What do you think is the best quality organic milk in Los Angeles?
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?
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.
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:
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).
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.
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.
Sustainability and Communications Manager, Straus Family Creamery
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.
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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.
More information addressing inaccuracies about the Cornucopia report are above.
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.