Some years ago there was an article in the New York Times describing certain farming techniques as being beyond organic. Ronnybrook Farms was mentioned as an example. The article spoke about local, knowing where your food came from and purity. Those qualities are not unique to organic products and in fact there are those that argue that as more products appear carrying the “organic” label the designation has begun to lose its authenticity.
Our cows are like family to us here. They are the offspring of a long line of prizewinning Holsteins that the Osofsky family has raised for nearly 70 years. In the rare event one of them gets sick, that animal is taken out of the milking rotation and isolated from the rest of the herd. If our veterinarian tells us that she needs antibiotics to get well, that’s what we do. Same as we would do with one of our children. When that animal is completely restored to health, she’s returned to the milking lineup with her sisters.
Our milk is tested daily by our state certified and licensed staff for antibiotics and other impurities to insure that all our products are as wholesome and healthful as possible. Bottom line: Our cows’ health is more important to us than the label. Though we pride ourselves on using homeopathic techniques in the treatment of our animals whenever possible, we reserve the right to treat them as directed by our veterinarians.
Our farming methods are by all practical measures organic, if not beyond. We use no pesticides on our fields, manure is our fertilizer of choice and we use cropping techniques that promote healthy soil. Our cow’s diet is a healthy, natural one. We strive every day to make sure yours is too. So, what is the difference between dairy farming practices at Ronnybrook and practices on organic dairies? Check out the chart below and we hope it is clearer that if dairying organically is a goal to strive for than Ronnybrook has clearly reached that goal and has moved beyond it.
Not mentioned above is a discussion of whether there is a difference between the food that cows eat that produce “organic” milk and food that Ronnybrook cows eat. There are differences to be sure, however, we believe the differences are insignificant and certainly less significant than the dairying methods that are “practiced” sometimes on “organic” dairies but always followed at Ronnybrook.
Organic feed cannot be grown with the use of pesticides. Ronnybrook adheres to that philosophy. In addition, organic feeds should not be grown with chemical fertilizers. While we understand why it is important to avoid the use of potentially toxic chemicals that are applied directly to food that we eat such as fruits and vegetables, we do not necessarily agree that it is less green or environmentally unfriendly to use certain chemicals including nitrogen, phosphorous or potash to supplement our “green” fertilization program. Though we depend heavily on the non-dairy commodity that cows produce to maintain the fertility of the soils on our farm, we also use commercial fertilizers in a limited way but only after carefully analyzing the composition of the soil through elaborate soil testing.
Michael Pollen in 2004 stated that “organic” used to represent a set of values, good stewardship of the earth, and a commitment to the health of its creatures, rather than a marketing concept used by agri-giants.” Here at Ronnybrook, we try to live by those values.
In 1941, long before anyone had heard of mega-farms or agri-corporations, Nana and Papa Osofsky started a small dairy farm, naming it for their eldest son, Ronny. Today, our extended family of kids and cows continues to work those same lovely Hudson Valley pastures. We make milk products the way we have for three generations, in small batches, delivered at peak freshness, pasteurized and without the use of rBST. Through this farm, we like to think we keep Nana and Papa’s spirit alive. Through these products, we hope to keep a small piece of America natural and alive.
To see the fresh line of dairy products, visit your local natural or gourmet food store in the NY-tri-state area or come to our Ronnybrook Store in the Chelsea Market at 75 Ninth Ave. (646-559-2828) or see our store list. If your store doesn’t carry Ronnybrook, have them E-mail the farm at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can bring them some of our delicious products! We will all live happily ever after.