Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Certified Pasture?

As some of you know, Brad and I try to to eat "all natural and organic" whenever possible. Sometimes it is dang expensive, but we feel like it is totally worth it. There have been times that we haven't been able to afford to buy everything all natural or organic, but typically in those situations, we buy organic "essentials." (Meat, dairy, fruits, veggies...)

Anyways, we have been incredibly impressed with Target lately - really focusing a lot of their buying towards all natural/organic food. We've been buying their skim organic milk since before we even got married. About a month ago, HyVee really impressed us. After Brad left the gym early in the morning (before Target opened) he went to pick up some milk - because if you know Brad, you know that he rarely goes a day without a couple glasses of milk. Personally, white milk makes me gag and has no appeal whatsoever. I'm more a yogurt girl!

When Brad brought home the milk, I noticed that it wasn't "organic," but "Certified Pasture."  I asked him what that was all about and he directed me to the side of the milk carton. It was from a company called Grass Point Farms with all of their products coming from family farms in Wisconsin. It had this amazing chart comparing regular dairy industry guidelines and USDA certified organic guidelines to "Certified Pasture" guidelines. It was incredible to read and realize that even the USDA has semi-lax standards for organic farmers. The one that really stood out to me, was called "Dual Production." This allows large companies who want to tap into the ever-growing organic market to treat some animals inhumanely and pump them full of antibiotics and hormones and on the other side of their farm, abide by organic standards. In doing so, large corporations are taking the business from family farmers and making what should be a pure business practice into a twisted one. It's so sad to me that some organic farmers are finding loopholes to being legitimate and don't really believe in the cause itself, but love the money that rolls in because of it.

I went to Grass Point's website and it is pretty incredible - they even have pictures of their farms and a "Meet the Farmers" page. They are very clear about their philosophy and state it very well on their website.  Here's an excerpt from their description of "grass fed dairy."

A fundamental understanding of the grass fed dairy concept requires little more than a literal translation of the words. Grass Fed Dairy is the entire food cycle from providing natural pastures for dairy cows to graze upon to our wholesome, delicious milk, cheese and other dairy products that you enjoy. A greater understanding of grass fed dairy gets much more personal. It’s the farmer and his family making decisions around their kitchen table, choosing to run their business with what is natural for their cows, in harmony with the environment and right for their family. It’s our products that bring you the best that Wisconsin dairy farming has to offer. Surprisingly, the current national organic dairy standards do not require cows to graze as the cows graze at Grass Point Farms. 

Grass Point Farms brings the simple concept of pasture raising dairy cows from the past, to the dairy farms of today’s Wisconsin landscape. We follow the milk from our farms through our bottling and cheese plants, making sure that the milk, cheese and butter products are made solely from the milk of pasture raised, grass fed cows. The result? Dairy products that are healthier and more flavorful than any you have ever tasted.

Until now, standards for the pasture raising of dairy cows simply did not exist. Seeing this conspicuous void, Grass Point Farms created our own very detailed standards that follow the entire food cycle. We have addressed the natural diet and environment of dairy cows. By the design of nature, cows are grass eaters. Their first inclination is to peacefully wander through thick pastures, eating as they go. Because this is their nature, it is also the best way for cows to live long and healthy lives. Our standards address all the best practices of dairy farming. From allowing for enough pasture land for each cow to graze on for as much time as the seasons will allow to requiring each farm to create an environmental stewardship plan, our farmers have taken every step possible to ensure the well being of each and every cow in their herd.

I wanted to scan the side of the milk jug in, so that everyone could see the amazing chart, but it was pretty blurry. I figured this was just too interesting, so I decided to type it up. Here it is! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Common Practices
Description regarding the well-being of farm animals
Certified Pasture
(Grass Point Farms)

Industry Guidelines
National Organic Program (USDA)

Outdoor Access for Cows
Helps prevent abnormal behaviors and enhances vigor, heath and overall immune system


Not Required

Yes; but with debate on definition
Pasture Management Requirements
Helps insure proper diet, healthy soils and grasses


Not Required

Not Required

Dual Production (different standards of care are applied to different groups of animals
Allows industrial agribusiness to raise some animals with higher standards and the rest under cruel conditions while out-competing humane family farmers



Independent Family Farmers (Family owns the farm, participates in the majority of the daily labor and the farm provides a meaningful livelihood.)

Higher assurance that animals will be cared for as individuals and that a humane ethic will be passed on to future generations.

Mandatory, with a minimum of 50% family farm labor requirement

Not required

Not Required

Carbon Footprinting Standards
Helps reduce the impact human and animal activities have on the environment in terms of green house gases produced


Not required

Not required

Comprehensive Farm Management Plan
Requires a written farm management plan considering environmental stewardship practices


Not required

Not required

Farm Inspections
Assurance that standard claims are being followed


Not required


Unified Grass, Animal Care, and Environmental Standards
Ability to address and comply to a complete list of standards impacting the health and well being of dairy cows, family farmers, land, air and water





  1. Wow! I haven't seen this in stores yet, I will have to look for it.

    I haven't heard about dual production before either and I will definietly have to look into that more! It's just becoming appalling how people are bending the rules now in order to dupe people who are trying to make good choices about their consumption.

    I wonder if there are any of these pastures in Nebraska or if it's just in Wisconsin so far. Did it taste better?

    p.s. I'm diggin' the new look of the blog! Love ya!

  2. I love the new look of the blog too! Have you considered getting rid of the blue blogger navigation bar at the top? On some blogs people just adjust the color so it matches with their blog. Here are steps how to get rid of it entirely. Let me know if you have questions:
    Remove the navbar:

    Click the "design" tab
    Click "template designer"
    Click "advanced"
    Click "Add CSS"
    Copy and paste the following HTML into the "Add CSS" box to remove the Navbar (the blogger searchbar at the top) Here's what you need to copy and paste: #navbar-iframe { display: none !important; }

    Here's an example when they just changed the color of the header. You can goole it to figure out how to do it. http://olivegreenanna.blogspot.com/2011/04/every-day-life-few-aprils-days.html

    Love the idea of Certified Pasture. And I myself have been really impressed with Hyvee. It's almost easier to go organic shopping there than Whole Foods since it's so much smaller of a section.

    Also, I totally agree on the importance of grass fed. Do you remember those farmer's we met at that dinner? They run Thistles and Clover. I'm going to have to check out Certified Pasture. Can't wait till the farmers market starts again.

    lv ya!

  3. Hey girls -

    Thanks! I thought it was about time for a change! And thank you Amanda for the suggestion about removing the navbar! I just did it and it definitely looks better! I still want to do a few things, but I'm not very saavy!

    And about the Certified Pasture milk - Brad said it tasted WAY better. (Granted, Brad is a dude, so he didn't really jump up and down and scream, but when I asked him, he said..."Yeah, it really does." :)

    Love you girls!

  4. Yay! It looks so good! And give yourself some credit. Most people don't even understand what a blog is, let alone know how to edit html! Good work.

    Lv ya!

  5. Oh and I totally took your idea about posting the number of pageviews. So fun. Thanks!

  6. who is the third party that does the certification? as far as i can see, they make their own guidelines for farms they contract with. "certified pasture" is their own stamp, there is no third party. why not use a recognized organization like "certified humane"?