As we've written for years, we've been huge fans of Alemar since its inception and use of Cedar Summit Milk. Their milk was the best in the state until they were forced to close their farm. After Cedar Summit closed, we were interested to hear where Alemar could get quality milk from. Observing as a consumer and fan of their work, it seemed they had certified organic milk, but not grass fed and then later they had organic grass fed milk again on their labels.
Last year they started switching to a new small farm out of Litchfield, just a couple dozen cows on a small farm. This milk is still grass-fed, but no longer certified organic. We were not aware of this change and are currently working with Alemar to audit the farm and provide an affidavit of the standards for that farm. Without an organic certification, we don't know for sure if any areas are less than organic standards and if so, which ones.
As we have stated time and time again, there are downsides of BigAg organic. However, the intentions of organic and the related standards have value and mean something. Without that standard in place for us, TC Farm feels we need to step up and provide a third party review of the farm, feed and other standards.
We will be reviewing the farm's standards over the spring/summer and visiting the farm. We will report back to our members what the standards are, and post the legal agreements (affidavits) for the milk just like we do for our meat.
If there are concerns with the milk used in the cheeses, we will ask that the TC Farm version of their cheese is made with milk from one of our farms.
I am disappointed that Alemar didn't let us know about this change sooner. I get that life is a little crazy right now, but we should have been told.
From what I gather, the cows are making milk that is better than what the certified organic huge feedlots churn out in the Central Valley of CA (which most of the grocery organic milk). The main issue for them being certified organic sounds like it is access to certified organic hay.
Hay isn't a crop that typically has much (if any) spraying or chemical applications. Many farms don't certify their hay even if they could because there isn't always a market for certified organic in all areas of the state. However, until we complete our audit we can't know for certain.
I do wish it was certified organic and that Alemar had been more forthright about this change. However, I also don't think at this time we can find better made cheese using local, grass-fed milk.
The video is taken in the winter, when the cows are going to mostly be indoors. I am interested to visit with the farm and learn what their growing season practices are and share what we learn.
For now, Keith and his daughter Alexandra are committed to supporting these farmers and helping small farmers provide high quality care for their animals.
If you have any concerns about the product you've received, we would like to discuss with you and, if you desire, we're more than happy to offer a full refund of any product to your TC Farm account.