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    Aurora Dairy Undercuts Consumer Confidence

    Aod_logo One of the nation's largest organic dairies must stop using the organic label on some of its products because it is not producing that milk organically.

    Aurora Organic Dairy provides the organic milk Wal-Mart, Costco, Wild Oats, Trader Joe’s and Safeway sell under their own brand names. The dairy agreed to make major changes in the way it operates a Colorado facility and, reports Environmental News Service, stop posting the organic label to some of its milk after the U.S Department of Agriculture threatened to revoke its organic certification for not allowing its cows enough time at pasture. To continue operating as a certified organic dairy, Aurora must provide daily access to pasture during the growing season.

    The USDA action was initiated in 2005 when the Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute, an advocate for family farms, claimed that Aurora Organic violated federal standards that require access to pasture for organic dairy cows at its Platteville, Colorado facility.  In the course of its investigation, the USDA also determined that animals were not being properly transitioned from traditional to organic practices, among other infractions.

    Under the agreement it reached with the government, Aurora will not renew the organic certification for its Woodward, Colorado facility as it works to improve operations at Platteville. But for consumers, a bigger issue looms.

    Demand for organic milk has never been higher. At the same time, consumer confidence in organic manufacturers is not rock solid, given scandals like these and the general belief many consumers have that “green” and organic products are not worth the extra money they cost.

    When companies like Aurora intentionally undercut the standards they’re supposed to represent, they do a disservice to every other company trying to live up to that standard. They also send a message to shoppers that they can’t trust the marketplace – even though the marketplace is where shoppers can make the greatest difference in protecting the environment.

    Thumb_brown_2 We expect more from organic companies like Aurora. We should get it. Until we do, thumbs down.

    If you want to let Aurora Dairy know they need to earn back your trust, send a letter or make a call to Mark Retzloff, president and “chief organic officer."

    Mark Retzloff
    Aurora Organic Dairy
    1401 Walnut Street, Fifth Floor,
    Boulder, CO 80302


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    I prefer to just buy soy milk. I don't know if I necessarily trust the "organic" label on that stuff, either, but then, if animals aren't involved, I'm pretty indifferent. Soy milk is frequently on sale cheaper than regular milk at the store I go to.

    I also don't know what I'm really getting a lot of the time when I read "organic", "free range", etc. on meat or eggs, because it's hard to find specific information about any of the farms. I'm not a vegetarian, but it's definitely led me to cut back significantly on the amount of meat I eat.

    Diane MacEachern

    Candice, I generally feel like "organic" is pretty reliable (apart from Aurora), though I mostly buy from the organic dairy farmer at my farmer's market. I know and trust him, and it makes a difference. You're right about the "free range" label - it sounds good, but it's hard to know if it really makes a difference. At least at the farmer's market, it's easier to get verification.


    I also usually buy soy milk. I just feel better when consuming less dairy, organic or not. I've actually switched over to be a veggie, and moving towards veganism, albeit very very slowly.

    Diane MacEachern

    The dietary switches sound good. I wish you all the best as you find a more healthy and eco-friendly diet.

    improve performance

    Soy is naturally high in essential fatty acids, proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and i love it!!

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