Help! Any info on where I can purchase grass-fed cows' milk and cheeses in the Phoenix valley?
Just bought some organic and grass-fed beef ribeye, NY steak, ground beef, and organic pork chops from Tempe's Whole Foods, and even bought a bottle of Strauss organic whole milk. Had previously asked someone at Chandler's WF cheese counter and at Scottsdale's The Kitchen about grass-fed cheeses, but was told that they couldn't make that distinction among their cheese selections. Would like to ask if any Chowhounders would have good info on where I could purchase grass-fed cheeses and milk (be they from cows, goats, or sheep) here in the valley... Thank you for your replies!
There is a grass-fed cheddar from New Zealand that Trader Joe's usually carries which is both inexpensive and delicious, but I don't think it qualifies as "organic."
It might be best to clarify what you mean by 'grass-fed' dairy products. There is are very, very, very few places in the world where dairy cattle can survive year-round on a grass-only diet. Unlike beef cattle (which even for 'grass-fed' cattle, most are fed some stored fodder during the winter, droughts, etc), it is very difficult to for dairy cattle to maintain milk production without supplemented feed except in the peak grass-growing periods of certain regions (the only major areas of the dairy-producing world that can get by without supplementing dairy cows are New Zealand and Ireland, and thats still only for a few flush months of the year). Even in the more temperate parts of the US, I only know of one dairy producer that manages to never not graze his cows (or so he says), and thats Organic Pastures in California.
What that means is that almost all dairies, around the world, feed their cows a combination of forages and grains, in varying amounts and in varying forms. Forages, which comprise the majority of dairy cattle diets, typically are grass, hay, and silages, and are supplemented with some grain and byproducts of other agricultural production (i.e. cotton seed, spent brewer's grains, etc). No farmer feeds dairy cattle a predominate grain diet - it just doesn't work for the cow.
So, in the end, I believe you won't find a single all 'grass-fed' dairy product in Arizona - I'd wager that the cows labeled as such from New Zealand were fed some grains and silages during a portion of the year. That doesn't make them bad by any stretch, just not 100% grass-fed as you sometimes see with beef cattle. You may have better luck with sheep and goat cheese, but much of the same energy issues exist for those animals also.