Where to Buy Milk & Dairy

Parent Q&A

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  • Raw milk?

    (1 reply)

    My pandemic pastimes are now taking me into making cultured butter and soft cheese. I notice that raw milk seems available in a few grocery stores (at least it says so online), but farms only sell it to you if you own a "herdshare". What is the logic here? Interested to hear your experiences.

    I looked into this a few years ago and I think the herdshare is purely a legal thing. There are a lot of regulations around selling raw milk products in California and the only way to make it feasible for a small farm is to offer a herdshare. I also have to say that a friend of mine gets raw jersey milk from a herdshare in Marin county — and the milk is a million times better than the raw milk from the store (don't ask me why! But my kids would guzzle it down like it was chocolate milk).

  • Hi everyone 

    We're finally transitioning our 20 months old daughter from formula to drinking cow milk. I've tried researching what's the best organic cow milk out there - without hormones and as "clean" and natural (but pasteurized) as possible but can't really find highly rated, great ratings milk - prefer locally produced brands- (price isn't an issue). Thanks in advance for your recommendations   

    Strauss and Clover are local, and I'm pretty sure Berkeley Farms, Safeway and Lucky are also sourced from local farms.


    My two year old drinks Clover organic and Straus. I switch between the two occasionally. They are both from California and operates with sustainability initiatives. Also Straus was the first non-GMO-verified dairy in North America. Personally I like Straus cream top, it tastes great!

    Hi M.A.

    We love Stauss. For a couple of reasons, it's great tasting (non-homogenized so the cream rises to the top; YUM!), all organic, no hormones. It also comes in glass bottles so no worries on BPA and the glass is reusable. You pay a $2 deposit and get it back when you return the bottle. Most places just give you credit when you return them (deduct $2 from your total bill) but whole foods will give you cash at the costumer service desk.


    We drink Straus.  We went camping at Samuel Taylor and did a day trip out to the nearby beach and while driving around, happened upon the Straus Farm.  Our friend, who is a big animal vet casually mentioned that she never has seen dairy cows actually grazing and calves feeding on their mama's so beautifully, naturally and peacefully before.  It really was so beautiful to see such healthy cows amongst the hills and fields of healthy grass everywhere.  Please if you use farmsteadapp.com, then they deliver milk to you in a glass bottle and take it back with your next delivery and reuse the bottle.  Just like the old days...

    Strauss cream top IS delicious! But one thing to consider is that their milk isn't vitamin D fortified. (I presume that you probably have the wherewithal to get that vitamin D from other sources, though.)

    Straus milk, hands down. They're in Marin and have been producing organic milk for decades, plus most of the bottles (other than gallon size) are glass which you return for re-use. I'd also consider Alexandre A2 whole milk (not local). I am just learning about this but supposedly it is easier to digest.

    It's expensive, but I think Saint Benoit is the best quality local milk. It comes in glass bottles, is organic, pasteurized but at a lower temperature, and hormone-free. Also, they use Jersey cows, which supposedly make the best milk. Jersey cows don't produce a high yield so dairy farms don't use them. When I switched my first to whole milk I went with Saint Benoit and continued with it for about year. The reason I switched was because I started having issues with the milk going bad before the expiration date, and when I wrote to the company they never responded. We now use Strauss, which isn't as high a quality as Saint Benoit, but is still high quality and never goes bad before the expiration date. Also, with having two kids I just couldn't keep up with returning the bottles and Stauss now has plastic jugs. For myself, I prefer the taste of Clover Organic to both Strauss and Saint Benoit, but my kids don't seem to have a preference.


    We like Whole Foods 365 organic milk. It’s rated a 4, like Strauss and Clover, but is $1 cheaper. 


    I haven't done any book research, but everyone in my family -- including my 19 month old son --  really likes Clover organic whole milk and Horizon organic whole milk.  Clover might be better from an environmental standpoint because it is local, but they both taste delicious! 

    You may want to consider St. Benoit. I don't know much about it, but Jersey cow milk apparently has health advantages and the milk is non-homogenized. It does go bad more quickly, is the disadvantage. We're not milk drinkers, but get their yogurt sometimes, which is amazing.


    I buy what's cheapest, haven't found a bad one yet.  Organic milk always tastes better.  By definition, no hormones, better quality feed, etc.  Opt for grass-fed if it's available, but otherwise don't worry about it.

