Cheese Whisperer Profiles: Cooperative Cheese
October is National Co-op Month. A cooperative is a farm, business, or other organization that is owned and run jointly by its members. As a long-running cooperative grocery store, Skagit Valley Food Co-op supports many other cooperative businesses, including Organic Valley. It’s part of the nation’s largest farmer-owned organic dairy cooperative, CROPP.
Organic Valley Then and Now
It all began in the 1988, when a group of seven Wisconsin farmers came together to form an organic dairy farming cooperative, known as CROPP. Organic Valley’s founding farmers pledged to produce the best products possible by farming without antibiotics, synthetic hormones, pesticides or GMOs; by pasturing their animals, and by being stewards of the environment.
Today the CROPP network is over 2,000 farm families strong, and produces 40% of the organic milk sold in America. Despite their vast market share, the average size of each dairy farm herd is 71. The mission of CROPP is to operate a cooperative that promotes farm diversity and economic stability through organic agriculture and products. Organic Valley farmer/owners enjoy high dairy pay prices, and world-class veterinary and agronomy tools, designed for sustainability. Learn about your local food chain and find out about organic family farms near you with their Find Your Farmer search tool.
The CROPP business model believes that transparency and accountability build trust. They encourage staff and member partnerships within a highly participatory democracy. There are a total of 22 committees with farmer participation, with the total number of committee slots at over 200. As many as 128 farmers participate in governance committees each year.
The Line-up: Organic Valley Cheeses
The Co-op stocks a variety of dairy products from Organic Valley, including: Mild and Sharp Raw Milk Cheddar, Cream Cheese, Pepper Jack, Mozzarella, Feta, Ricotta, Parmesan, Provolone, Stringles (part skim mozzarella string cheese), sliced American Singles (an organic, un-processed Kraft-style cheese) and shredded cheese blends.
Organic certification requires farmers and suppliers to meet more requirements than big agribusiness does. Extra work and attention can mean additional cost at retail. Pasture-based and organic agriculture also uses fewer petroleum inputs, lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
Plus, Organic Valley cheeses are down right tasty. Try some today – on sandwiches, pasta, salads and more!