Want Milk? Buy Local.

A story in yesterday’s New York Times tells about Dr. Sam Simon, an orthopedic surgeon in Dutchess County, New York, who has been trying his hand at dairy farming since 2005. In an area where dairy farming has been on the decline (from 275 dairies in the 1970s to 26 today), it’s interesting that he would found a dairy co-op, called Hudson Valley Fresh. According to the Times, “it’s working quite well for the eight farmers who joined the co-op to bypass the usual milk processing and pricing system and begin marketing and distributing their milk on their own.”

Hudson Valley Fresh was started on the premise of a nonprofit co-op selling premium-quality milk, without artificial hormones, traveling 80 or so miles instead of 1,200, to customers in the Northeast.

The hope was that people would pay more for locally produced, higher-quality milk, and that the extra cost would be passed on directly to the farmers.

Their philosophy?

  • A not-for-profit dairy cooperative dedicated to preserving the agricultural heritage of the Hudson River Valley and promoting it as one of the premier food regions of the United States. 
  • They believe in supporting sustainable agriculture and are currently preserving 5,000 acres of open land.  
  • By ensuring a fair price for their farmers’ goods, they keep those farmers in business, which means preventing the loss of their land to development.
  • They promote only quality local food products – members include farmers from New York State’s Dutchess and Columbia Counties, selling dairy, cheese, beef, and pork.
  • Their products are locally sold throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley, Long Island, New York City, and Connecticut.

Of course, Hudson Valley Fresh is out of my local range, but I was able to find my own source, Hilhof Dairy, by searching on LocalHarvest.org.

Why not support your local farming community–and drink to your health–by buying local milk?


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