    BTW, you'll find that lots of non-organic milk products advertise that they don't use hormones, either.

    What probably has the biggest effect on milk quality is the container: gable-top cartons, plastic bottles, or milk.  They all have pros and cons.  The issues are summarized here:


    My favorite is Strauss. It comes in glass bottles which are returned for a refund. I get it delivered to my house through Farm Fresh to You. 

  • Hi!

    I got a cheese making kit and it calls for unpasteurized milk. I found raw milk at Sprouts, but it was $16/gallon. Any other less expensive ideas?

    Only slightly less, but still: Organic Pastures sells their raw milk directly at the Lake Merritt (and other local) farmers market(s) on Saturdays. $14/gallon. Check their website. Great tasting milk that we've been drinking for years! There is also Claravale sold in stores (I know Farmer Joe's sells it), but I'm not sure that it is any cheaper.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Organic Milk vs. TJ's regular milk?

Jan 2009

I'm having a debate w/ my husband about which is better. ORganic milk is about twice the price of Trader Joe's regular milk. The regular milk claims to not use growth hormones either, so what is the benefit of buying organic milk - of course, the socially responsible choice - but are there other health benefits to organic milk? confused

BUY ORGANIC MILK PRODUCTS! Dairy is one of the MOST important things to buy organic because pesticides settle in the fat of animals who eat non-organic feed. That fat is expressed in the milk of cows... but all organic dairy products if you buy anything organic! Also important are strawberries, celery, potatoes and apples. http://www.parents.com/recipes/nutrition/kids/what-to-buy-organic/?page=1 Organic is BEST!

I have had alot of trouble lately buying good milk. While many brands all boast that they do not use the harmone BHT (or whatever it is)on their cows, the milk has the distinct taste of chemicals/drugs. I have found this at several stores after buying multiple gallons from each store. I can't say what is so special about ''organic'' milk, but can advise you that all ''regular'' milk is not the same judging by the taste. I return all milk that tastes of chemicals. My family members concur with the chemical taste as well. The Lucky store near us sells regular milk that tastes like regular milk with no chemicals. I suspect all the milk brands put the ''our cows are not treated with BHT'' labels on the bottles to keep sales up but what goes in the jug is a different story and nobody but us notices and nobody is checking. Maybe ''organic'' is a safer bet. I tried Trader Joe's regular milk and it seemed fine to me. Safeway has the tainted milk as well as other area markets. concerned milk drinker

Check out this website: http://www.cornucopia.org/dairysurvey/index.html. Lots of information on organic milk. There's more to it than just whether it is organic or not - and I think this report actually rates Clover regular milk as more ethical than TJs (from memory). I don't buy TJ's milk at all any more. anon

Yes, there is a huge difference between organic and non organic milk. You can look at it from 2 sides: what's not in organic milk (pesticides, herbicides etc.) but also, what organic milk has that convential milk does not and this includes increased levels of nutrients, omega 3 fatty acids and other good stuff, see this link: http://www.netnutritionist.com/qa21_organic_milk_benefits.htm Actually Buy Goat Milk

Organic milk has more nutrients than conventional. Here?s a quick link I found: http://www.organicfacts.net/organic-animal-products/organic-milk/health-benefits-of-organic-milk.html Cows that produce non-organic milk can be fed just about anything including melamine tainted feed, GMO feed, antibiotics, etc. Non-organic cows also don?t need to be treated as well, for example they aren?t required to have access to open pasture. But chances are good that the conventional milk at Trader Joe?s is probably from a decent dairy such as Clover or Berkeley Farms. Let?s hope, because I?ve had to switch over myself recently to save money. anon

Freshest organic farm eggs

March 2008

I'm looking for a good recommendation for super fresh farm eggs. Do you buy them from a store? From one of the farmer's markets? Let me know! Cost is not a big deal. dreaming of bright yellow yolks

I get my eggs at the Saturday Farmers Market in Berkeley. Both Riverdog Farm and Kaki Farm have fresh eggs from pastured chickens. Riverdog's eggs are organic but Kaki are not certified. Both are delicious and very fresh. Kelly

I am sorry that I don't have an answer to your question, just a comment. Good eggs have orange yolks, not yellow. pete

