March 4, 2010

Where Is My Milk From

Some student at Brigham Young got the list of dairies from the FDA.  Then they set up a website where you can plug in the number off your carton of milk and find out where that milk came from.  One interesting thing you can see using this database, is that several different brands of milk at several different prices all come from the same farm and the same cows.  I have no clue if this means they are processed the same way?  It seems amazing to me that this information has been published.  (Those crazy college kids!)  And it seems possible that it will be taken down soon.  So, I copied the list for NC.  Though, all milk or milk products sold in NC don't necessarily come from NC.  Some folks talk about the dangers of centralized food production.  I'm not that uptight about such thoughts from a dooms-day perspective.  But I do think its interesting to note that there are 24 dairies listed here.  One hundred years ago there would have been about that many for any one of the bigger cities of the time.  Tiny Chapel Hill, for instance, had 12 working dairies within city limits in the 1930s.

But this can't be the whole story.  There are many many dairies in my county not on this list.  So, each business on the list must be a bulk collection area - where the milk is processed.  If you search on the site, they give a map to each plant.  But you can not learn from this list where the actual cows live.  If you dig in deeper, you can find a list of all the "products" made on site from the milk collected.  That is illuminating.  And may explain price differences?  I don't know.  Perhaps cheaper milk is processed differently than more expensive milk?   An interesting quandary.  And what of "organic" milk?  I think it is now processed in all the same plants.  What are you actually drinking?  Its oddly hard to say.   And we still don't know where it originates.
37-046 Alamance Foods Inc Burlington
37-126 Barkers Dairy Farm Oxford
37-235 Cobblestone Milk Cooperative Olin
37-102 Dairy Fresh - High Point High Point
37-083 Dairy Fresh Llc Winston-salem
37-210 Dairy Farmers Of America (Bulk Tank Unit # 01) Greensboro
37-211 Dairy Farmers Of America (Bulk Tank Unit # 02) N. Wilkesboro
37-219 Dairy Farmers Of America (Bulk Tank Unit # 03) Asheville
37-221 Dairy Farmers Of America (Bulk Tank Unit # 05) Statesville
37-222 Dairy Farmers Of America (Bulk Tank Unit # 06) Winston-salem
37-225 Dairy Farmers Of America (Bulk Tank Unit) - Koopman Farm Statesville
37-127 Glade Creek Dairy Ennice
37-093 Homeland Creamery Llc Julian
37-087 Hunter Farms - High Point High Point
37-089 Jackson Dairy Spiveys Corner
37-043 Maola Milk & Ice Cream Co New Bern
37-203 Md & Va Mpa (Bulk Tank Unit # 01) N. Wilkesboro
37-204 Md & Va Mpa (Bulk Tank Unit # 02) Hickory
37-205 Md & Va Mpa (Bulk Tank Unit # 03) Winston-salem
37-206 Md & Va Mpa (Bulk Tank Unit # 04) Charlotte
37-082 Milkco Inc Asheville
37-050 Ncsu Dairy Plant Raleigh
37-224 Ncsu - Lake Wheeler Dairy Raleigh
37-215 Piedmont Milk Sales Inc Blountville, Tn

12 comments:

Ticodillo said...

Hi my name is David and I work at an organic dairy in Iowa. Conventional dairy plants can process organic milk, the caveat for this is that everything needs to be washed prior to the process. The "big wigs" Horizon and Organic Valley, have employed this technique from what i hear. If i'm not mistaken the kids from BYU got the info from here http://tinyurl.com/y8femfz . The way you break down a plant number is like this : Our P# is 19-888 the 19 is the state where its from and the other digits are the actual plant #. The reason why you can't find your local dairy plants is because the list on the FDA site is for inter-state milk shippers if your local plants don't ship out of state they probably won't need a number.
I love your quotes btw, I have a 2 going on 3yr old with a very active mind and ideas and we want as parents to always foment her imagination/intellectual freedom. Thanks for the food for thought.

Katherine said...

Hey David,
Thanks for all that information. Do you work directly with the cows?
Cheers, Katherine

Katherine said...

