This is one family field trip that I was really excited about. Traders Point Creamery stated selling at our local farmers market last summer, and I was really excited that we finally had more than just spotty access to the only grass fed and organic creamery in the country. Our small town had a small mom and pop grocery store that carried their milk sometimes; the grocery store said that their shipments from Traders Point Creamery were not always reliable so sometimes they had milk from them and sometimes they didn’t.
My family has been on many farms. Dr. Lazy Palate’s best friend growing up was a dairy farmer, so he is familiar with dairy farms. We knew for the most part all you were going to see on a tour was animals out in pastures which are always exciting for the kids especially Miss Bubbles who has associated cows with the sound, “mooo.” However, we were a bit disappointed with the tour. We took the self-guided tour ($2 for adults and free for children under 3) on a rainy muggy day since neither one of our kids were going to walk nicely for a guided tour after sitting the car after a long drive.
We were hoping to see more than just animals. We were hoping to see where the cheese was made and to find out a little more about their cheese making. However, there was only a little small room where you could look inside to see some of the cheese making equipment, but due to the weather the window had a lot of condensation build up so we could not see inside the cheese making room.
There are a few other cons of Traders Point Creamery as well. Traders Point Creamery milk is very expensive. For one quart of milk it costs $4.00. That makes the milk $12 a gallon. Commercial organic milk that is not grass fed here costs $6 a gallon, so that is double in price. Outside of price, another frustration that I have with Traders Point Creamery is that they buy milk from other local farmers and resell it under their label. I find it a bit frustrating that I am paying that much money for milk that is not necessarily from Traders Point Creamery. Luckily, an Amish farm has recently started selling milk at our farmers market. Their milk is 100% grass fed and uncertified organic. One gallon of milk costs $6 or $5 if you join their milk share program. This is much more economical, and I have not noticed a difference in taste between their milk and Traders Point Creamery. I have also made cheese with both milks, and I have not had trouble with either. My last source of frustration with Traders Point Creamery is that they do not offer a buyback program for their glass bottles. They sell their milk in a beautiful glass quart bottle. The bottle is very thick glass and very sturdy. Other dairies in our area charge you a deposit when you buy the milk for the glass bottle. Then when you return the bottle you get your deposit back. We have requested numerous times that Traders Point Creamery should offer a similar program, but the response back that we have heard is that they feel their customers are already environmentally minded and will recycle their glass bottles on their own. I know for a fact that not everyone is recycling their glass bottles. We live in a town where you have to pay a hefty amount of money for recycling, so we know some people are penny pitching right now and are just tossing their bottles in the garbage to save on costs.
On the upside of the tour we did get to see a mother pig nurse her babies which both kids enjoyed. We also got to see a one day old calf. It is amazing how large the calf was for one day. Delivering a human baby looks like a cake walk compared to delivering a baby calf. We also got to sample some of their maple yogurt which was good. The yogurt was sweet and creamy. We also tried some of their Fromage Blanc cheese which was fantastic. The cheese was spreadable, creamy, and rich. It is no surprise that Traders Point Creamery has fantastic cheese because they have master cheese makers like Fons Smits on staff1. Fons Smits started the creamery line for Traders Point Creamery1. Before working at Traders Point Creamery he set up dairy factories in Tanzania1. He also assisted with opening dairies in Asia and Europe1. He was also the developer of Mt. Tam, a cheese produce by Cowgirl Creamery1. It is clear that Traders Point Creamery knows how to hire excellent talent and produce excellent cheese.
The self-guided tour is a bargain if you have never been to a farm before. However, many famers will allow you to tour their farm for free. Many farmers will even give you a guided tour for free, so it might be best contact one of your local farmers to see if they are open to letting you tour their farm. Many farmers are excited to give you a tour of farm to promote healthy eating to show people exactly where their food comes from.
At this point my feeling on Traders Point Creamery is neutral. I love that they are trying to provide grass fed milk to customers. I think that more people need to drink more milk from grass fed cows because cows that are on a 100% grass fed diet contain 5 times the amount of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than feed lot cows2. Milk is the primary source for a human to get CLA since beef provides very little CLA2. Conjugated linoleic acid helps protect the heart and helps aid in weight loss2. To get CLA in milk you have to drink whole milk since CLA is a fat soluble compound; many scientists argue that the health benefits of CLA outweigh the downside of saturated fat found in whole milk2. Given these health benefits I hope that more grass fed dairies open up in the future. If Traders Point Creamery is the only option that you have for grass fed milk, then I would highly recommend them. However, if you can find a more cost effective method for getting grass fed milk, then I would go this route. Our family has made the choice to primarily buy from a competing dairy that is uncertified organic to save on costs.
1 Helwg, Richard. The Complete Guide to Making Cheese, Butter, and Yogurt at Home: Everything you Need to Know Explained Simply. Atlantic Publishing Group Inc. 2010. p83
2 Peeples, Lynne. “Is Milk from Grass-fed Cows more Heart-healthy?” Reuters. Accessed June 3, 2011. http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/05/28/us-milk-grass-fed-cows-idUSTRE64R5GY20100528