The Big Carrot Milk Buying Guide

Got Milk? We sure do and now we have a great Milk Buying Guide too!

There are many divided opinions about the benefits of milk from ruminant animals but for those who do enjoy their dairy fresh from the cow (or ewe or goat) this guide offers information about each farm as well as descriptions of various agricultural practices. The Milk Guide is our third guide in a series of buying guides to help you make the right choice for you and your family. If you haven’t seen the others click here or look for them in-store.

As Canadians we don’t need to worry about RBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) in our Canadian milk supply. Health Canada, denied Monsanto’s application for approval of rBGH in 1999 after 5 years of grassroots opposition. (Learn more about how Canadians stopped RBGH here). We do however still have many other factors to consider when choosing this basic staple food: organic, grass-fed or single herd to name a few.

At The Big Carrot we believe organic agriculture is the best choice for your plate and our planet! We are proud to feature Organic pioneer brands like Organic Meadow and Harmony in our dairy case. Organic Meadow farms actually supply 80 per cent of all the organic milk in Ontario! Organic dairy cows spend the majority of their lives on pasture eating grass. During the winter they are fed on conserved grass, usually in the form of silage or hay, and other organic cereals to ensure they maintain a balanced and healthy organic diet. This natural diet and grazing lifestyle produces happy, healthy animals. Did you know that many people can observe the subtle change to the flavour of organic milk over the year, which follows the cycle when cows eat fresh grass outdoors in the summer and conserved grass in the winter?

Grass Fed dairies, such as Rolling Meadow, share the same philosophy as organic about the power of pasture. This currently unregulated claim, typically means that the ruminant animal consume only grass and forage with the exception of milk consumed prior to weaning. Producers forgo all grain and grain byproducts (starch and protein sources) and must ensure continuous access to pasture.

As Canadians we don’t need to worry about RBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) in our milk supply

In Canada, dairy milk (as well as egg, chicken, and turkey) industries operate under national supply management. Supply management systems can be effective at building strong local food systems, where consumers enjoy a stable supply of safe, affordable products and farmers receive a fair price. One outcome of the supply managed milk system is that the majority of milk in Ontario, some 2.5 billion litres a year, is pooled by the Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO). The DFO picks up milk every other day from most farms and takes the bulk of it to one of 70 private processing plants where it is pooled. About 35 to 40 per cent is processed into fluid milk while the remainder is turned into other dairy products including cheese, yogurt and butter.

In contrast to pooled milk a new option has emerged in recent years with the development of Ontario micro-dairies. For instance, Sheldon Creek Dairy milk comes from a small 50-cow herd on a 600 acre third generation family farm with state of the art on-farm processing.

Enjoy the additional information offered in the guide and when choosing a tall cool glass of the white stuff you might remember Michael Pollan’s words: “You are what what you eat eats”.


Maureen Kirkpatrick – Standards Coordinator