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Organic Valley Grassmilk Farm Tour + Giveaway

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending a day at an Organic Valley Grassmilk farm in New York.

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Organic Valley is America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers. Formed in 1988, it now represents more than 1,800 farmers in 36 states. I love Organic Valley and buy their whole milk every week. Not only is their milk delicious and organic, but they also use a regional model where milk is produced, bottled and distributed right in the region where it is farmed to support local economies. Awesome!

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A couple years ago, I started seeing a new milk product from Organic Valley in stores – “Grassmilk.” Have you guys seen this yet? I started buying the whole milk Grassmilk out of curiosity, alternating it with their regular organic milk basically just depending what was available in store.

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So – when I was invited on a press trip farm tour with the brand to learn more about the production behind their Grassmilk dairy products (Grassmilk cheese and yogurt were also introduced recently), I was intrigued. Sign me up!

organic valley grassmilk farm

I traveled to Stone Mill Dairy, the farm home of David and Michelle Stratton and one of Organic Valley’s 81 Grassmilk dairies, to learn more straight from the source.

stone mill dairy new york

David and Michelle were lovely hosts – thank you so much to them for taking time out of their busy schedules to let us watch them in action on their beautiful farm.

stone mill dairy

Fun fact: Michelle is a nurse and was living and working in NYC until a few years ago, when she moved home to Syracuse and met David on Match.com. They fell in love, got married, and now work on the farm together, although she still sneaks away 2 days a week to practice as a nurse in Syracuse. Talk about a change in lifestyle – so romantic, right? :)

david and michelle stratton

So – what’s the difference between organic dairy and 100% grassfed organic dairy? That was my main question. Let’s start with organic.

Being certified organic includes the following:

  • Utilization of natural means of pest control/prevention. Absolutely no use of prohibited materials (antibiotics, growth hormones, etc.)
  • Maintaining low levels of environmental pollution.
  • Not using any GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)
  • Adhering to a certain standard of animal control, focusing on humane treatment.
  • Cows must be at pasture for a minimum of 120 days per year, and get at least 30% of their dry matter intake from grass.
  • Organically managed cows must also be given daily access to the outdoors during the non-grazing season – e.g. shade, shelter, fresh air, direct sunlight, exercise areas.
  • Cows have to be fed and treated to meet organic standards for a full 12 months before their milk can be sold as organic.

See also: 5 reasons to eat organic.

stone mill dairy

An organic cow’s diet consists of grass and a little bit of grain (corn, barley, etc. — about 5 lbs., if that). In the winter, they eat stored forage: either haylage (chopped, fermented hay), or round bales of hay (longer-stemmed – wrapped to ferment), plus grain (anywhere from 5-15 lbs. per day per cow). A conventional diet, on the other hand, would consist of corn silage (chopped, fermented corn) and grain (corn and soy). Some haylage may also be mixed in, but the cows are not usually out on grass.

100% grass fed dairy farm

100% grassfed organic dairy farms follow the same organic standards, but they take it to another level by only feeding the cows grass. No grain, soy, or corn are allowed, even if they are organic – only fresh grasses and dried forages, like hay (for winter, when pasture grazing isn’t an option). David told us that cows are fine with cold weather, but they don’t like wind or being wet. He built a winter shelter for them recently, strategically placed so it will block the wind and keep them dry when necessary.

winter shelter for cows

The key with 100% grassfed cows is that the grass has to be excellent quality to ensure the cows stay healthy! David employs an approach called rotational grazing, which maximizes nutrients both in the land and for the cows themselves. This just means that cows are frequently rotated to new areas of the pasture, letting them graze on fresh grass and allowing the other areas time to re-grow. David rotates his cows to new grass daily (usually twice daily), and they get back to the same spot about a month later. He even has a more wooded/shaded area of his pasture (you can see it in the photo below in the back) that he rotates the cows to when it starts getting too hot out for them – smart!

