The last two posts were about coffee. This post is about what goes in the coffee. Well, half of it is. The other half is about cheese. Anyway, I need your input. I confess I haven’t been using my soy milk maker as regularly as I’d planned, opting for cow’s milk in my coffee. (The soy milk maker is a pain to clean, plus I keep forgetting to soak the beans at night.) My question is which cow’s milk is better? The Clover cow or the Straus cow?
Now, before you weigh in, I need to give you all the facts that I am aware of:
Straus Family Creamery is a local certified organic dairy farm in Marin County (not far from me) whose cows are grass-fed and gmo-free. You can read about their healthy farm practices here and their position on GMOs here. Packaging: Straus milk comes in heavy glass bottles that are returned to the store and reused (rather than recycled.) The drawback: a fat non-recyclable plastic cap on each bottle.
Clover Stornetta is a much bigger company, also located in Northern California, that produces both conventional and certified organic milk. According to their web site, they support family farms and are Free Farmed certified by the American Humane Association. (Anyone have info on that certification?) They say nothing about GMOs, and it looks like the cows are fed grains along with grass. (Grains being poor food for cows, according to Michael Pollan.)
Packaging: This is where the company show its responsiveness to customers. Click on the image to read the full letter from Clover (PDF file). Their milk used to come in paperboard gable-top cartons with a plastic cap and spout, just like soy milk does. And if you’ve been reading this blog a long time, you know that I wrote letters to both Wildwood and Silk soy milk companies asking them to give up the plastic fitments. We don’t need them. Well, others, including members of Green Sangha, wrote to Clover about that issue, and Clover listened! They have done away with the plastic spout and cap in response to requests from environmentally-concerned consumers. And I feel like I want to support them just for taking this step.
The paperboard container, of course, is coated with polyethylene, as are all cardboard milk cartons these days. The coating is not wax, folks. But here in Oakland, we can put these cartons in our green compost bins anyway. In fact, many people use cardboard milk cartons on the kitchen countertop to collect food scraps destined for the bin, and toss them all in together.
So what do you think? Is it a tie? Does one company appeal to you more than the other? If so, why? And which packaging (both containing plastic) do you think is more sustainable?
Next up: battle of the cheeses. Last week, I had a craving for cheese. I went to Trader Joe’s and was all set to give in and buy plastic-wrapped cheese, when low and behold, I spotted white cheddar cheese coated in wax without any plastic wrap around the outside! I have never seen this before in my area. Sure, we have plenty of waxed cheeses. But they are all covered with a layer of plastic, which has always seemed like overkill to me. You’re not going to eat the wax. Why put plastic wrap over it?
The cheese: Kerrygold Aged Cheddar. Notice on the web site, it looks like it’s wrapped in plastic. But this block is not. A new way of packaging? A deal with Trader Joe’s? I don’t know. But here’s the drawback: It’s from Ireland. Now, I have nothing against Ireland. Some of my best friends are Irish. But Dude, think of the fuel miles! Plus, it’s not even organic. But I’ve been looking for plastic-free cheese for so long, I couldn’t resist. I bought two blocks. It’s delicious. I plan to save the wax and melt it down into one black candle for casting spells against the evil-doers. Or just to entertain the kitties. Supervised, of course.
My local alternative is Springhill white cheddar from a Northern California farm one county away. It’s sold in stores around here and also at my farmer’s market every Sunday. But this cheese is always wrapped in thick plastic shrink wrap. And the blocks are small, so there’s a lot of plastic being used. Supposedly food wrap is no longer made from PVC, but who really knows what could leach into the cheese from the plastic?
So which do you think is better? The local plastic-wrapped cheese? Or the imported wax-coated but plastic-free cheese? And please don’t tell me to make my own mozzarella. I’ll probably do that someday. But this post is about cheddar. So let’s stick to the topic. Discuss!