Monday, June 30, 2008

local vs. organic...

I am in the midst of a milk dilemma.

I generally use approximately 1/2 gallon of milk a week (sometimes more/less depending on what I'm cooking).  I prefer organic milk, and I also prefer local milk, and I also prefer low-temperature pasteurized milk (which is what you need to make cheese).

I have two options right now in my grocery store.
1.  Farmer's Creamery:  organic, low-temp pasteurized, non-homogenized, really really good milk from Amish farms in Iowa (about 150-250 miles away, depending on the batch).  Pros:  really really good--like holy cows good.  perfect for cheese making. Organic.  Cons:  only lasts 5 days, if I'm lucky, before beginning to sour.  Not really all that local though it does fit the locavore criteria.  Costs $4.99/half gallon!  Plastic bottle.

2.  Oberweis:  no hormones, low-temp pasteurized, homogenized, really really good milk from small-medium family farms in the immediate area.  Pros:  really really good.  Can be used to make cheese (though I haven't tried it yet, the pasteurization temp is okay).  Glass bottles that you return to be sterilized and reused.  Very local.  Local family owned business.  hormone free.  strict standards for milk quality.  from cow to my fridge averages 1-2 days.  has home delivery if I want that.    Cons:  not certified organic because the farmers do not use organic feed/pasture (though none are hormone or antibiotic filled cows).  They also home-deliver ice cream, which I think could be really bad.  home delivery price is $3.19/half gallon (not sure if there's a bottle deposit this way or if it's included in delivery/storage cooler fee or if they just assume they'll be picking up the bottle next week anyway), store price around $3.20-69 plus bottle deposit of $0.85.

Now, here's the thing.  I'm pretty committed to the organic enterprise.  I want to support that because I think it's the most sustainable agriculture we can use.  I am also pretty committed to the eat-local thing, again because I think it's the most sustainable thing to do.  But if I have to choose, which one wins?  For veggies and eggs I'm good because I belong to a CSA which is both local and organic. For fruit I have a harder time as there's no organic fruit grown around do I go with non-organic or local?  And for see the dilemma.  What's a girl to do?


  1. Aw, I used to love to go outside in the morning and bring in the milk....from Oberweis. It does my heart good to know that they're still in business and still doing home delivery.

  2. I have no idea what to tell you, but I am stuck on the "half a gallon a week" thing. By myself, I drink two whole gallons a week. Which is getting to be an expensive habit. I'm a long way away from where you are, but fresh from the dairy milk is available for $6/gallon here. Not sure if it is organic, or just local. It's unpasteurized, I know that much. Good luck.

  3. For reasons having nothing to do with milk quality or price, I must urge you to consider Farmer's Creamery as your permanent supplier. Do you really want any of your money supporting the political aspirations of Jim Oberweis?

  4. I know, Jim is utterly sketchy as a politician. and his district is just south of here, actually. the questions are: 1) can he actually win? 2) how much of the money from the milk business goes into his political campaign? 3) do those answers outweigh the benefits of buying local, sustainably-packaged, very good milk for almost a dollar less per half gallon than the stuff that is equally good but trucked 250 miles here? 4) is the ultimate cost of supporting/relying on an oil-based economy more or less than indirectly supporting a craze politician-wanna-be? Dilemmas, anyone?