn more www.nutiva.com.
Pure Éire Dairy, located in Othello, Washington, is one of the few “grass-only” dairies in the United States. This means that their cows exclusively feed on grass that’s free from chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides to provide milk that’s healthy and delicious—and exactly as nature intended it to be.
Co-owner Jill Smith knew that farming was in her future from the very beginning. “My husband grew up on a dairy and I grew up on a farm,” Smith says, “so we both knew our futures were in agriculture in one form or another. We started Pure Éire Dairy because of our desire to produce a fresh, local milk with minimal processing and to give people a place to see where their milk actually came from.”
At Pure Éire Dairy, the cows come first. “Everything we grow on our farm revolves around the cows and what makes them happy and healthy,” Smith says. “We truly believe the cows are the stars of the show and everything we do revolves around them. This starts from the ground up. We have to have healthy soil to produce healthy forage. The better the grass for the cows, the better the milk. The better we care for our cows, the better the milk. From our perspective, everything is intertwined.”
Smith knows that Pure Éire operates much differently from the majority of the dairy industry, but she doesn’t consider what they’re doing to be so completely radical. If anything, she believes that by going back to the traditional methods, they are just producing a better product. “We milk our cows just once a day, we feed grass year round, our cows are never confined, our calves stay with their mama’s to nurse rather than being separated…”
Another “radical” idea? Smith wants her customers to know where their milk comes from. “We feel very strongly about interacting with our customers and letting them come out to the farm to see where their milk comes from. We truly welcome them to walk out and see the cows for themselves, see what they are eating and see how the cows are treated.”
“It is so important to know where your food comes from and how that food is produced,” Smith says. “We’re seeing this more and more every day in the media. Getting to know your farmer allows you to have trust in your food and the confidence to know you are feeding your family wholesome products. I think we’re also rebuilding the feeling of community by reclaiming the relationship between the farmer and the consumer. No marketing program can replace these relationships.”
When it comes to buying milk, Smith says it pays to really read the labels and research the claims made on the label. “If you feel strongly about animal welfare and processing practices, really research where your milk comes from,” Smith says. “Not all milk is made the same. Not all animals are treated the same. We count on milk for our children, so I can’t think of a more important product to research.”
Her favorite Pure Éire product? Heavy cream. “We milk all Jersey cows,” Smith says, “so we have the richest cream around. It is perfect for cream in your coffee, piled on top of a dessert or quickly whipped into butter. We love strawberries with fresh whipped cream for a quick dessert. I also swap milk out in most recipes that call for water. Again, the rich Jersey milk just seems to liven everything up.” Delicious!
“We’re trying to get back to what nature intended,” Smith says. “Cows were never intended to be confined and were designed to eat grass. We feel like we are just trying to care for our cows in the way that nature intended.”
Organic Authority would like to thank Jill Smith and all of the sustainable, organic farmers and chefs whose work is providing healthy food for us all to eat. We honor you as being conscious stewards of our planet. And, we are thrilled to have you participating in our Earth Day event!
images: Pure Éire Dairy