How much the recent hoo-ha over milk pricing relates to organic dairy farmers is unclear. As a rule they are paid more money for their milk in order to compensate for the higher cost of organic production. If anyone wishes to submit comment on this blog post in regard to this point particularly, or any other matter, come to that, please feel free!
This is not a political blog however, and in this review/feature of Yeo Valley and their products, we are focusing on exactly what being organic means in their view, because essentially this is the story behind the success of the business and the quality of the milk and other items produced.
They say that since 1961 (for 51 years) they have been doing things the right way, and the right way for this business is being organic and ‘a little bit more’ besides. We know already what requirements have to be met and what practices have to be undertaken by organic farmers in respect of achieving the necessary soil quality, and the importance of using natural fertilizers over anything artificial, so we thought it would be interesting and informative in this instance to outline the life and the looking after of the organic cow taken from the Yeo Valley perspective –
• British Friesian, a hardy and disease-resistant breed. Calves, after birth, have the colostrum (first milk) from their mothers and go on to be fed natural cow’s milk, and, once weaned, eat a blend of organic feed. Maiden heifers calve at approx 30 months old and then give milk for about 300 days. They are rested for 60 days before calving again.
• In winter, housed in barns, the milking cows lie in individual cubicles, on mattresses, and the expectant mothers lie on straw, in comfort for their calving.
• As soon as grass starts growing in the spring, the cows and their youngsters go outside to graze. They eat clover and grass with a mix of silage, crimped wheat and other cereals. The vast majority of feed is produced from the Yeo Valley farmers own arable acres and grassland.
• Close checks are made on animal health and regular food samples are sent to the lab for analysis. Medically speaking – Cows are vaccinated against certain diseases, however, antibiotics are never routinely given, and if a cow is on medication it is removed temporarily from the milking herd until no medication is evident in her milk.
We would like to highlight three items as a representation of the natural ingredients used and to provide insight into the high standard of QA adopted, resulting in the production of what we feel are A* rated chilled goods, that are not just for breakfast! The recipes and the new packaging does communicate the ‘delicious dairy’ message. The three examples are as follows:
Really Creamy Organic Rice Pudding (2 x 150g pots) RRP £1.29 contains organic whole milk, organic balilla rice, organic sugar, organic whipping cream, organic pasteurised free range egg, and sea salt.
Summer Fruit Compote (450g) RRP £2.99 has much versatility to its uses and contains organic strawberries, water, organic raspberries, organic redcurrants, organic sugar, organic cherries, organic tapioca starch and organic concentrated lemon juice. It is rich red in colour and has nice spooning qualities. Great for summertime eating, with ice-cream and Greek style yoghurts particularly and we found a small amount spread on the two halves of a fruit scone, swirled and marbled a dollop of thick cream when added, and made a luxurious Cream Tea as substitute for the jam.
The award winning Vanilla Yoghurt with Lemon and Lime (450g) is Bio Live, as are all of Yeo Valley family of yoghurts, is fresh tasting, and great for summertime eating. It is zesty and tangy. Ingredients are: organic whole milk yoghurt, organic sugar, water, organic free range egg, organic double cream, organic maize starch, organic unsalted butter, organic lime juice, organic lemon juice, organic vanilla powder, natural flavouring, and organic lemon oil. RRP £2.00
Ethical working practices and how they ethically trade is where the very principle of being organic is upheld, but, as claimed, Yeo Valley do go that extra mile in regard to their support of projects that help with social and educational needs of the wider community. Will’s Barn, in their Blagdon, Somerset grounds, is a classroom where sustainability is taught to visiting school children. The stone building has flooring made from reclaimed wood, solar panels, and a biomass boiler, and bio fuel is used to power the company’s head office premises too.