Sunday, April 20, 2008

Milk, Old School.

It's been quite some time since I've had Oberweis milk, but now I'm considering buying it on a regular basis. It's not a decision that I am entirely comfortable with, but I think it's the right thing for now. It's the juggling of politics, environmental awareness, and taste that I struggle with when trying to be a good consumer.

Let me be clear, Oberweis is damn good milk. Period. But I thought that I would publicly express some of my concerns and praises for this product.

Advantages:
1. Fresh, clean, natural flavor. Oberweis milk is pasteurized at 173ºF instead of 185ºF (according to their website), which helps to prevent a cooked milk flavor.
2. Oberweis gets its milk from small to medium sized dairies.
3. Oberweis does not allow the use of rBGH growth hormones.
4. The glass containers do not impart any off flavors to the milk.
5. The glass bottles can be reused - the ultimate form of recycling. I really, really like products that you don't have to throw away or melt down to recycle.
6. Glass is just...cool.

Disadvantages:
1. I strongly disagree with Jim Oberweis's politics. Namely, his "21st Century Energy Policy" which focuses on oil drilling in Alaska, ethanol, and nuclear power.
2. It's more expensive than the most brands - about a penny more per ounce than Prairie Farms for the same quantity.
3. Oberweis milk is not organic. They claim the only thing keeping it from being certified organic is using non-organic cow feed. They also assert that the quality of their milk is better than cows that have been fed organic food.
4. They don't indicate exactly where they get their milk, so there is no way of telling how far the milk travels to reach my grocery store. I can say with some certainty that it travels at least from North Aurora, IL.

At this point, I'm not sure if the good outweighs the bad. I really would like to support local agriculture and purchase organic milk. If anyone knows of a local dairy that packages in glass, let me know. I would even consider purchasing local organic milk that is packaged in cardboard if the taste is not significantly altered and the price point is reasonable. But as far as I'm concerned, nothing beats glass.

23 comments:

Chef Kevin said...

No comment about the milk, but that is the neatest organized 'frideg I think I've ever seen!

You made the statement about the possibility of not buying Oberweis milk in the future due to politics. I'm the same way and even blogged about it.

Annie said...

What a thoughtful post. I agree that Oberweis is delicious, but vitamin A can break down rapidly in transparent bottles (scroll about halfway down to the Fortification section). In addition, I worry about increased fuel costs in shipping such heavy glass. I can't help but wonder if that cancels the benefits of the recycling.

Due to the politics of Oberwise, I prefer to buy Organic Valley milk, whose flavor I love in spite of the ultra-pasteurization (it does have a bit of "cooked milk" flavor). Also, I prefer grass-fed cows even over organic grain-fed cows both for our nutrition and the cow's health. It's very expensive, however, so I print coupons here.

Keith Shank said...

Kevin: I searched your blog, but was unable to find the post. Could you send me a link to it? Also, my fridge looks so neat because I never have much food in it!

Annie: I believe (after reviewing their website) that Organic Valley's main focus is the environment and quality. I think Oberweis's main concern is quality, and any environmental benefit is purely consequential. I wonder, though, how much energy and pollutants are created transporting and recycling paperboard, opposed to transporting heavy glass and washing it? You also must consider the fact that many people will not recycle the paperboard containers, but most will return the glass bottles for the 85¢ deposit. Even when the paperboard is placed in the recycling bin, not all will make it to the plant; some will be diverted to the landfill anyway. However, paper is still far better than plastic. There are a lot of things to consider, but thank you for taking the time to reply to my post. I really enjoy the coupon link, also. Incidentally, Oberweis claims that all the storage locations must install special filters over the lights to prevent the degradation of vitamins.

I'm really looking for a local farm that's even closer than Organic Valley (which is nation wide). Possibly one that sells from the farm or local farmer's markets. However, I think I will give Organic Valley a try. In fact, maybe a milk taste test is in order.

Cheers!

Annie said...

I'm not sure if you want to try raw milk, but there are some local supplies of raw cow and goat's milk listed here. I suspect prices will be high, but hopefully quality would be too. Getting the milk is probably the biggest problem as these appear to be smaller farms.

Suzi Riot said...

Evil, vile, delicious Republican milk!

Brae said...

Forget about the milk - look at the beautiful Salmon on your fridge. Mmmmm.... Salmon....Seriously though, interesting how milk (raw, thermalized, and pasteurized) generates so much conversation. I just noticed that Marler Clark came out with a new blog post last night called, 'Raw Milk to be a Marler Clark Growth Sector?' Might be an even more interesting year for milk than normal.

Jennifer said...

I haven't tried the Oberweis milk. I'm, sadly, a milk-hater.

But my kids both drink a lot of milk and I'm considering buying organic milk for them. My stumbling block? We are on a limited budget, and with everything else going up, I'm not sure we can afford it. We seem to go through 3 gallons a week so the price difference per gallon does add up!

Anonymous said...

