learning from the best.
50 hours in pure heaven. For the weekend I got the beautiful luxury of going to Brosna, humbly located in County Kerry, Ireland.. I’m sure you know the place… the place where that butter wrapped in a golden ticket comes from, YES its still allll from Ireland… that’s Kerrygold Over the spread of the trip my great friend introduced me to her clan of close-knit family & friends. The opening liner always began “this is Keeley, she’s got family in Mayo. Yes, Yes, she grew up on a farm too. She knows how to work”
At first, people didn’t pick up that I am indeed American (the fair skin which lends to be slightly red, blue eyes & a dark full head of hair gave it away, plus… Kerry felt exceptionally comfy) The people are incredible. Making me feel like kin that spent my young years bopping from bog to bog finding faeries. UGH take me back.
Enough with the romantic floral reflections! I said before that the people were fantastic, I’m sure you can infer that tons of drink had been consumed in the form of Guinness, cider, baileys, etc etc… Conversation got going and my curiosity in farming Ireland got the best of me. The last time I visited, in Mayo, all I remember was rolling field upon rolling field of sheep grazing. Due to the Kerrygold Co-op county Kerry traditionally is dairy cows. During the months of winter the cows stay in the barns munching on silage, fermented hay. Snow is common in Ireland however not in the same way we get it in the northeast. We are in the trenches of winter and yet there is green everywhere and vibrant green to boot. I asked a bounty of dairy farmers, why they don’t continue grazing their cows during winter, there seems to be plenty of grass to go around. The long blades look lush and full of nutrients. They all replied simply, the cows stay in the barns to preserve the grasses as well as their energy to stay warm & cozy. Farmers would rather have the longevity of the fields and keep building rich, healthy soil than put the cows on pasture 365.
How does this correlate to the US Dairy industry? Conventional ag keeps their bovines inside not to preserve the land, but to grow grains/ corn to fatten their masses, a presumably more cost effective way to make ends meet? But this harms the land and does not provide the correct sustenance for the animal. So what to do? It turns out that the dairy industry in the US isn’t as regulated as you thought, “Grassfed” can mean something wildly different. The Food and Drug Administration oversees the labeling of all things food, including dairy products. Surprise surprise, currently there is not much of a standard for labeling. A “Grassfed” animal can actually be fed grain and supplemented with some grass/ hay.
Back to.. what to do? buying Kerrygold is an answer, but what about local. Obviously supporting your local farmers & hitting up the farmers market is my #1 answer, but here are a few things to look for to ensure you are getting the best of the best dairy products when strollin down the isles at your local grocery store!
these are those labels & these are their stories:
Diet — Animals are fed only grass and forage from weaning until harvest.
Confinement — Animals are raised on pasture without confinement to feedlots.
Antibiotics and hormones — Animals are never treated with antibiotics or growth hormones.
Origin — All animals are born and raised on American family farms.
PCO Certified 100% Grassfed –
This certification is in addition to USDA certified organic standards. An extra special standards that pertain to ruminants, giving them the space they need to roam, ensuring that they are grass-fed and have space to root and roam as they please. Read more here:https://www.paorganic.org/grassfed
Certified Grassfed by AGW
AGW is in an additional certification to the Animal Welfare Approved cert. This one is super special because it safely ensures 100% that the animals were fed nothing other than Grassfed, raised on PASTURE, nottt a feedlot! Read more here:https://agreenerworld.org/certifications/certified-grass-fed/