Rating Organic Dairy Products: Horizon, Organic Valley, 365 Organic

cattle

Yesterday’s post on organic milk stirred a lot of interest with Drill Coach readers–and I received lots of emails about which brands of organic milk are best. Yikes! I never really pay attention to brands and grab what’s on sale or worst, the carton with the nicest packaging. But that’s all about to change–and here’s why.

The Cornucopia Institute, a progressive Wisconsin-based farm policy research group that promotes sustainable and organic agriculture, provides rankings on dairy companies based on their adherence to organic standards.

Cornucopia’s Organic Dairy Scorecard rates 107 organic dairy producers on a scale of 1 to 5. Each company is scored from 0 to 1200 points based on the following criteria:

  • Ownership structure: More points for family- or farmer-owned businesses.
  • Milk supply: Fewer points for supplementing with questionable outside sources.
  • Disclosure: Fewer points for partial disclosure.
  • Farm Certifier: More points for using a reputable certifying organization.
  • Pasture: More points for higher acreage and more time spent pasturing.
  • Cull rate: More points for low slaughter rate.
  • Replacement animals: Fewer points for using milk from non-organic replacement animals.
  • Antibiotics: Fewer points for use of antibiotics.
  • Hormones: Fewer points for use of hormones.
  • Farm oversight: More points for direct vs. outsourced herd supervision.
  • Outside ingredients: Fewer points for supplementing with questionable outside products.

    Top ratings for organic dairy producers with nationwide distribution went to the brands Organic Valley, This Land Is Your Land, 365 Organic (Whole Foods), Wild Oats, and Wegman’s.

    Low ratings went to “private label” organic brands supplying stores such as Costco, Giant, Kroger, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Target, Fresh and Easy (TESCO), and Publix.

    Meanwhile, factory farms Horizon, Aurora, Woodstock, Natural Prairie, and Shamrock scraped the bottom of list.

    After reviewing Cornucopia’s Organic Dairy Scorecard, I definitely plan on switching to Organic Valley or 365 Organic once my Horizon carton hits in the recycling bin.

    View Cornucopia’s Organic Dairy Scorecard

    Why does this matter to you? Because apparently, organic dairy products are not all created equal. Be an informed consumer when shopping for organic milk and other dairy products, including yogurt and cheese, and beware of misleading claims on packaging.