stone mill dairy farm

Another thing that is very important with 100% grassfed cows is ensuring that the pastures feature a variety of different kinds of grass, forbs (dandelions, etc.), and legumes (e.g. alfalfa), because the varied, diverse nutrient profiles are important for the cows. David’s pastures had over 100 varieties of herbaceous plants – amazing!

organic valley grassmilk farm

We learned more about grass nutrition and the importance of diversity from Dr. Guy Jodarski, one of Organic Valley’s Staff Veterinarians, who joined us on the trip. Apparently the cows are good at choosing how much of which kinds of grass they need to eat any given day, which I thought was cool. Very intuitive eaters! :) Young grass is higher in protein while mature grass has less protein and more carbs, so they vary their intake based on need – fascinating! David used to graze the cows on shorter grass that was one height, but now has tall grass so the cows can do their own self-regulation as nature intended. When storing grass for winter use, David marks each bale to note its nutrition (e.g. high or low protein) and watches the body condition of the cows to see which they need at any given time.

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So – why feed cows grass vs. grain? The health benefits of grassfed milk compared to grain fed have been found in numerous scientific studies and meta-analyses, including a 2013 Washington State University study published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. 100% grassfed dairy is full of naturally-occurring calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

stone mill dairy cows

Eating too much grain is not good for the cows as it makes their stomach pH too acidic, leading to potential health problems for the cow. In terms of the milk’s nutrition, grain also changes the omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio in the milk; there is a linear relationship between more grain leading to more omega-6 in the milk. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 polyunsaturated fats in the American diet has changed in general; between 1935 and 1939, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids was reported to be 8.4:1; today, estimates of the ratio range from an average of 10:1 to 20:1, with a ratio as high as 25:1 in some.

Omega-6 does have a function, but it is also pro-inflammatory, and inflammation in the body can be a factor in increased heart disease risk; in fact, elevated omega-6 intakes have been associated with an increase in all inflammatory diseases. On the flipside, studies are showing that a lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 (so, more omega-3 intake – and/or less omega-6) can reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Higher levels of long chain omega-3s in the blood have been shown to potentially protect against degenerative diseases, and research also shows strong evidence that the omega-3s EPA and DHA can help lower triglycerides and blood pressure.

And guess what? The more grass cows are fed, the better that omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is. I was shocked when we were shown this slide showing the average differences in ratios from conventional, regular organic, and 100% grassfed organic milk.

P6210051Sources: previously referenced WSU study + an internal Organic Valley study

For now, 100% grassfed milk standards are internal, and there isn’t a common industry standard regarding rules and regulations for 100% grassfed dairy products (beyond the obvious – that the cows must be 100% grassfed when milked).

That said, in 2015 Organic Valley hired Mark Lipson, a former USDA organic policy advisor and current research associate at the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, University of California, Santa Cruz, as a consultant to help facilitate a team of stakeholders to recommend a common industry standard. The stakeholders team is led by the American Grassfed Association (AGA) and includes Organic Valley, organic certifiers, producers, manufacturers, retailers and farmers. The result of this collaborative process should protect and benefit farmer and consumer alike and maintain the integrity of grass-fed dairy product claims. Items up for debate are things like how long the cows must be grain-free before their milk can be sold as 100% grassmilk (Organic Valley currently requires 60 days), whether calves (baby cows) can have grain at all before they become milkers, and whether certain supplements (like flax, which is not currently allowed, or molasses and kelp, which are allowed) are okay.

stone mill dairy farm

I asked David why he went to 100% grassfed – especially considering he did so before Organic Valley was paying extra premiums for 100% grassfed milk (because they hadn’t come out with their Grassmilk products yet). His reply was simple: “It just seemed like the right thing to do.” Can’t argue with that! And given how happy and healthy his cows were, he is certainly doing something right.

