The other day I wrote about my discovery that HEB's Central Market Organics' brand of whole milk is ultra-pasteurized in the half gallon size but not in the gallon size. (If you are not familiar with the difference, read about ultra-pasteurization here.) Yesterday at Kroger's, I quickly checked two other brands. One of them was "simple TRUTH", which is the new Kroger brand. The other was Horizon. The same thing held true for both: ultra-pasteurized in the half gallon but not in the gallon. Check your favorite brand. Generally, if you can't get raw milk, then whole organic, non ultra-pasteurized milk is the best you can do. Within that category, check out the brands available to you on Cornucopia's comparison list, which rates them according to farming practices. Horizon is rated in the lowest category (0 cows). Here's an excerpt from Cornucopia's review of Horizon:
They operate two corporate-owned farms, in Maryland and Idaho. Their Idaho facility, milking 4000–5000 cows, was originally a conventional factory-dairy that they converted to organic production. It has, according to widespread industry reports, very little access to pasture. Unlike the majority of all organic dairy farmers in the United States, who concentrate on the health and longevity of their cows, caring for them from birth, the Dean/Horizon Idaho farm sells off all their calves. Later, presumably to save money on organic feed and management, they buy one-year-old conventional animals on the open market. These replacements likely have received conventional milk replacer (made with blood—considered to be a "mad cow" risk), antibiotics, other prohibited pharmaceuticals, and genetically engineered feed. Many practices on a farm of this nature put ethical family-scale organic farmers at a competitive disadvantage.
The downfall with the Cornucopia list is that I can't find a date on it, so I don't know how current the information is. Also, I didn't see any information about the pasteurization issue. Organic Valley is one of the top-rated brands (4 cows) but I know when I have looked at it at Whole Foods, it was ultra-pasteurized. At the time, I didn't know to check the gallon size. I'll have to do that the next time I go. I primarily shop at HEB, and they do not carry Organic Valley at my location. I have learned to never take any milk product for granted though. Check the label each and every time you buy it.
Emma sent me a link the other day to realmilk.com's listing of raw milk suppliers, organized by state. It had been a long time since I looked at it. I was pleasantly surprised. It appears that the list has grown for our area. You might be able to find a raw milk farmer near you and avoid all the intrigue of store milk shopping. Check it out:
Where Can I Find Real (Raw) Milk?