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What do you think is the best quality organic milk in Los Angeles?

j
JudiAU Mar 3, 2011 02:27 PM

I am interested in organic whole milk, pasteurized.

I am not interested in conventional dairy in cute bottles or raw milk in any sort of bottle (although I like it) or ultra-pasteurized which is horrid or milk imported from Texas mega-farms or supplemented with DHA or other weirdness. I am not interested in the miracle of hemp milk or squeeze your own almonds. I will consider private label but will have to overcome deeply held suspicions if you cannot verify the likely source.

I prefer packaging that is glass (can be reused), plastic gallons (can be recycled), or cardboard half gallons without the plastic cap on top (can be recycled). Throwing away milk containers annoys me; cardboard cartons with the plastic top cannot be recycled.

We currently buy Clover Organic or Organic Valley (pasteurized version). Both are from California, taste good, seem to adhere to organic law AND philosophy, return my phone calls, and are rated highly by the Cornucopia Institute Report: http://www.cornucopia.org/dairysurvey... . Organic Valley has a slight edge as the producer of delicious grass-fed butter in the summer. That gives me hope. If they are out of stock, I’ll buy the Whole Foods private label. I don’t know who bottles their milk but they have a high enough rating that it can’t be Horizon. We sometimes buy Strauss and I like that it is unhomogenized which is thought to be better for the heart. But I don’t like the Cornucopia comment on their sounds-so-good methane generator so I’ve stopped.

What do you like?

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  1. j
    JudiAU RE: JudiAU Mar 11, 2011 10:32 AM

    bump

    Seriously, doesn't anyone out there drink milk?

    8 Replies
    1. re: JudiAU
      b
      Bjartmarr RE: JudiAU Mar 11, 2011 03:45 PM

      Well, yeah, but you've pretty much covered the spectrum. WF and Organic Valley are both excellent milks, Clover tastes just a touch better, and Organic Pastures tastes even better (but you're not interested in the latter). I'll buy any of them.

      I strongly recommend that you try squeezing your own almonds. Not to make milk or anything; just pull some out of the pantry and squeeze them in your palm every now and then. It's very soothing.

      Now, what I'd like to know is why so many otherwise crunchy stores still stock Horizon. If they must carry it, at least they should put a caveat emptor sign on the shelf or something.

      1. re: Bjartmarr
        j
        JudiAU RE: Bjartmarr Mar 14, 2011 11:52 AM

        Well yes, I've given it some thought. But I was curious if others had opinions, especially on taste. We don't really drink milk, maybe once a year with a cookie or something, but my toddler is starting to drink some so it gives me pause.

        1. re: JudiAU
          t
          terwilliger RE: JudiAU Mar 15, 2011 12:30 PM

          You have done an pretty intense amount of research for someone who drinks milk once a year.

          1. re: terwilliger
            j
            JudiAU RE: terwilliger Mar 15, 2011 02:00 PM

            Chowpup #2
            The first one doesn't drink milk in any quantity.

      2. re: JudiAU
        b
        bad nono RE: JudiAU Mar 11, 2011 04:26 PM

        I don't drink it but I cook with it, and I use either Broguiere or Straus, or Claravale if/when I can find it. Clover sometimes. My top choices being Straus & Claravale.

        1. re: bad nono
          Peripatetic RE: bad nono Mar 12, 2011 03:33 AM

          I've always liked Straus too, though this report is a little worrying:

          http://www.cornucopia.org/dairysurvey...

          This is the comment the OP refers to, but there's more to it than just the methane generator. It sounds as if Straus is losing the plot.

          1. re: Peripatetic
            d
            DairyMaven21 RE: Peripatetic Mar 14, 2011 12:43 PM

            Hi there,

            This is Brie from Straus Family Creamery. I want to respond to the comments regarding the Cornucopia Report. Unfortunately, it contains information that is simply not true. Below is a list of topics it addressing the inaccuracies:

            Herd Size
            The Straus dairy has approximately 300 cows on 660 acres-- a herd density of one cow per two acres and the cows are on pasture an average of 240 days a year. We are not a "large-scale producer", but rather a smaller family farm in West Marin, California. The average herd size of an organic dairy in California is 381 cows. (Source: Characteristics, Costs, and Issues for Organic Dairy Farming, 2009, USDA. pg. iv). The average herd size on a dairy (including organic and conventional) in California is 1,041 cows. (Source: Dairy Statistics 2009, CDFA. Pg. 11).

            Methane Digester
            While some dairies in California with methane digesters operate on a larger scale and practice confinement, the methane digester on the Straus dairy operates on a smaller scale and with cows out on pasture. Since the 1950s, the Straus family has been collecting manure from the milking barn and the corrals where the cows rest after being milked and diverting it to holding ponds. In fact, per California regulations, all dairies must regularly wash their milking barn, and this resulting waste must be captured to avoid run-off into waterways. The barn waste is then combined with wastewater brought over from the creamery (where the products are made) and put in the methane digester. This material provides more than the amount of electricity necessary to power the dairy. Digesters can work on a variety of different scales — from small farms to large farms —and with different materials—from manure to food waste.

