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Published on October 29th, 2008 | by Derek Markham

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Horizon, Aurora, and Woodstock Organic Milk get the Smackdown from Cornucopia

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CowWhat’s the integrity of your organic milk?

The Cornucopia Institute’s Organic Dairy Products Scorecard pulls no punches in its ratings of organic milk producers.

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Which brands are at the bottom?

The factory farms of Horizon, Aurora, Woodstock, Natural Prairie, and Shamrock.

The recently updated Organic Dairy Scorecard rates 107 organic dairy producers based on their answers to an in-depth survey asking about:

  • the milk supply source (farmstead or open market)
  • the amount of pasture time for the herd
  • the use of hormones and antibiotics
  • the health and longevity of the cows (cull rate)
  • the source of replacement animals (organic or conventional farms)
  • their organic farm certifier

“Consumers who pay premium prices for organic products do so believing that they are produced with a different kind of environmental ethic, a different kind of animal husbandry ethic, and social justice for family farmers. But not all organic dairy products are alike.” – Mark Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst, Cornucopia Institute

In an exposé of factory farm dairy producers and the brands that threaten to take over the organic dairy industry, Cornucopia’s scorecard helps consumers all over the country to select foods best representing their values.

The top ratings for organic dairy producers with nationwide distribution go to these brands:

  • Organic Valley Co-operative
  • This Land Is Your Land
  • 365 Organic (Whole Foods)
  • Wild Oats
  • Wegman’s

All of the bottom tier producers refused to answer the survey questions, and some of them run the biggest factory-farm feedlot dairies “masquerading as organic.”

Many of the lowest ratings went to “private label” organic brands supplying these stores:

  • Costco
  • Giant
  • Kroger
  • Safeway
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Target
  • Fresh and Easy (TESCO)
  • Publix

Cornucopia Institute recently filed legal complaints seeking USDA enforcement action against Shamrock Farms and Rockview Farms, citing violations of organic livestock management rules.

“When Cornucopia staff visited Shamrock’s operation we found inadequate, overgrazed pasture adjacent to their milking facility, and we were told by Shamrock employees that the confined cows had not been out in weeks. Just like Shamrock, Rockview’s phony-baloney organic farm primarily confines their cattle in a massive feedlot milking both organic and conventional cows.” – Mark Kastel

So what’s the integrity of your organic milk?

Look it up on the Organic Dairy Ratings Scorecard.

Read the full report “Maintaining the Integrity of Organic Milk“, a PDF download from Cornucopia Institute.

What do you support when you buy your favorite brand of organic milk?

Ethical family farm producers with transparency in their operations, or factory farms with massive herds and sketchy practices?

Image: chefranden at Flickr under Creative Commons License


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About the Author

lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, slacklining, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves good food, with fresh roasted chiles at the top of his list of favorites. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, RebelMouse, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!



5 Responses to Horizon, Aurora, and Woodstock Organic Milk get the Smackdown from Cornucopia

  1. design says:

    You know I’ve made the switch to soy and I must say, its not that bad.

    But its always nice to know where to get good source of the Cow variety. This way you can bet that they were treated nicely, have fewer hormones and you get milk that isn’t mostly puss filled :D

  2. Pingback: Horizon, Aurora, and Woodstock Organic Milk get the Smackdown from Cornucopia | Eco Buying

  3. Pingback: Just when you were happy with your milk | Go Green Living

  4. whitney says:

    Thank goodness for the smackdown! We need to be strict about these things. I use Heritage Foods Organic Milk (rated 4 cows!) because they have high standards from start to finish, from what the cows eat, to how the milk is produced. It’s a local California company. We need to support the local farms that are doing things the right way!

  5. Robin says:

    Glad to see Wegmans near the top. That’s where I buy our organic milk.

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