One of my favorite things about the trip was just seeing how much David and Michelle care for the cows. As David said, “I’m doing this because I love the cows – it doesn’t feel like work to me.” It shows, and the cows know it – all he has to do is whistle and the cows come running in from the pasture, ready to stroll on their own to the barn for milking twice a day.

organic cows new york

Once the cows are done being milked, they can leave the barn at their own leisure. Some of them even stayed and hung out along with a rowdy bunch of calves – too cute!

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As you can see, I had a fun and informative day on the farm. Another big thank you to farm owners David and Michelle Stratton for having us and to Organic Valley for covering my expenses for the trip and for sponsoring this post!

I will leave you with a fun fact: just over 40% of Organic Valley’s farmers are Amish – how cool! We had the pleasure of having dinner on the first night of our trip with David and Michelle and two other farm couples, including an Amish couple that also owned a 100% grassfed dairy farm. It was fascinating to learn more about their culture!

new york amish farm

Want to try Organic Valley Grassmilk for yourself? Enter below – 10 lucky readers will win a one month supply of Grassmilk (in free product coupon form)!

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Comments

  1. 1

    I love Organic Valley and I would love a supply of their milk! What a fun trip!

  2. 2

    I had no idea they were allowed grain! It’s so cool to see that the people working with the cows actually care about the animals. I buy their regular whole milk, but I would love to try the grassmilk because I’m curious. I haven’t seen it yet in my town, so I will be watching for it!

  3. 4

    Such a cool trip- I love cows! And I was so interested to learn about the Omega 6/Omega 3 issues. I’ll have to research more into that!

  4. 5

    I currently buy the Organic Valley “New York Fresh” milk, but now I want to try the Grassmilk! I had no idea about the Omega-3s in grassfed milk, so fascinating.

  5. 6

    Love this post even though I don’t drink milk.

    My question is how do I look at the foods I’m eating and determine a good Omega-3/6 ratio?

  6. 11

    I’m all for organic milk, especially grass fed. I only buy grass fed butter now and only organic milk. However, I have yet to try organic grass fed milk. One thing I learned is cows have to be fed and treated to meet organic standards for a full 12 months before their milk can be sold as organic. Didn’t know that, but it makes sense!

  7. 12

    I did not realize that there was a difference between organic milk and organic GRASS-FED milk. So good to learn about what we’re putting into our bodies!

  8. 13

    Very informative, thanks! We buy Organic Valley often, but I wasn’t aware of the grass fed milk. I’ll be on the lookout!

  9. 14

    I loved learning that the nutritional content of grass is different depending on maturation!

  10. 15
    meredith says:

    so neat! I love Organic Valley but haven’t seen this line yet. Awesome! Grassfed tastes so much better :)

  11. 16
    Jessica C says:

    I didn’t know any of the differences between all grass-fed vs. not, so that was fascinating!

  12. 17
    Amanda F says:

    I was surprised out how being grass fed can affect the omega6/omega3 ratio… I am also always intrigued about industry standards. I like knowing where my food comes from!

  13. 18

    Would love to win

  14. 19

    Great information in this piece. Thank you for explaining about the ratios too, that is really interesting to me.

    Just to add another bit of info for you–farms (but specifically Amish farms in Lancaster area of PA have been called out) can be a significant source of water pollution, mainly in the form of nutrients and bacteria, due to the animal waste running directly into streams. This is partly because I think they may not need to follow federal environmental guidelines. I’m not sure if OV is aware of this issue, or if it’s not an issue in the Syracuse area, but in terms of water quality there are some serious concerns coming from the difficulty of enforcing environmental best practices/regs on Amish areas. If you google Amish, water pollution, you will see some NYT and many other articles reporting on this.

  15. 21

    This was so interesting. Definitely something to keep in mind when I get asked (frequently) about milk with clients!

  16. 22

    The Rotational Grazing sounds so interesting, I had no idea there were different methods to grassfed feeding!

  17. 23

    Hi, This is a fascinating post. I am wondering if you have noticed a taste difference between conventional, organic and grass-fed milk. Thanks!

