Back in April I noted the opening of Spokane's Family Farm, a local independent Dairy. In the midst of the worst dairy market in recent history they are still plugging away, carving out a market niche in Spokane area grocery stores and beyond.
There's an interesting transcript of a radio show over at Our Northwest Economy that offers an update after 7 months of operation. Here are some highlights from the conversation with Trish and Mike Vieira, formerly part of the Darigold cooperative of dairy farmers.
While they want to make a living, the Vieiras are more concerned with the integrity and health of their product. One of the reasons they became independent is because they couldn’t stand the idea of their milk being pooled with milk from farmers who weren’t as clean:
Trish Vieira: It’s really hard when you do a really good job and you work really hard at it to see it just get dumped with the rest of it so that’s one of the reasons. [and] The other reason is the processing and what happens to the milk before it gets back to the consumer – it changes the milk components so much that it’s no longer healthy, nor is it hardly any longer milk.
I was most intrigued by their comments on the cleanliness of the cows and the relationship of cleanliness to bacteria in the milk:
Hawkins: Much of today’s milk has a very long shelf life because it is so sterile. It’s a commodity that is shipped over long distances and can last for months. Dairies don’t have to be as fastidious as the Vieras’ because their milk is highly processed anyway.
Viera: You get good shelf life for two reasons: low bacteria and refrigeration. You also get quality with low bacteria. So if you got a lot of bacteria you GOTTA boil the heck out of it to make sure it sticks. You watch your bacteria counts then you have quality and you have long shelf life. Ours is three weeks, and that is an excellent shelf life – I mean our raw milk would last that long. Our raw milk is very clean.
I also found it interesting that they have no plans to be organic certified because they want to be able to use antibiotics on the rare occasions when one of their cows is very sick and needing the help. For them it's about caring for the animals. It's important to note that this doesn't mean antibiotics end up in the milk.
So if you live in the Spokane area and want local, clean, fresh milk Spokane's Family Farm is the sure fire bet. Since Darigold bought out Inland Northwest Dairies last year the supply lines of Spokane milk aren't quite as clear as when I reported on it in 2008.
Here's the scoop on where to get the milk from their website:
All the local Spokane Yoke's Fresh Markets and all the local Rosauers and Huckleberrys carry our milk. Some carry it in the conventional dairy case and some in the natural living sections.
Milk is always available at the farm for $3.50 per gallon and 3 gallons for $10.00. We are booking farm tours daily for milking at 5:00 pm and bottling at 11:00 am all tours end with a tasting of Spokane's Family Farm milk and home made cookies, or ice cream made fresh with Spokane's Family Farm Milk. Milk and cookies tours are $1.00 per person and ice cream tours are $3.00 per person.