Saturday, September 22, 2007

Moooooooo

Many people who know I'm into nutrition automatically assume everything I buy is organic. Which is not the case. Buying local is way more important than buying organic. Milk is a perfect example.

We buy raw milk that the girls and I drink and then hubby buys pasteurized milk for himself. It's not that he doesn't love raw milk, but it's so extremely expensive, we try to keep a mix. We also buy half-n-half for our coffee. But we don't buy organic - raw or pasteurized.

Sadly, Horizon Organic (owned by Dean Foods) is the largest producer of organic milk. Notice their products are ULTRA-pasteurized? It's because their "organic" cows are being treated about as well as their non-organic cousins. They get a smidge more room and are fed organic grains, but they're still smashed into miles of open warehouses, stepping in their own rivers of poo, breathing in heavy amounts of ammonia (sad attempts to keep the place clean and cover the feces stench). Many of the animals are sick (from being fed grain when they need grass and then living in their own pathogen/parasite infested poop) and they have vets standing by to monitor their status. Factory Farms regularly give antibiotics (mixed into their food) because of their horrible living conditions to keep them alive. If you treat organic animals the same way, but cannot give them antibiotics, that breeds massive infection. So they must "ultra-pasteurize" the milk because it's so full of pathogens. The photos you see online of happy cows at pasture are BEFORE they're sold to Horizon for milk production. Horizon loves to highlight this to downplay what happens to the animals as soon as they step onto one of Horizon's facilities.

In this case, local is more important than organic. Sunshine Dairy is our favorite (second to raw). They bring in milk from individual farmers in the area - the individual farmers insure loving care and quality and most focus on sustainable farming practices. Antibiotics are only used to save the life on an animal. Once better, the animal is repeatedly tested for antibiotic residue before re-introducing it back into the herd for milk production. The milk is not ultra-pasteurized and from what I've read on their website, exceeds state guidelines. THIS is more important to me than any expensive USDA Organic label.

8 comments:

chewymama said...

UGH. I did NOT know that about Horizon. yuck. We are getting into the raw milk thing (local) but Ill have to see if I can find a healthier local option for just organic. thanks for the info!

RedStateGreen said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I'm looking into other sources for milk right away. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

I am back... My Last post was on Applegate HD's and the sod with the mosquitos...

Does anyone know what the word on the street on Organic Valley's Milk? I heard similar items on Horizon's milk...

Fer said...

As far as I know, they ARE quite different since Organic Valley is a co-op of many family farms. Their milk is produced on individual small farms, which is awesome. Horizon, on the other hand, actually buys the cows from farmers and handles the milking themselves (which is where they get themselves into trouble).

Organic Valley probably uses ultra-pasteurization for the longer shelf-life and not necessarily to kill more pathogens. Unfortunately along with longer shelf-life, you get less nutritional value.

Anonymous said...

http://www.horizonorganic.com/ourfarms/Our_Family_Farms.html

"80% of our milk comes from our growing community of organic family farmers across the country... We currently work with more than 580 family farms."

carrie said...

As far as I know, Smith Brothers Farms, a local dairy, is also a good alternative.

Thanks for the info.

And, just curious, how does the raw milk compare? Taste?

Fer said...

As much as I would LIKE to believe that, I can't. I've been reading a wonderful book called "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and the author recently VISITED Horizon's farm in southern Idaho and here's what he had to say.

Here in the western desert, where precious little grass can grow, the company [Horizon] was milking several thousand cows that, rather than graze on pasture (as most consumers presume their organic cows are doing), spend their days milling around a dry lot - a grassless fenced enclosure. It's doubtful a diary could pasture that many cows even if it wanted to - you would need at least an acre of grass per animal and more hours than there are in a day to move that many cows all the way out to their distant acre and then back again to the milking parlor every morning and evening.

So instead, as in the typical industrial dairy, these organic cows stood around eating grain and silage when they weren't being milked three times a day. Their organic feed was shipped in from all over the West, and their waste accumulated in manure ponds.

Retzloff (co-founder) argued that keeping cows in confinement meant that his farmhands, who all carried stethoscopes, could keep a closer eye on their health. Of course, cows need this sort of surveillance only when they're living in such close quarters - and can't be given antibiotics.


AWESOME book! :)

Fer said...

Carrie: To me, raw milk just tastes creamier. We buy it more for the nutritional reasons than the taste. But it does taste yummy. :) My oldest races to stick her finger into the "cream" before I get a chance to shake it up.

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