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All Organic milk is the same, right?
If a product like milk is labeled organic does it matter where it came from? A small family farm from your state or a giant factory farm? Does it matter how the cows are treated? The employees? For many PosiPair members and the public, the answer is an emphatic "Yes!"
Here in Wisconsin we're lucky to be the home of a large cooperative helping organic family farmers thrive. Maybe you've heard of them, go to almost any grocery store in the US and you're going to see Organic Valley dairy products - eggs, cheese, milk, etc.
The opposite model for organic milk production is Horizon Organic dairy, a subsidiary of Texas-based food giant Dean Foods Inc. You've also seen their products in the grocery store - a red background with a happy cartoon cow jumping in front of the Earth.
Many family farmers started switching to Organic Valley after Horizon shifted their purchasing to giant factory farms, including suppliers with 10,000(!) cows. Just 48 farms supply 35 percent of the milk supply for the Horizon label. The average size of an Organic Valley farm is 60 to 90 cows. Super-sized dairy farms are called CAFOs [K-FOs], which is short for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. These are horrible places for animals and produce enormous amounts of pollution.
The Environmental Protection Agency says that CAFOs: confine animals for more than 45 days during a growing season in an area that does not produce vegetation (i.e. a small fenced-in mudpit).
A Horizon employee recently left the company to work for Organic Valley, and Horizon isn't happy about it. They've filed a lawsuit against Organic Valley in federal court. The lawsuit could be an attempt by Horizon's parent company Dean Foods to pressure smaller competitors in the battle over market share.
We support Organic Valley's cooperative values and hope they and Wisconsin's small farmers prevail.
~ by Sarah Manski for PosiPlanet, the blog of the founders of PosiPair.com
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