As a bedtime story, I tell my little girl about visiting my grandmother on her farm, and her making me an egg fresh from the hen house every morning... Since I prefer not to live in Iowa, I try to buy eggs from Petaluma. If you visit the SF Ferry Market on Saturday morning, there are several sellers who will explain to you their many varieties of farm fresh eggs. When I can't make it to the Ferry market, I buy Judy's which are sold at Whole Foods, and probably other ''organic'' grocery stores. There also was an article in the SF Chronicle Food section maybe 6 months ago about where to buy farm fresh eggs. still love fresh eggs

In my opinion the very best in the bay area are from 3 stone hearth. You can order online www.threestonehearth.com and pick up in Berkeley near Aquatic Park. There food is wonderful and ''truly'' organic. The yolks of their eggs are the yellowest that I have seen and they are quite tasty. If I can't make it there for any reason, my second favorite is Mr. Davis (he's an older gentleman that also sells pecans, brittle, potatoes and pies) at the Tuesday Berkeley Farmer's Market on Derby and MLK. Enjoy! Egg snob in Berkeley

Just a comment about color of yolks: it depends on the variety of chicken and what they eat. For example, some farmers feed their chickens marigolds to make the yolks darker yellow/orange.

Milk in glass bottles vs. cartons or plastic

Sept 2006

I have started buying milk in glass bottles (Straus Organic). It is more expensive ($4 per half gallon at El Cerrito Natural Grocery Company) not to mention harder to carry on my bike, but I'm thinking it might be better for us and the environment. Does anyone have an informed opinion about this? I would love to be able to buy our plain yogurt in glass since those containers, unlike the plastic milk bottles, are not recyclable Thank you.

Are you sure it's that much more expensive to buy Straus? When you consider that you get a return deposit of $1.25/empty bottle the total is pretty close to par with the Horizon or whatever else... except not having the milk be homogenized is better for your health. I can't speak to the bicycle issue. Obviously glass will be more heavy than cartons, so that's a trade-off entirely up to you and your energy level. In any case, El Cerrito Natural should take the returns and give you the $1.25 deposit back. Piedmont Grocery, where I buy, does -Another Straus Drinker

First off, Straus milk is sooooo good. You can return the empty bottles and get a bottle refund - I am sure you know that. But the main reason I buy it is because of the glass bottle. When you bleach paper (as in the cardboard used to make other milk containers), it creates dangerous toxins like Dioxins which can leech into the milk (I am talking small amounts but still... if you can avoid it, why not?). So buying glass is better for the environment and better for you. Straus is also an awesome company. I have emailed them a few times regarding the Perchlorate in milk products and they responded promptly and honestly about how they manage and check for that in their milk. It is a family run business with an honest vision and an earnest commitment to the community and environment green mama

Reusing is always better than recycling, so good for you! Glass bottles are best for the environment, and biking to shop is even better. I've been told by Waste Management, who does pick up for much of West Contra Costa County, that if you have to pick between cartons and plastic, plastic is easier to recycle. But there is also some concern with both of those containers that toxic substances leech into the milk. As for yogurt, you can make your own very easily. A quart of milk, a tablespoon of yogurt for starter, and you are on your way. I'm sure you can find good advise online.

Organic Goat Milk

April 2004

We'd like to feed our year-old twins organic goat milk when I stop breastfeeding, but have been surprised to find that organic doesn't seem to be available locally. Has anyone else looked with more success? Thanks in advance, Amy

The only product I've seen is the Meyenberg brand and per their website: ''MEYENBERG products are completely natural without preservatives, no antibiotics, or bovine growth hormones (rBGH).'' That might be as close to natural as you can probably get. And I believe you can find them in the supermarkets as well as the natural food stores. Otherwise you might want to find a goat breeder who raises goats organically and get milk from them. Does anyone out there know of any breeders in the bay? anon

Vacuum-packed Milk

July 2004

My husband and I are going to be taking our 18 month old son in August to Mongolia and China. I know that they have milk available there, but I'm a bit worried that it may not taste the same as the milk here. I've heard that Horizon makes a vaccuum packed milk but I haven't seen it anywhere. Does anybody know where I can find this product? Or have any other suggestions for transporting milk on a 20 hour flight? We will have a refrigerator in our hotel room but that's a long time for milk not to be refrigerated. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Kelly