Ober-w does taste good. However, the non organic feed is like feeding them McDonald's every day instead of some good home cooking with veggies. I found a really good organic milk at Krogers. It is called Naturally Preffered. :)

Amy said...

We have Oberweis delivered every 2 weeks and I love the taste, but also have qualms about it as you do.
I wish someone would just show up at the Riverfront Mkt. with some local organic milk. I'd be all over it.
Holy clean fridge. I bet you don't have a bunch of kids and a spouse who likes to collect condiments from the asian grocery!

kelsey said...

You should try Traders Point Creamery milk out of Zionsville, Indiana (even more expensive than Oberweis, but wins in every other category mentioned), http://www.tpforganics.com/. Their yogurt is incredible, and their milk is non-homogenized. Look for their glass bottles in Whole Foods or other natural foods stores. Also Fair Oaks Farm on I-65 just south of Chicago, http://www.fofarms.com/ is very good, but not as widely distributed as Traders Point.

feasting-on-pixels (terrie) said...

This is a VERY interesting post...
I have been searching for local sources of milk from grass-fed cows.
I was recently diagnosed as a Celiac am reseaching milk for my own new health issues and my localavore life-style.

I am also reseaching the different local dairy farms for a post on my food blog to see if grass-fed cows milk was better for me and other people that can not tolerate gluten than the milk from grain-fed (wheat-fed)cows that may have residual elements that could make me ill.

I do so appreciate all your sources of your commenters as some are near the places that I live. (SW Chicago suburbs and NW Indiana).

Merci beaucoup for this help...

punkirebel said...

viagra online
buy viagra
generic viagra

katty said...

All the properties of the milk are really important not only for the children but the adult too. The milk contain many vitamin, potassium, calcium and iron.This kind of properties is needed for the people.

buy viagra

Anonymous said...

Kalona Super Organic products are the supreme winner for health and quality. Organic, non-homogenized, vat pasteurized, truly fresh, healthy cows, preferred milk producing breeds, pasture fed. The taste is of natural fresh milk and that is all.... Perfect!

Every other product that they produce is far superior to all competing brands that I have tried. If cost is an issue then go for quality and not quantity ;)

Marjon said...

Horizon is the best milk I have tasted yet. DELICIOUS! It is organic and is cheaper then Oberweis(which does taste good, I will admit). It does not come in a glass container however(comes in a red container with a happy cartoon cow on it). I have not tried raw milk yet though, that maybe the best.

Laura said...

Have you ever tried Kalona milk? They sell it at Whole Foods in the St. Louis area, so I am not sure if it is available to you or not. It is organic and from grass fed cows and it is low temp pasteurized. It's also non-homogenized. It's also delicious! I go back and forth between that and Oberwies because there is an Oberweis right down the street from me and sometimes that is just alot more convenient.

Anonymous said...

Just read 'Skinny Bitch' which confirmed feelings about mass-produced milk - I will NEVER drink it again. I couldn't make it through Ch. 6 without my heart racing. I'm searching for the truth about Oberweis and thank Annie for the link list of 'real' local farmers. For now I'm sticking with Oberweis. The amount of actual chemicals and antibiotics in typical grocery store milk is criminal. It's no wonder cancer and autism +++ are running rampant. USDA = Crooks. Protect yourself!

Anonymous said...

Also - learned that USDA Organic means absolutely nothing. If you want a dose of politics, it's ripe in the USDA and EPA $$$ - mass producing dairy and poultry/meat, at any human/moral/ethical cost. Horizon Organic has been reported to be treating their cows just like the terror farms, yet as huge 'pocket friends' w/USDA, nothing is being done. We have to do our own researh to know. Look for independant organic certification marks, NOT just USDA.

Anonymous said...

I happened upon this blog while looking for more humane milk... I've recently read about Horizon and am glad that I stopped drinking it several years ago, but now I'm looking to replace my Simple Truth milk, which tastes great, but doesn't get very good scores in the humane treatment category. I am contemplating Oberweis, which also tastes great, but I also hate to support a company who feels so different about environmental concerns than I do... and I want grass-fed, not grain-fed. :-\ Is there such a thing as good milk from a company who cares about more than their profit margins?

Anonymous said...

Organic milk allows for sick cows to be milked, which is scary. Eww. Oberweis does not, but they also don't allow anti-biotics. So, I don't buy organic or the regular milk, but I DO buy Oberweis.
I don't notice it tastes better than other milk. Cardboard tastes the best. Glass bottles are not good because light destroys taste and nutrients. So it's win some, lose some.

Anonymous said...

I buy 5 jugs of Oberwies milk a week. It's a shame I have to throw the glass away because theres no where to recycle it.

mcswigg said...

raw milk from homestead heritage. Buy from Carmel's farmers market. Beats out everyone's milk in taste and nutritional value

Anonymous said...

The bottles can be recycled at the store or from the delivery. Is this not an option in your area? They give me $2 for each bottle I return. Makes the milk very affordable.