- Is your whole milk really whole milk?
- Milk composition, including fat, varies by breed
- Butterfat greatly impacts how dairy tastes
Are you ever confused by all of the different types of milk in the dairy case? Whole, 2%, 1%, 0%, reduced, skim, fat free. What does it all mean?
Milk is one of our most nutrient-dense foods—with calcium, protein, vitamins A & D, to name a few of its superpowers. The amount of butterfat (cream) in cow’s milk varies by breed. The iconic black and white Holstein produces milk with up to 4% fat while Jerseys—the ones with brown coats—produce richer-tasting milk with about 5% fat. Brown Swiss and Guernsey cows make milk that’s somewhere in between.
But here’s the big milk curveball: Federal guidelines dictate the percentage of butterfat for each milk category. Since butterfat is very valuable, large milk processors want the federal “whole”percentage to be as low as possible. What you need to know, as a shopper, is that milk can still be labeled as “whole” even if some of the fat has been removed. That doesn’t sound like “whole” milk to us.
At FIVE ACRE FARMS, we look for cows whose milk is naturally high in butterfat. We don’t adjust the fat content in our whole milk (a process called “standardization”), and we think that’s something you can taste. No wonder our whole milk—simply what comes out of the cow—is so popular. Taste the difference it makes in our yogurt, kefir and buttermilk—all made using our whole milk.
Drop us a line at [email protected] to tell us your favorite variety and where you buy our milk, and we’ll send you FIVE ACRE FARMS swag to show our thanks.
BATTENKILL VALLEY CREAMERY
Don and Seth McEachron, 4th & 5th generation farmers, are the father-son owners and operators of Battenkill Valley Creamery in Salem, New York. In 2010 and 2016, the McEachrons won Cornell’s top prize for the highest-quality, freshest, and best tasting milk in New York. Knowing that award-winning milk starts with happy, healthy cows, Don and Seth set the standard for sustainable farming and proper animal treatment. The McEachrons have been dairy farming in the Battenkill Valley region for over a century. Today, their herd numbers 350 cows of mixed breed Holsteins, Jersey, and Holstein-Jersey crossbreeds for higher butterfat content, on 1,000 acres of land.
Click to enlarge the photos below and walk through a day in the life of Don & Seth McEachron.
SAMASCOTT ORCHARDS, Kinderhook, New York, has been our valued partner since the start, supplying apples for FIVE ACRE FARMS Local Apple Cider and Local Apple Juice. The Samascott family has been farming in the Hudson Valley since the 1900’s and perfecting apples since the 1940’s. Cousins and 4th-generation farmers Jake and Bryan Samascott, alongside their siblings, grow more than 70 apple varieties, picked when they are perfectly ripe.[/vc_column_text]
Click to enlarge the photos below and walk through a day in the life of Jake Samascott.
DAN HORAN founded FIVE ACRE FARMS in 2010 to keep farmers farming and expand access to the region’s best local food. In this interview, he offers his perspective on the company’s mission, its work to bring local food into the mainstream and what it means to be Positively Local®.
How does Five Acre Farms define local food?
The way we look at it, local is about more than just distance. Local means knowing where our food comes from and what practices and processes were used along the way. It means paying farmers fairly to support their responsible farming and business practices. Local means growing the region’s economy and actively participating in the community. It means restoring the connection between farmer and consumer. We like to call this being “Positively Local®”.
What distance is considered local? Is it 50 miles—or 500?
Some people say 50 miles. Others say 500. Under the federal food safety law, local food is produced within 275 miles of where it’s sold. We think that makes sense for the Northeast, though to us, mileage is just one aspect of local. So much goes into growing, processing and distributing food that it’s more realistic to think of that effort as regional rather than going on only within the borders of your own state.
How do you select your participating farmers?
We travel around the Northeast, meeting with farmers and introducing ourselves, FIVE ACRE FARMS and how we work. Once we identify a prospective partner, we make a number of farm visits and learn about their farming practices and processes. We take our time to make sure that we have the shared vision and goals needed for a successful partnership.
Isn’t the farmers’ market the place to buy local food?
I love farmers’ markets. Having started my career as an organic farmer, I learned my first lessons in sales at farmers’ markets and always encourage people to buy directly from farmers. I also believe in keeping farmers farming by making their products more broadly available to consumers. FIVE ACRE FARMS helps farmers get into the mainstream, beginning at the supermarket—where Americans spend the most time food shopping.
Is it possible to buy local food year-round?
While it can be a challenge to buy local all year long, you should be able to get local milk and eggs throughout the year regardless of where you live. Take advantage of that to buy the freshest milk and eggs you can get your hands on. You’ll taste the difference. Other possibilities will vary by region. In the Northeast, where I live, I can buy local apples and root vegetables year-round.
How can I make sure that my neighborhood supermarket carries local food?
Hopefully, you’re noticing more and more local tags and labels in your store. If not, ask the store manager to buy local. Be sure to mention specific local items that you and your family like. Give the store leads by telling them about your favorite area farms. In my experience, grocery stores appreciate and respond quickly to this kind of input. If your store already has a local buying program, applaud its efforts, help spread the word and offer feedback.
There are so many products and claims out there. What’s your advice for making good choices when shopping local in the grocery store?
The key is to know your sources as much as possible. Start with a couple of items, and learn where they come from, who makes them and exactly how they’re handled. If you know the farmer, then you’re well on your way to being able to make a good decision. Sometimes information about the source is purposely hidden from you, and you’ll be able to tell when that’s the case. Knowing that we all lead busy lives, FIVE ACRE FARMS tries to make things simple. When you see our label, you know where your food comes from. You know that it’s local, delicious and healthy. You know that, because we vet our farms carefully, the farmers who produced it treat their animals properly, care for their farmland and groundwater and conserve energy. We do the legwork for you.
Where can I find Five Acre Farms outside the grocery store?
Our focus has always been, as we sometimes put it, bringing the farmers market to the supermarket. We’re also finding a wealth of opportunities to build on that focus by being the local solution in other places as well—like, for example, coffee shops and restaurants, including the new Kellogg’s NYC cereal café in Times Square. We even have local flying at 35,000 feet, where our products are used by UNION SQUARE EVENTS in creating in-flight menus for DELTA. We’re bringing local food into the mainstream where it should be, making it part of our everyday lives.
agriculture noun: the science, art, or occupation concerned with cultivating land, raising crops, and breeding, and raising livestock; farming.
WHAT’S IN YOUR LOCAL CIDER (and not…) THIS SEASON:
- Learn what distinguishes this year’s early apples
- Warm weather results in lighter color apples
- Sparse rainfall makes for more sweetness
The next time you reach for a jug of FIVE ACRE FARMS apple cider, look for signs of variations in the apple harvest that naturally occur from year to year.
What’s distinctive about the early fall local apple harvest in the Northeast this year? Due to the unusually dry, warm weather of late summer and early fall, many apples in our region ripened before developing the deep red skin color we’re used to seeing. The lack of water also concentrates the fruit’s natural sugars, making this year’s cider apples especially sweet. The lighter complexion can be seen in many varieties with Macintosh being the best example. Macs, the traditional New England base for cider, are green apples that rely on crisp, cool nights and adequate moisture to develop their red color just before ripening. (To make our cider, we blend a base of Macs with up to 20 other varieties.) Happily, these climate-related fluctuations don’t change the great taste of our local apples, producing a sweet, crisp cider that’s as delicious as ever. And whether they’re deep red or a subtle pastel, local apples are the only ingredients in FIVE ACRE FARMS cider, with absolutely nothing added.