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We break down the issues and help you understand which brands are doing the right thing.

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It’s pumpkin spice latte season! Choose milk to make the jack’o lantern smile.

Product of the Week: Pumpkin Spiced Latte

A chilly wind is in the air, the leaves are falling, and you’ve just taken the sweaters out of summer hibernation. There’s only one greater indicator that Fall has finally arrived – the appearance of the Pumpkin Spiced Latte (PSL).

Time to shave the PSL moustache?

The dominant ingredient, milk, in PSLs has several social and environmental concerns: 1. Market consolidation is putting small farmers out of business and, 2. Manure build up from large farms contributes to dead zones, water pollution – which creates public health concerns, and climate change.

At $5 a latte, farmers must be filthy rich!

Dairy farmers in the USA are going out of business faster than you can drain your PSL because milk prices are so low. Nearly 30 years ago there were 300K dairy farmers in the USA, now there are around 47K. Increasingly, milk comes from mega-dairies that often have significant outside investment, which can artificially inflate the herd. Small farmers in the dairy industry rarely even cover the cost of production. This is forcing them to go out of business leaving big dairies the power to create a very concentrated market – and a big problem.

Advertisements say, milk does a body good, but no one talks about the manure!

Thanks to the high market concentration from big dairies, more cows live in a concentrated area, which subsequently concentrates environmental problems due to mass amounts of manure. On an average day, a dairy cow:

  • Eats one hundred pounds of food

  • Makes 6-7 gallons of milk

  • Produces 65 pounds of manure

Manure can be good fertilizer if managed well, but sadly, that is not always the case. The poor manure management mixed with rain and water runoff contributes to poop filled lakes and rivers that kill off wildlife creating dead zones. And if that isn’t bad enough, the manure enters public and private drinking water and causes serious public health issues. Just ask Wisconsin – people have had cow poop come out of their sink tap!

Is poop the whole scoop?

Nope! Cow management and milk production contribute to climate change. Remember, cows eat 100 pounds of food a day. To grow enough food to feed the herds, farmers in the USA are converting grasslands and wetlands across the USA. We are losing our national heritage of prairies under our nose without knowing it. Additionally, cows belch more than unruly teenagers – and that releases loads of CO2 into the atmosphere. In fact, ~18 pounds of CO2 emission accompanies each gallon of milk.

Please do not tell me PSLs are a thing of the past!

Certainly not, but be sure to note the things YOU can do. Purchase sustainable milk products and tell your local coffee shops to do the same. These milk brands are from farmers who make a decent living while taking care of their animals and the land. Here is the simple milk guide:

😃 Green Brands : Organic Valley, Clover Stornetta

😡 Red Brands: Dean’s, Kemps, Borden, Fairlife, and regular old store brands

We are not making this stuff up! Read more:

  • https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/50901500/presentations/2011/Chase%20Friday.pdf

  • http://e360.yale.edu/feature/as_dairy_farms_grow_bigger_new_concerns_about_pollution/2768/

  • http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/04/business/energy-environment/how-growth-in-dairy-is-affecting-the-environment.html

  • https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/aug/07/milk-environmental-impact

  • http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/the-dairy-industry-and-the-environment/

  • http://www.weny.com/news/All/dairy-farmers-facing-milk-pricing-issues-08112016

  • https://organic-center.org/reportfiles/COFEFFinal_Nov_2.pdf

  • http://wisconsinwatch.org/2016/05/bacteria-in-states-drinking-water-is-public-health-crisis/

  • http://www.npr.org/sections/the two-way/2009/09/cattlemanure_runoff_making_rur.html

  • http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/local/kewaunee-county/2015/07/24/megafarms-groundwater-contamination-draw-epa-national-groups-kewaunee-county/30629565/

  • http://archive.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/green-bay-dead-zone-shorter-this-year-but-still-causing-concerns-b99609448z1-341291791.html

  • http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/430528/err47b_1_.pdf

  • http://wisconsinwatch.org/2015/11/nitrate-in-water-widespread-current-rules-no-match-for-it/

  • http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/insight/factory-farm-nation-2015-edition

  • http://www.factoryfarmmap.org/problems/

  • https://thinkprogress.org/a-controversial-epa-rule-is-pitting-small-farmers-against-big-agribusiness-650061605b8b#.13jhriuku

  • http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/the-dairy-industry-and-the-environment/

  • http://blog.ucsusa.org/andrea-basche/why-the-loss-of-grasslands-is-a-troubling-trend-for-agriculture-in-11-maps-and-graphs