Thursday, September 17, 2009

ORGANIC MILK v. OUR MILK...the showdown

So, we are sitting at our computers watching the farmer deliver the milk. He works for the Amish farmer and he can drive. He is a Mennonite and always brings 2 of his 12 kids as helpers. Busy right? For y'all who don't know what the difference between Mennonite and Amish, I cannot really help you with the space we have, but the Mennonites drive, have better haircuts and wear jeans. In case you're interested.

I am often asked if our milk is organic. Simple answer - "Nope." The complex answer (sit down, this is gonna take some time) - our milk comes from a single herd owned by one Amish family who has been milking cows for generations. These cows are fed a delicious mix of grass that is not treated with pesticides or chemicals, alfalfa and hay (supplemental grain in the winter, NOT corn). They graze OUTSIDE and get to watch the Amish children walk to school each morning. Not kidding. Said cows are never given antibiotics or hormones to increase milk production.

FACT - there is no such thing as "hormone free milk". All living things have hormones. The difference is that our milk is from cows that are not given added hormones. In Pennsylvania, the Department of Agriculture is extremely strict regarding the labeling of milk or any type of dairy product. If you make a claim about your dairy product, you must have the proof to back up that claim.

Our milk will probably never be labeled "organic" even though it is better than organic. Our farmer prides himself on his craft and laughs a hearty HA HA HA when you ask him if he will fill out these forms in triplicate and pay WHAT?!? to get that "organic" label. Don't be fooled, the Amish are shrewd and smart business people. He scares me sometimes. I cannot even imagine what he would charge for "organic" milk. Capo pays more for a gallon of non-organic Lancaster Amish cow milk wholesale, than you can buy a gallon of organic milk retail. Savvy?

Each Spring our farmer, let's call him Mr. Stolfutz, calls (they use cell phones. I know, makes zero sense with the "no electricity rule" in place) and he says, "Stefnee, better smell 'n taste thu milk before ya make yer ice cream. (shhhh...Mr. Stolfutz thinks I make ice cream) Thu unyun grass is up. Thu gurls luv thu unyun grass." Twice in 7 years I have only slightly smelled the onion grass in the milk. Even then, not so sure it wasn't in my mind. I really want to smell it. The spring milk is a beautiful slightly yellow color. Summer arrives and our milk is bright yellow and smells like grass. No joke. As Fall moves in, the milk starts to lose it's yellow hue and moves to what I call "creamy". So original I am. Deep Winter brings white milk.

I know my farmers, I have visited and pet the cows. These farmers have been doing what they do for 100s of years. Who am I to insist on some "organic" label. I taste the difference. And so can our fans.

So, that is why we don't need no stinkin organic milk! ;P

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