We totally support the concept of organic agriculture.
Organic milk, by regulation, is supposed to come from cows that have been fed nothing but organic crops and are free from antibiotics and bovine growth hormones. A lot of farmers are going to great lengths to provide organic milk for their lucky customers.
However, some of the brands that are sold by the larger chain stores are not all they profess to be. Many of them come from huge corporate dairies. Organic milk is, in fact, the fastest growing segment of the organic market, increasing 20 -25% annually.
We get a lot of questions from customers who are trying to make their cheese with this milk. If you are one of them, please check the label. Is it one of the major brands? If it is, the odds are good that it is ultra-pasteurized (heated to a very high temperature to render it sterile of most bacteria.)
The odds are also good that it comes from one of the Rocky Mountain or West Coast states. Their cartons look appealing because they have pastoral scenes of cows grazing in the fields, etc.
The truth is that most organic milk comes from the same kind of factories where mass-produced conventional milk is produced and it is just as useless for making cheese.
In her wonderful book, “Milk-The Story of Milk Through the Ages,” Anne Mendelson makes four points about organic milk:
1. The vast majority of organic milk comes from 3 or 4 large producers owned by vast agribusiness conglomerates. Each one has several thousand cows. The milk travels thousands of miles from these places to your supermarket.
(Until now, the regulations referred vaguely to “access to pasture” without spelling out how much or how little. Recently, this regulation was clarified to require that the cows spend a minimum of 120 days outside during the growing season. There is some question about if and how it will be enforced.)