Thursday, December 08, 2005

Organic Foods No Longer Locally Produced

> Do you know anything about the organic producers such as Horizon and Organic Valley, i.e. how they treat their animals?
> Kerry

Not personally. Bear in mind that organic used to be almost a synonym for locally produced products. After the pioneers performed decades of sacrifice to raise consciousness about chemicals in food and the market started to be significant, the large corporations and corporate style family farms moved in.

I have personally taken a tour of a dairy in Colorado that milks 1500 cows thrice daily. I got the insider tour because I have a farm background and enough knowledge of dairying so I could ask good questions, and my youngest daughter has a relationship with the dairyman's stepson. 100% of their feed is purchased, they have no pasture, and the cows spend their entire life in a feedlot style environment consisting mainly of loafing barns, feed aisles, and the automated milk parlor. The cows are treated as well as posible under those circumstances. It is profitable for the dairyman to keep the cows clean, healthy, and well fed. They get plenty of fresh air and sunshine. Still...

For several years, he was a supplier to an organic milk bottling operation, possiblely even Horizon or Organic if those are Western USA brands. As all his inputs were purchased, it was relatively simple for the fulltime feed buyer he has on staff to get them organic feeds. Eventually, he had some dispute and stopped selling to them and went back to straight commercial milk, but the point is the major organic milk bottlers do get at least a part of their milk from large independent producers.

Producing milk and bottling milk are two different operations. Someone may have a large enough dairy to be the sole provider for their own bottling operation, but it seems unlikely if it is fluid milk marketed on a broad scale. The economies of scale come too much into play.


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