This week I had the pleasure of visiting my first dairy farm! And not just any dairy farm but an organic one! Organic Valley “…their philosophy and decisions are based on the health and welfare of people, animals and the earth. They are a mission-driven cooperative, owned by family farmers, and we’ve been leaders in organic agriculture from the very beginning.”
Over this last year I’ve been trying to make a better effort when it comes to what I eat and exercising regularly. unfortunately I’ve been slacking on both of those and I can definitely feel it in the way I feel and by how I look. Thanks to Leah of Mamvation I was given the opportunity to go behind the scenes and see what the day in the life of an organic dairy farmer is all about. Leah is a big supporter of healthy living practices to combat disease.
Organic Valley Family of Farms is the largest organic farmer-owned cooperative in North America. Being a cooperative means that the farm families that produce Organic Valley’s organic dairy products, juice, eggs, meat, soy, and produce are the direct owners of the business.
Many of us know about the dangers of eating processed foods all the time, but aren’t quite as knowledgeable when it comes to GMOs. GMO refers to plants and animals that have been genetically modified. When you think about it, who in the heck wants to eat a science project!
The Lays Family was very open and welcoming. We were there for over 3 hours and Butch was very humble and you could tell he was passionate about what he was doing and his wife and children were just as hospitable.
Butch and Lisa Lay bought their farm (Muddy Waters Farm) back in 1994. They currently have over 180 acres and 160 are certified organic and just celebrated their one year anniversary of being an organic farm. Prior to being an organic dairy farm they were conventional. Farmers are placed on a 3 year probation period where they are not allowed to use any chemicals and the cows are only fed grass during that last year. During this period while they were practicing using only organic methods they were only allowed to ship conventionally.
It’s amazing how commercial something as simple as feeding our nation has become. Everyone wants to make the cheapest product the quickest, but they don’t want to keep it natural and healthy. Butch mentioned that he had some reservations in the beginning. “A lot of conventional farmers worry about cow health when they go organic. What if they can’t use antibiotics anymore? I had talked to enough organic farmers who advised us to get the soils healthy first and the cow health will follow from that. They were right. We’ve had very few problems with cow health since we transitioned. I’ve learned to be more proactive with herd management. Personally, this way of farming is more fun for me. Organic has given us the freedom to relax the pressure on the cows and not worry about pushing them to give this or that amount of milk, and that relaxes the pressure on us humans, too.”
So much of what Butch had to say resonates with how we treat our bodies as well. If you are eat right and exercise your own health will benefit as well. And then maybe you won’t need all those medications. It seems so simple but so hard for many of us. A study published last December found that found organic milk has a better omega-6/omega-3 fat profile than non-organic. It’s one of the first large published studies of its kind and was conducted entirely on Organic Valley farms.
PLOS ONE Publishes Largest, Most Comprehensive U.S. Study
Of Milk’s Essential Fatty Acid Composition
Study Findings Prove Cows Raised on Pasture Increases Levels of Beneficial Fats
The study is the first large-scale, nationwide comparison of organic and conventional milk,
testing samples of organic and conventional milk in 14 dairy plants in seven regions. When
it comes to omega-6 to omega-3 ratios, low numbers are the most beneficial. Conventional milk
had an average omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio of 5.8, more than twice that of organic
milk’s ratio of 2.3.
“Organic Valley is proving what our farm families have known for a long time,” said George
Siemon, a founding farmer and CEIEIO of Organic Valley. “Not only is high-quality pasture and
forage better for cows, it produces nutritionally superior whole milk. It’s been said the organic
industry has been lacking in science. Today, it’s getting harder and harder to argue that.”
The consumption of more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids is a well-known risk
factor for a variety of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, excessive
inflammation and autoimmune diseases. The higher the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, the greater
the associated health risk.
While my family is not 100% organic when it comes to what we eat and drink, my recent tour of the farm has given me a much better view of why the cost is more and how in the long run my health will benefit even greater!
Just before this picture was taken of me and this “sweet” calf, she decided to take a little nibble at my butt! I gave up trying to take a selfie too because she kept trying to lick the mess out of me. LOL By my LARGE smile you can tell I’m laughing pretty darn hard!
Of course I had to show some love to the other cows and tried for another photo opp with them. I didn’t realize until I saw this picture how all of them were looking right at me. I wonder if they were trying to get in a little nibble too! Now I would have run from them because those heifers have ALL of their teeth and I wanted to leave with all of the parts I came with…hahaha!
This was such a great experience and I look forward to taking my girls on a tour one day too! What types of changes have you made in your life to become healthier and are they making a difference in your life? Please share!
Dani @ OKDani.com says
Once I read about the dangers of GMOs I got so scared and started buying more organic products despite the cost. I am no where near as educated on this as I need to be. Thanks for sharing your experience at the farm. Seems like you had a really great time and I’m sure your kids would love to visit and tour as well.
Coily Locks says
After visiting the farm the cost makes so much more sense. I always used to just think it was the “hipsters” trying to make an extra buck off of us but it’s so much more than that. I just really wish more food companies would realize how important it is to not make such crappy food and making sure those less fortunate are as educated since it will make our overall health so much better. But I guess there’s more money to be made from people needing prescriptions to combat all the issues that come from a poor diet. SMH
What a fun farm tour! I hope Tennessee soon has more Organic Valley family farms providing non-GMO foods for us! Love your photos!
Coily Locks says
Anne it was such an amazing tour and hope to take my daughters one day as well. It’s a bit of a struggle trying to change over but it’s def going to be worth it to our health in the long run.
Mimi Green says
This was a really good read. I felt the same way you did about Organic food. This was a much needed lesson for sure.
Nori was just asking if she could milk a cow.
You all should go and visit a farm one day! Heck half of them have the machines to milk the cow so Nori might not even get a chance to do it…LOL