            Pasture Rule
            After reviewing the draft version of the proposed pasture rule, our founder, dairyman Albert Straus, expressed concerns to the USDA about portions of the proposed rule during listening sessions held by the USDA. A few aspects of the original draft assumed that “one size fits all” when it comes to organic standards because it did not adequately consider variations in climate, geography and state regulations. For example, it stipulated that cows must be on pasture between “killing frost to killing frost.” This is fine for areas where it freezes, but since it doesn’t typically freeze in the Mediterranean climate of our coastal California region, it meant that we would have had to put the cows out on pasture during the wet winter months. This would have negative impacts on the health of the cows, land, and water. In fact, it was in conflict with the California Regional Water Quality Control Board regulations mandating that dairy farmers keep cows off wet pastures to contain manure runoff and protect water quality. This was particularly relevant to the Straus Dairy since it is adjacent to the Tomales Bay. Both the California Department of Food & Agriculture and the California Regional Water Quality Control Board filed comments urging the USDA to rewrite this portion of the rule as well.

            Thankfully, the final version of the pasture rule was revised to resolve the conflict between it and California water quality regulations. As the very first dairyman in the Western U.S. to transition his dairy to certified-organic, Albert considers organic farming to be his life's work and, since 2005, has advocated for changes to the regulations that would more clearly define access to pasture. Unfortunately, the mischaracterization of Albert’s intentions was spread by many, none of whom contacted Straus for any clarification. An in depth article describing this, written by E. Melanie DuPuis for Grist can be found at: http://www.grist.org/article/2010-02-....

            Milking Cows Three Times per Day
            We used to milk our cows three times a day at the Straus dairy, and from our observations, found that it was humane and not distressing to the cows. In fact, each time they were milked, it gave us the opportunity to visually inspect them for their health. In November of 2009, the staff on the dairy decreased, and with reduced labor we simply didn’t have the resources to milk three times per day. For that reason, we switched to two times a day milking and it has been working well.

            I hope I’ve addressed your comments thoroughly. We really do want to share accurate information about our practices with everybody and for that purpose regularly hold tours of the dairies Through MALT hikes and tours: http://www.malt.org/programs/. More information on the pasture rule is here: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid.... If you have any questions on the above, please give me a call at (707) 776-2887.

            Best,
            Brie

            Sustainability and Communications Manager, Straus Family Creamery

            1. re: DairyMaven21
              j
              JudiAU RE: DairyMaven21 Mar 15, 2011 11:39 AM

              Interesting. Thanks.

      3. cant talk...eating RE: JudiAU Mar 11, 2011 04:14 PM

        Organic Valley tastes by far the best to me but as you note, it's not always available. Horizon (and WF) tastes almost like Knudsen et al. Broguiere's is good too, but those glass bottles never get returned around here. These are just personal favorites. As for quality, who knows, I'd want to visit the producers and see the operation, but I'm just going by what tastes like milk as opposed to cardboard.

        1. d
          DairyMaven21 RE: JudiAU Mar 14, 2011 12:48 PM

          Hi there,

          This is Brie from Straus Family Creamery. Our methane digester is not too good to be true. Unfortunately, many things in the Cornucopia report on us are not true.

          While some dairies in California with methane digesters operate on a larger scale and practice confinement, the methane digester on the Straus dairy operates on a smaller scale and with cows out on pasture. Since the 1950s, the Straus family has been collecting manure from the milking barn and the corrals where the cows rest after being milked and diverting it to holding ponds. In fact, per California regulations, all dairies must regularly wash their milking barn, and this resulting waste must be captured to avoid run-off into waterways. The barn waste is then combined with wastewater brought over from the creamery (where the products are made) and put in the methane digester. This material provides more than the amount of electricity necessary to power the dairy. Digesters can work on a variety of different scales — from small farms to large farms —and with different materials—from manure to food waste.

          More information addressing inaccuracies about the Cornucopia report are above.

          Best,
          Brie

          1. m
            mlgb RE: JudiAU Mar 15, 2011 12:45 PM

            Whether your milk containers can be recycled depends on who collects your waste. Long Beach accepts them (and also accepts plastic bottle tops) while Los Angeles does not. Check the online guides for your jurisdiction.

            1. emily RE: JudiAU Mar 18, 2011 12:12 PM

              Not much to add, except that I usually buy Clover and used to buy TJ's in the past (thought it had the best flavor until I had access to Clover).

              Thanks for posting the Cornucopia link ~ very interesting. I've always wondered about "Judy's Family Farm" for eggs, which I'll be avoiding in the future.

