Organic Dairy Co-Op Looks to Expand Appeal
AUGUSTA – Struggling to carve a niche into the organic dairy market, Maine’s Own Organic Milk, LLC yesterday announced that it would sell its milk with little vials of hormones and pesticides attached to the side of the carton.
“This will allow us to retain our organic certification, while still providing the mainstream customer with what they apparently want,” stated MooMilk manager Bill Eldridge.
He said the company’s current “small but loyal” customer base can throw away the vials, while new customers who prefer their dairy products laced with carcinogenic or endocrine-disrupting chemicals can simply dump the contents into their milk before consuming it.
“It’s a win-win for the consumer,” Eldridge said.
Shoppers interviewed at a local Hannaford supermarket today were not convinced the move would increase MOOMilk’s brand appeal.
“I don’t buy anything organic,” said Joyce Parmalou of Winthrop. “I’m not one of these paranoid granola hippies. The government has regulations for this stuff. I can’t imagine they would never allow anything hazardous into our food supply.”
For others, cost remains the primary consideration.
“I just buy whatever’s cheapest,” said Dale Clarkson of Manchester. “I don’t care if it’s got pieces of dead baby in it. I’m on a budget, man.”
Eldridge acknowledged that MOOMilk would probably remain more expensive than mainstream brands, but touted the flexibility of providing chemicals like permethrin and somatropin outside the carton, rather than mixed in with the actual milk.
“If you want your chemicals on some other food, now you have that option,” he explained. “Say you buy an organic chicken. Go ahead and sprinkle a few drops of that coumaphos solution on it so you don’t have to tell your guests it came from Whole Foods.”
Officials at Oakhurst Diary and Garelick Farms declined to be interviewed for this story. Neither company’s website offers information on pesticide use, but both say their farmers “pledge” to not use artificial growth hormones.
“Bill Clinton ‘pledged’ to be faithful to his wife, too,” says Thurman Lawson, an organic dairy farmer from Brooks. “I called up MPBN during their telethon one time and pledged $4.7 million dollars and 300 jars of frog intestines. A pledge doesn’t carry a lot of weight compared to three years of work to get certified organic.”