    • 24

      Hmmm good question! I don’t really drink conventional milk much anymore but between the regular organic and the grassmilk the grassmilk is creamier – it’s non-homogenized so there are bits of cream floating around and it has cream on top (it naturally settles/separates that way since it’s not homogenized). Delicious! We love it in coffee!

  18. 25
    Laura W says:

    It’s really good to hear how the cows get to roam free. Would love to try the grassfed milk, I didn’t realize there was a difference!

  19. 26

    Very informative, Thank you for sharing this information! The local stores (Mankato, MN) don’t carry grass-fed milk; but I have seen a nearby co-op carry it. Will buy it in my next trip. In the chart referencing the ratio of O6 to O3: Wouldn’t OV be better since it’s ratio is closer to the dietary optimum (2:1) compared to the Grass-Fed which has a 1:1 ratio?

    • 27

      Well the idea is that we are generally eating more omega 6 than we need and not enough omega 3 – so having more omega 3 vs. omega 6 in 100% grassfed dairy will help balance out the rest of the day’s omega 6 intake. That ratio is just for the milk – so it’s not going to be your overall ratio when you factor in the other things you eat. Does that make sense?

  20. 29

    Did you happen to find out if they milk their cows when they are pregnant and if they get pregnant naturally or artificially? I’ve been in search of good quality milk after reading articles like this one:

    http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/04/milk-hormones-cancer-pregnant-cows-estrogen

    “The reason that milk produced in America and Japan has more sex hormones than Mongolian milk is simple. The free-range cows kept by Mongolian nomads get pregnant naturally and are milked for five or six months after they give birth. In Japan and the United States, the typical dairy cow is milked for 10 months a year, which is only possible because she is impregnated by artificial insemination while still secreting milk from her previous pregnancy. Milk from pregnant cows contains far higher hormone levels than milk from nonpregnant ones—five times the estrogen during the first two months of pregnancy, according to one study, and a whopping 33 times as much estrogen as the cow gets closer to term. As it turns out, the difference in hormone levels between Mongolian and American milk may indeed be significant enough to affect cancer rates.”

    • 30

      Hi Mary! Here’s the answer Organic Valley gave me when I forwarded them this comment: “We have not studied estrogen levels extensively in our cows with respect to this concern. But both nature and traditional farming techniques have for centuries resulted in lactating cows that are milked partly during pregnancy. Many of our farmer owners in the coop today use natural breeding techniques with bulls on pasture with cows, to do what they naturally do. All responsible farmers allow their pregnant cows to “dry” during the last months before birth, so that a cow has extra energy reserves for freshening.”

      Regarding the farm I toured, they do the majority of their breeding using bulls – some of the bulls are pictured in this post.

    • 32
      Michelle Stratton says:

      Mary, Your OV Farmer here!! Great question!
      As seasonal farmers, we need to keep a VERY tight window on our breeding schedule. We do use a little Artificial Insemination (AI) early on in our breeding season in an effort to keep our genetics fresh. For example, last season only two cows were bred artifically and lucky for us, one of them was a bull! (we named him Buddy) so the genetics that he passes on to our herd will be a new genetic strain. This year, we haven’t done any AI at all and don’t really plan to. We have 5 full grown bulls (Rusty, Doc, Tommy Boy, Carol & Buddy) on the farm and they are very good at what they do! Since transitioning to taller grazing, we have a 75% conception rate within 30 days! That means 75% of our mamas delivers their babies within 30 days.

      There is a portion of our season when we are milking them while they are pregnant but each and every cow gets her very own 60 day dry period where we don’t milk them at all, giving their bodies a good, natural break before they calf-in in the spring.

  21. 33
    Erin M. says:

    I didn’t know about the Omega 3s in organic milk!

  22. 34

    Before today I assumed all organic milk was grass-fed!

  23. 35

    We buy organic milk, but after reading this I’ll be switching to the Organic Valley brand. I love their regional/local focus. Sometimes I forget about that when I’m looking at price, but it’s an important consideration. Love this info. Thanks for sharing!