              1. s
                sablouwho RE: JudiAU Mar 23, 2012 08:15 PM

                Judi--you ask a good question. I buy 100% grass fed unpasteurized milk straight from the cow myself, usually in glass bottles. I trust my source and I strongly believe that it is important for milk to be three things: 1) verifiably grass fed and only eating foods that cows are supposed to eat 2) unhomogenized 3) unpasteurized.

                That said, if I HAD to have pasteurized milk, I would go for one that was still "Truly" grass fed and not being fed any junk whatsoever. Certainly no soy (not even organic, non-GMO soy) or corn as this isn't good for cows to eat. Milk can be organic even if the cows are fed organic doughnuts--so the organic label is not something that always means all that much.

                Have you been able to determine if any of these vendors have truly grass fed milk (that is then pasteurized).

                2 Replies
                1. re: sablouwho
                  h
                  hungryveggie RE: sablouwho Apr 11, 2012 12:17 PM

                  Where do you get your grass fed unpasteurized milk from? Thanks!

                  1. re: hungryveggie
                    j
                    JudiAU RE: hungryveggie Apr 11, 2012 07:56 PM

                    hungryveggie-- you should probably know that private buying clubs for unpasturized milk are illegal in California, but not some other states.

                    The sale of raw milk is legal in CA, unlike some other states, but very tightly and expensively regulated.

                2. j
                  JudiAU RE: JudiAU Apr 8, 2012 04:03 PM

                  Just wanted to update this thread with "milk news." Organic Valley recently brought to market a grass fed organic milk as a seasonal item. Available as whole, 2%, and 1% in half-gallons.

                  Really tasty.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: JudiAU
                    Peripatetic RE: JudiAU Apr 8, 2012 04:44 PM

                    Interesting! Have you seen it anywhere?

                    1. re: Peripatetic
                      j
                      JudiAU RE: Peripatetic Apr 9, 2012 08:56 AM

                      Sorry. Should have said it was available at my local Whole Foods on Third and Fairfax.

                  2. b
                    bmsyko RE: JudiAU Apr 8, 2012 04:19 PM

                    Broguiere's Farm Fresh Dairy in Montebello, CA

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: bmsyko
                      Peripatetic RE: bmsyko Apr 8, 2012 04:44 PM

                      Has Broguiere's gone organic???

                      1. re: Peripatetic
                        TonyC RE: Peripatetic Apr 9, 2012 02:05 AM

                        Nope.

                        This is one of the threads I read while looking for Straus "alternatives". And Brie's responses, along with Anna Kharbas's presence on twitter (@MilkMistress) reassured me. FWIW, TJ's organic is Rockview.

                        1. re: TonyC
                          Peripatetic RE: TonyC Apr 9, 2012 02:17 AM

                          I didn't think so, but was giving bmsyko the benefit of the doubt.

                          I read somewhere else that TJ's organic milk was Clover, at least in SF. Did you check it against the Where's My Milk From site? http://whereismymilkfrom.com/

                          1. re: Peripatetic
                            TonyC RE: Peripatetic Apr 9, 2012 09:37 AM

                            Indeed I did.

                            Literally went to TJs, looked for the plant numbers, and ran them against WIMMF.com while standing in the aisle. Also remembered the TJ/Clover connection in SF, but based on TJ's regional sourcing practices, Rockview (Downey) makes sense for SoCal.

                            I believe Rockview organic about "as good" as Horizon...

                            1. re: TonyC
                              Peripatetic RE: TonyC Apr 9, 2012 10:18 AM

                              Yup, no "cows" from Cornucopia.

                              1. re: TonyC
                                j
                                JudiAU RE: TonyC Apr 10, 2012 03:36 PM

                                Thanks for doing the due diligence. I'd heard that TJs was probably Clover in Northern California but it makes since we'd get shafted with Rockview.

                        2. re: bmsyko
                          j
                          JudiAU RE: bmsyko Apr 9, 2012 08:58 AM

                          Brougiere's is a conventional dairy. It is not organic. They do not use growth hormones, however.

                        3. The Oracle RE: JudiAU Apr 12, 2012 05:27 PM

                          Our family favorite has been Organic Valley - UNTIL - DH brought home organic milk from Costco. He couldn't drink enough of it. I never tried it (he's the primary milk drinker). I have no idea what the official brand was - but it came in half gallon packs of three. I plan to do a blind taste test between the two (the Costco and Organic Valley, after our next Costco run). :)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: The Oracle
                            TonyC RE: The Oracle Apr 12, 2012 09:32 PM

                            Interestingly, last I checked, organic milk at Costco in Cali may have been supplied by Organic Valley. Maybe it tasted better cuz it was.. CHEAPER!? :)

                            (EDIT: seemed impossible. Much more likely Costco is Aurora...)

                            I'm going to go look at a few Costco's and check the plant numbers ASAP. Thanks for the tip (but it's probably impossible for me to leave Straus since the cream top is available at TJs.

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