Whole Foods and Yasai market on College, but they are expensive! Ariel

We just found cartons of milk that do not need to be refrigerated at Andronico's (Shattuck & Cedar, juice-box size) and Monterey Market (quart size, made by Parmalat). robin

We buy vacuum packed parmalat milk at Berkeley Bowl (it's right next to the soy milk), comes in 8 0z. packages, tastes fine, we use it for camping or car trips. mama2

I don't have firsthand experience with vacuum packed cow's milk, but I have seen it in the Carribbean so I'm guessing it would be okay for your purposes. I can, however, recommend vacuum packed rice milk, which my son drinks because he is allergic to dairy. When I was trying to wean him he would not drink soy formula or soy milk, because they taste and smell pretty bad, but he took to rice milk just fine. I now use it on my cereal because it is so much easier than cow's milk, and it tastes good--very mild, sort of sweet (which makes it great on cereal), no unpleasant smell, and the Rice Dream Enriched brand is vitamin and calcium fortified. They make chocolate and vanilla too, but we like the plain enriched version. It's so convenient because you can always have it a supply in the cabinet (they are good for about a year before opening!), and in the earthquake kit. They make juice box-sized 3-packs also, which are good for travelling but not as economical. The 32- oz. box would probably be the best for your purposes. Good luck! Tracy

April 2004

I'm returning to work only after 7 weeks of maternity leave. I may need to supplement breastmilk with formula. I'm looking for organic formula brands. Also, how does the price of organic forumla compare with non-organic? Is organic forumla worth the cost? Suggestions are much appreciated. Jenny

Horizon organic is the only organic formula that I've seen (and purchased). It seems to run from $3-$5 more than the non-organic brands, if I remember correctly. Deborah

I don't believe there are any organic formulas for infants (under 12 months) out on the market; only for toddlers. You could pump at night/work to make up for the times you're not with your baby. But if this is not working out then you might want to look into organic goat milk. It is are easily digestible and closer to human breastmilk than cow's milk or commercial formulas. Meyenberg is a well-known producer of goat milk. Check out their website at www.meyenberg.com. Good luck. anon

In one of the previous responses someone wrote in that there is only organic formula for toddlers. The other brand besides Horizon, I think it's called Baby's Best, does say ''for toddlers'' on the label. But a friend of mine actually called the company to ask them about this -- they told her that the formula is fine for infants, and that the reason they say ''for toddlers'' on there is because they believe babies should be breastfed until at least 1 year old. (What I'd like to ask them is what about those babies whose mothers are unable to breastfeed?) You might want to call them directly to hear their explanation first hand. In any case, at around 7 months my son started getting some of the Babys Best organic formula and had no problems. It can be purchased at any of the natural food stores and at Elephant Pharmacy. anon

Here's another posting about ORGANIC FORMULA. There is a great brand that I used for the whole first year of my daughter's life. It's called BABY'S ONLY Organic Toddler Formula. I printed out a list of the nutrition facts and compared them to other infant formulas. The only significant differences seemed to be a tiny bit more calcium and fiber. My pediatrician checked out the information and agreed with me that it would be appropriate for an infant. It comes in dairy and soy. The cost is $10-11/can, but you can get case discounts at Whole Foods, Berkeley Bowl, and Berkeley/El Cerrito Natural Foods. I never had a full milk supply due to prior surgery, so I had no choice but to supplement. I'm studying for my Masters in Holistic Nutrition, and I've always tried to eat organic, so it was really important for me to find a healthy alternative for my baby. She just turned one, and she is very healthy. I recommend the website, which can answer any questions for you. www.naturesone.com

P.S. The company will send you 2 free cans of formula for every 24 proof-of-purchase seals that you send in.

Milk Delivery?

April 2003

Some time ago, I read about a milkman who delivers in Marin and San Francisco, but now I cannot find any information about his service. Does anybody know of a milk delivery service in the bay area? It would be my dream come true to have milk brought to my door...
Thirsty in San Francisco

The man you are referring to is Mike, the Milkman---he delivers from the South Bay all the way up to Marin, with a few East Bay spots thrown in. His number is 800-464-MILK. Very reasonable prices. Deniene