  24. 36

    That is so interesting! I didn’t realize eating just grass changed the milk so much! We only drink organic milk but I’m going to check the store next time to see if they offer it yet. I’m curious to see what the cost difference is. We already pay $6/gallon for organic which still makes me wince. I’d love to win the giveaway to try the grass fed milk! I’m an athlete and I think it’d be great for recovery!

  25. 37
    Kim Foster says:

    I really enjoyed your post! I love the mindset these farmers have, really going back to the way things used to be done and it’s being a good steward to Mother Earth. I would enjoy trying the grass milk!

  26. 38

    Interesting post! I see so many people switching to non dairy milk but I just love cow’s milk! I currently buy organic but I’ll be looking for the Grassmilk!
    It’s good to see a milk company that cares about the cows. :-)

  27. 39

    Can’t wait to try

  28. 40

    We love our grass fed yogurt in this house!

  29. 41
    Ashley v says:

    I think it’s incredible that the cows know what to do when it comes to the right grass. I may have known something about variety and rotation, but I figured it was just scheduled by the farmers. I love organic valley-it’s my go-to dairy.

  30. 43

    Such a cool trip! I had no idea that grassfeeding affects the omega-3 and omega-6 levels in the cows. That is interesting. I love the Organic Valley brand. I guess I should try the Grassmilk out!

  31. 44

    Wow that had to be such a fun trip. I usually don’t go for regular milk because of a lactose issue (can have yogurt and some ice cream but not a glass of milk) but it would be interesting to see if the Grassmilk might be ok. Any thoughts on that?

    • 45

      Hi Beth! Great question. I asked Organic Valley about this, and they said they are not aware of any research around the effects of 100% grassfed dairy consumption on people with lactose intolerance. The amount of lactose in Grassmilk is similar to what is found in regular milk. That said, Organic Valley does also produce an organic lactose-free milk which would be a good option for you!

    • 48
      Michelle Stratton says:

      Beth, Your OV Farmer Michelle here!
      I too suffer from a mild lactose intolerance. Before moving to a dairy farm I only drank Almond milk! But our organic grassfed milk NEVER bothers me! although I do drink it raw, I think there are possibilities for other lactose-challenged people in GrassMilk!

  32. 49

    Thanks for this Anne, so informative and interesting! Makes me want to switch completely to Grassmilk! Hope you’re well 😊

  33. 50
    Evelyne says:

    This was a great post! I buy OV milk for my kids!

  34. 51

    I had no idea there was a difference between organic and organic grass fed, so interesting!

  35. 52
    Heather says:

    I had no idea Grassmilk was even a thing!

  36. 53

    i loved learning that cows were intuitive eaters…. how cool!

  37. 54
    Elisabeth says:

    Fascinating the cows seems to know how much they need of various plant/grass varieties!

  38. 55
    Jennifer says:

    Did they happen to say where the cows go once they are unable to produce milk anymore? I would be heartbroken to take care of those sweet cows for so long and then have to turn around and sell them for slaughter :(

    • 56

      Unfortunately once the cows are too old for milking they are sold for meat. I asked them about that and they said it’s hard to say goodbye but that they have to remind themselves it’s part of life/their business. In better news, organic cows live much longer than conventional cows. :)

    • 57
      Michelle Stratton says:

      Jennifer, Your OV Farmer here!
      Anne’s correct, sadly we aren’t able to keep every cow on the farm as pets, although we both would really love to! On our farm, an average life span of a cow is MUCH older than a typical conventional farm where cows usually move on after just 3 lactations. Our oldest mama right now is 10 years old! Her name is Toni (AKA Old Tone) and she’s still in exceptional health and producing milk and is quite happy!

  39. 58
    Kayla M. says:

    This was a great post! Before today, I actually had no idea grass milk even existed. I have been an organic milk buyer for almost a year now and I would love to try this new milk! So awesome. I especially loved the facts about the Amish farmers – I grew up in Lancaster, PA and I am very familiar with that community. It is so reassuring to see how much love that couple has for there cows! Thanks for sharing.