I just checked out your site. What a great looking dairy co-op. Is it a co-op? Are your farmers making more on the gallon that most dairy farmers these days? ~K

Ticodillo said...

Katherine, I don't really work with the cows directly, but we have staff here that work directly with our farmers.They go out and help the farmers with any certifications and inspections that they have to go through. I work on the production side of things, actually getting the milk from the farms to the consumers.
The farmers own a large portion of the company, so when we turn a profit they get share in it, but we aren't a coop. In regards to the milk prices, organic farmers have fared way better than conventional. Last year when there was a huge dip in conventional milk prices our prices stayed the same. So our farmers are doing well.

Katherine said...

Its generous of you to discuss this with me. Thank you.

I have been talking on a cow forum with other small producers about the price of milk vs. what the farmers are getting paid. It seems pretty obvious the middle men are doing fine. I haven't heard of anyone on the corporate side shooting them selves. Unfortunately, as I'm sure you know, some farmers have gotten so desperate suicides have happened. It seems clear the farmers aren't being paid a living wage - yet the corporations are going strong. So, on the forum I've been suggesting that farmers look into different marketing strategies - to study what IS working for other farmers. That's why I'm curious about your operation. I've been thinking that a farmer owned bottling cooperative might be worth investigating. Well, not for me. I just milk my cow for my family. But it breaks my heart, what's happening in the industry. Not to mention, the low quality of the milk. So, your farmers are getting paid. And, you all are producing a high quality product. Good For You! :o)

Katherine said...

david & betsy has left a new comment on your post "Where Is My Milk From":

The milk I purchased here in Charlotte both this week and last week came from High Point. How interesting.

Katherine said...

Isn't that interesting? And do you know that its disassembled, parts are taken out, added, changed, then its reassembled and bottled? How can that not change the nutrient value? Truth is, it does.

Katherine said...

Betsy, it might be fun to drive out and see the farm where I bought Elderberry: http://www.creeksideacresfarm.com/ Its on the outskirts of Charlotte.

Ticodillo said...

With your permission, I'll comment some more... I don't want to abuse the hospitality per se, so if you want me to be "quiet" then I'll do so without hurt feelings.
From my understanding (my responsibilities are post arrival at the plant- production, but i share an office with my boss/milk/plant/farms manager so I hear what's happening in the milk market)the end of last year beginning of this year the organic industry was bracing for a glut in the milk market. A large amount of the big wigs were dropping farmers. We had a good 09, and all of the sudden at the beginning of the year were looking for places to sell our milk. All this up and down has been rough on everyone, I will proudly say though that our farmers have fared very well ,thanks to our smaller scale and goo management, compared to conventional farmers and to organic farmers elsewhere. One of the main reasons for this is that this Creamery was actually put in place for our farmers. The Amish, due to their religious beliefs do not work on Sundays, were having problems with selling their milk. So they decided to make a way for themselves, and that's how we were born. We don't pick up at the farms on Sundays they're happy and we're happy. The cool thing about the Amish is that they are basically the most animal-friendly and sustainable farmers out there.
About the disassembling... I must say, it's amazing! Milk is made , unmade shipped to the east coast comes back made into this and that 1%,2%,whey,cream,etc. This is very true in conventional operations and somewhat in organic operations. We bottle what we get from our farmers and sell bulk what we don't bottle, after that we lose track. I have heard of Iowa milk going to New York once or twice so who knows just because it was processed at High Point doesn't mean the milk came from there. Wow I rambled... Sorry. Like I said, last thing I want is to be a nuisance so say the word and I'll stick to reading =).

Ticodillo said...

Thought you might like this link. He is very informative about the comings and going in the conventional dairy business(not as much in the organic),but he's all for the farmers and their rights.The Milkweed

Katherine said...

David, I am grateful for any information you are willing to share. Your last post is so interesting, I'm thinking about reposting it. I think the world is in need of more education with regard to our food in general and our milk specifically. If you ever feel like writing an essay, let me know. I have guest posted before and I always enjoy it. Thanks again! Katherine

Ticodillo said...

Katherine, I would love to. Not much of a writer, but I'll try =).Not crazy about posting my addy, its my work email anyways d.diller@farmerscreamery.com