Where is my milk from?

I recently discovered http://whereismymilkfrom.com/ and spent some time recently scouring local grocery stores answering that question. The site is really nifty – you put in the code (in the form XX-XXX) from the carton of milk, cream, yogurt, or even soy milk, and it will tell you the dairy or plant that produced it.

If you’re looking for locally or regionally-produced foods, the news is quite good. Most of the milk I found was from Michigan or an adjacent state. Organic milk tends to come from further away (Minnesota or Colorado). I don’t think any of the cow’s milk I found in Meijer or Whole Foods came from any further away, though there was some goat’s milk from California. None was from another country.

On a very interesting note, two organic milks at Whole Foods (365 Brand Organic and Organic Valley) were from the exact same dairy…but the price difference was $1 per gallon. The 365 Brand non-organic milk and the Country Dairy non-organic milk were also from the same dairy in New Era, Michigan, but I don’t recall if there was a significant price difference. Certainly worth checking!

After the cut is the list of brands and dairies as of Oct. 24, 2010. I bet this changes frequently, especially with store brands, so you might want to re-check periodically. An easy guideline is that Michigan’s state code is 26, so if you want milk from Michigan, look for codes in the form 26-XXX.  (See the full list of dairies and codes here.)

After the jump, I’ll list a few brands and their origins from Meijer and Whole Foods.

Meijer

  • Meijer store brand: Central lower Michigan
  • Horizon Organic: Eastern Wisconsin
  • Gurnsey Farms: SE lower Michigan

Whole Foods

  • 365 non-organic (Whole Foods store brand): West Michigan
  • Country Dairy: West Michigan (exact same dairy as 365 non-organic)
  • 365 organic: Central Minnesota
  • Organic Valley: Central Minnesota (same dairy as 365 organic)
  • Calder Dairy: SE Michigan
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6 Comments

  1. October 24, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Interesting — thanks for sharing!

  2. Kate said,

    October 25, 2010 at 6:30 am

    Very cool!

  3. Alexia said,

    October 27, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I took a look at this site, put in the code from my bottle of Organic Valley milk ( purchased in WI from Whole Foods), and then googled the name of the dairy that came up (in E. MN). From what I can tell, at least in this case the dairy is a bottling plant — they do produce milk under their own label, but they also obviously bottle the OV milk (and perhaps others as well — I didn’t have any other codes to put in).

    The fact that it comes from the same bottling facility is NOT the same as coming from the same producer. At least in the Midwest, OV buys from many smaller producers and pools their milk. My understanding is that, as a cooperative, they also do their bit to ensure that their producers get a better price for their milk when they wholesale it.

    Desiring to save the $1 is understandable, but keep in mind that it’s likely that the store is making the same profit and the producers are getting less money. There are several groceries in my area that sell locally produced dairy, bakery, produce, and value-added products that I can also buy at the Farmer’s Market directly and in many cases they do so for about the same price as I get it from the producer. I have asked these people what the store pays them, and in each case it has been substantially less $ than they get if I buy directly from them.

    • Emily said,

      October 28, 2010 at 1:27 pm

      Very good points about the differences between bottlers (“dairies”) and producers. For my own estimates of distance, knowing the dairy is useful information, because even if they are pooling from several farms, those farms won’t be all that far from the dairy.

      Does anyone know where to find info on how much the farmers are actually making? I know it’s an abysmally low number, but better for organic than standard milk.

  4. EdgeWiseInAnnArbor said,

    October 27, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Not that this is the goal, but do you happen to know if the Organic labeling from other countries are actually reliable? I’m always disconcerted to see USDA organic labels on Chilean produce. Do USDA inspectors actually fly there or something? I never really found an answer on my brief google.


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