  40. 59
    Katie M says:

    I didn’t realize that Grassfed cows made milk that was so much healthier. I wonder if the Calcium is also affected? I’d like to try Grassfed milk to increase my omega 3’s.

  41. 60
    Vanisha says:

    Great post! Thanks so much for the info!

  42. 61
    Vicky N. says:

    I was interested to learn the differences in omega3 and 6 balance! I am always looking to try products that are more animal-friendly!

  43. 62
    Jackie k says:

    Great giveaway! I didn’t realize the difference bw organic milk and organic grass fed milk. Thanks for all the info!

  44. 63

    I never really thought about the difference btwn standard organic and grassfed organic. Informative! I’d love to give this to my daughter.

  45. 64
    Rebecca says:

    Thanks for giving the info about the difference between conventional, organic, and grassfed milk! I learned a lot, and will definitely be taking the info with me to the grocery store.

  46. 65
    Dana Longwell says:

    very informative and interesting post! I’m so impressed by the cows knowing what kind of grass they need at the time and eating accordingly. Its so nice to hear about people loving their work so much and doing something just because it’s the right thing to do. I’d love to try the grassmilk because its the healthiest option (unless I misunderstood what I read).

  47. 66

    I learned that the cows can leave the barn whenever after being milked! Interesting!

  48. 68

    Very interesting and informative!

  49. 69

    I learned the difference between the various omegas!

  50. 70
    paige c says:

    I would love to try grass milk because i want to know how it tastes in comparison to their other milks!

  51. 71

    I didn’t know there was a difference between organic and grass-fed organic. I also didn’t know cows were intuitive eaters!

  52. 72
    Colleen says:

    Interesting trip!

  53. 73
    Annmarie says:

    Wow, the information on the Omega 6/Omega 3 was fascinating. My mother is also a dietitian so I’m shocked I’ve never even heard of Omega-6 before!

  54. 74

    I had no idea cows could be intuitive eaters! So cool.

  55. 75

    How interesting, the Omega 6:3 ratio. Biochemistry is fascinating

  56. 76
    Dorothy says:

    I really enjoyed this post, Anne! I read the whole thing through, not even realizing it was a giveaway (I guess I skim titles and must have missed the big “+Giveaway” ;) ). I was excited to learn the difference between the organic vs. Grass-fed diet of a cow…I’ve been making a point to choose more and more Grass-fed and organic meats and foods, just knowing they’re better for my family (and better tasting), but I love hearing about the details and the farmers! I’d love you to do a post on the differences on all the different egg options out there…it takes me far too long to read through all of the details to make a decision every time :)

  57. 78
    Caroline says:

    I didn’t realize there was a difference between organic and grassfed organic – thanks for the info!

  58. 79
    Kristina N. says:

    I had no idea how important grass fed organic milk is! Would love to try this product because this is the first time I’ve heard of the product.

  59. 80
    Amanda Swanson says:

    Wow, I never knew there were so many benefits to grassfed! How neat that you could pay a visit to the farm.

  60. 81

    I loved the info about the omega 6 being higher in conventional milk. I had no idea!

  61. 82

    I didn’t know Omega 6’s were pro-inflammatory!

  62. 83

    I learned that the more grass cows are fed, the better that omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is!

  63. 84

    Omega 6, wow

  64. 85
    Jessica says:

    I’ve been wanting to try the grassmilk for a while now. So interesting to learn about the omega 3/ omega 6 ratios.

  65. 86

    Looks like a great visit

  66. 87
    Roadrunner says:

    Thanks, Anne, a wonderful, hugely informative post. Very compelling facts, figures, and observations!

  67. 88

    I had no idea that Organic Valley sources their milk regionally- such a great idea!

    I’m a huge fan of their lactose free milk (and I buy like 2 gallons a week of it (my husband prefers it and has a mild intolerance)) so I’d be excited to try the grassfed milk.

  68. 89

    Interesting!!

  69. 90
    colleenmarie says:

    We drink organic milk but I have never paid too much attention to if it was grassfed organic milk. I will start looking for that on the label.

  70. 91
    ChristinaC says:

    The difference in omega 6 / omega 3 ratio is so interesting!

  71. 92
    Tyffanie says:

    I learned that eating too much grain isn’t good for the cows!

  72. 93
    meredith says:

    That’s fantastic about the omega ratio. Do you know anything about the lactose (is it suitable for lactose intol. folks) in grassfed?

    • 94

      Someone else just asked this too – great question! I asked Organic Valley about this, and they said they are not aware of any research around the effects of 100% grassfed dairy consumption on people with lactose intolerance. The amount of lactose in Grassmilk is similar to what is found in regular milk. That said, Organic Valley does also produce an organic lactose-free milk which would be a good option for you!

  73. 95
    Jennifer says:

    The omega ratios is new info to me. I never even thought about that in relation to milk before. I stopped drinking milk because the hormones apparently in milk specifically can affect acne (and I’m adult and don’t need to deal with that anymore ;). But I’d love to try this because as much as I love almond milk, I miss real milk in my coffee!

  74. 96

    I’ve been wondering about this grassmilk product. Thanks for posting this! Very informative, especially details on how a grass diet differs vs. grain diet (for the cows).

  75. 97
    Karla Hudson says:

    Great post! Very cool at how high a percentage of Amish are the farmers!

  76. 98

    Very cool milk product. I only buy organic for my little boy and would love to try this.

    • 99

      I forgot to write what I learned. ◾Cows have to be fed and treated to meet organic standards for a full 12 months before their milk can be sold as organic

  77. 100
    Sarah Evans says:

    Who knew there was a difference in organic and grass fed milk? I am very conscious of what I give my little girl as she LOVES milk. So I only want the best, even though it’s $7-8+ for a gallon! It is worth it. Thank you for giving us all the facts and a lot of information I didn’t know but made my decision to buy only quality that much more solidified.

  78. 101

    Very interesting, I was not even aware of grass fed milk! I probably have 1-2 servings of milk per day, so I was also interested to learn about omega-6 vs omega-3 and how the lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 can reduce the risk of chronic diseases. I’m fascinated by how much our diets have an impact on our overall health.

  79. 102

    Thanks for the giveaway! I’d love for my family to try it as they don’t eat organic dairy. I’d love to try grassfed, to see the taste difference. And I love organic valley! And I want to try the yogurt if I can haha.

  80. 103

    Anne, I love your posts and your bright outlook on life and look forward to getting your emails. While I applaud these folks for basically having pets and treating their cows MUCH MORE humanely than the factory farm “milk parlors”. I wonder why humans actually need cow’s milk when there are other options available. I would be interested in hearing your comments if you have the time to read The China Study.

    • 104

      Thank you for reading, Kim, and for your kind words! In my opinion, dairy consumption is a matter of preference. I don’t think dairy is necessary to meet human’s nutritional needs, nor do I think we need to have a certain amount of servings per day to be healthy. That said, I love dairy – I think it’s delicious, it doesn’t bother my GI system, and it’s a great source of protein for me at breakfast and snacktime. Do I have to have dairy every day? No, and I don’t always have it every day, but I do most days because I like it and it feels good for my body to have it. I think that’s the key – do what feels right for you and your body.

  81. 105
    Claudia Santisteban says:

    Interesting fact about amish people providing for Organic Valley!

  82. 106

    This was a great post! Thanks for sharing, Anne. I had some vague idea that grass-added cows produced better milk than conventionally/grain-fed cows, but I didn’t realize how dramatically grass-feeding could affect the Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio! I would love to feed my young children organic grassmilk. Right now we’re using conventional milk, but the benefits or organic and grass-fed milk really speak to me.

    I loved the part where you describe the cows coming in to the barn on their own and then some of them staying with a group of rowdy calves. That paints such a great picture of the milking process on that farm.

  83. 107

    What a cool experience. It would be so much fun to visit/work on a dairy farm like that for a week! That would be a great vacation.

  84. 108

    I learned that there’s a lot of Amish farmers! I’d love to try the milk because it’s much more ethical than regular dairy milk.

  85. 109
    Michelle Stratton says:

    Anne,
    Thank you for writing such a great article! David and I are really impressed how you painted such a great picture of our farm! and you took such great pictures too! THANK YOU!!

    I’d like to add one point about our nurse calf system if I could. Not too many farmers allow babies to nurse directly from their own mama. But by never separating the babies from their mamas, the calves learn to eat grass right away (we’ve seen some babies eating grass straight from their mamas mouths!) and we believe that the overall health of the entire herd is improved and of course the natural bond between mama cow and her calf is enhanced. Even though it’s less milk that we can put into our tank, (ie our salary) it’s a practice that we both believe is the best for the cows. And that is, and always has been, our priority.

    Thanks again Anne! Come and visit us anytime!
    Michelle & David Stratton

    • 110

      Thank you again for having us, Michelle! I loved meeting you both and seeing your beautiful farm in action. Thank you for sharing this additional point with us – I love that you make the cows your priority. It shows!

  86. 111
    Christina says:

    I loved learning about the process with improving the industry standard for “grass-fed dairy” products and regulating product claims. Customers always appreciate having clearer information to making good choices, and I appreciate knowing that real experts and people who are passionate about health are part of this process.

  87. 112
    Kathrin says:

    I love the reassurance the Organic Valley is raising their cows right! This makes me a lot more confident in the company and less skeptical of what happens behind closed doors. I love their raw Grassmilk cheese!!

  88. 113

    Loved reading this article! I wonder how much acreage you have to have to rotate your herd so many times and allow the grass to regrow. We do get out not-quite-organic and grass fed in the summer milk from a local farmer. I wonder how the OV milk compares.

  89. 114

    i didn’t realize how much grass vs. grains would affect the omega 3:6 ratio of the milk that cows produce. it makes sense now that you’ve explained it… obviously what they’re fed affects their bodies, which in turn affects their milk! would love to try this!

  90. 115

    It’s very interesting that cows have to be treated as organic for so long for them to sell as organic. I love the way they treat their animals. Hard work for sure, but props to them for doing the LITERAL unconventional thing!

  91. 116
    Christina says:

    I had no idea that there would be a difference in the amount of protein between grasses at varying maturities! That’s pretty interesting!

  92. 117

    I didn’t realize the majority of farmers are Amish!

  93. 118

    I learned that the more grass cows are fed, the better that omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is. I would love to try this because my family drinks alot of milk!

  94. 119

    Well first of all, I learned that “grassmilk” even exists! And I didn’t know Organic Valley was actually a farmers’ co-op.

  95. 120
    Kimberly says:

    Very interesting post! I had no idea that different grasses have different proteins/nutrients :)

  96. 121

    I didn’t realize there was a ratio between omega-6 and omega 3 in cows milk. I will say that we have been happily enjoying Organic Valley Grassmilk for about 2 years now. I love the fact that my family is enjoying milk that is minimally processed and is from animals that are happy and cared for!

  97. 122

    Interesting post! I didn’t know the difference so thanks for clarifying.

  98. 123

    Wow! That slide about the Omega-3/Omega-6 ratio is crazy! My RD nerd-brain loved it!

  99. 124
    Corinne Montgomerie says:

    I grew up in the Uk and always had whole milk. I just bought some of your grass fed yoghurt and was thrilled! It tastes wonderful, and believe me, I think the yoghurt & milk I have been consuming has contributed to my very sensitive stomach. I love the fact that you are dedicated to grass feeding and therefore very “natural.” Thank you!

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