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Do you scream for ice cream? Or perhaps you love the taste of plant-based? Either way, we've got you covered with chilled Non-GMO Project Verified treats certain to satisfy. Each brand offers something special, and all create innovative flavors made with high-quality ingredients. 

Ice cream and non-dairy frozen desserts pair wonderfully with fresh berries that are just coming into season. Or build out a whole self-serve sundae station at your next cook-out!

  1. Straus Family Creamery meets the gold standard for clean labels, with both USDA Organic Certification and the Non-GMO Project Butterfly. The whole production model relies on a comprehensive sustainability plan, prioritizing soil health and resource conservation. Straus offers all the classic flavors you expect from a family creamery, as well as some fresh takes like Chai Latte, Snickerdoodle and more. With the entire line certified kosher and gluten-free, who can say no to a scoop (or two)?
  2. For 16 years, Cosmic Bliss earned the loyalty of many plant-based fans under the banner Coconut Bliss, offering creamy, dairy-free ice creams made from coconut milk. The company's new name reflects their expansion into grass-fed dairy options and their continued dedication to sustainability, stewardship and deliciousness. With Cosmic Bliss offering both plant-based and dairy options, we wonder if their ice cream could invite dairy-lovers to try plant-based options. After all, if it says "Bliss" on the label, you know it’s got to be good. 
  3. When DiNoci Dairy Free founder Scott Emeson embraced a plant-based diet, he didn't want to compromise on great tasting food (or rely on unnatural ingredients to fool his taste buds). So he created his own dairy free dessert without the soy, gluten or gum additives — and without GMOs. DiNoci starts with almond milk or oat milk, adding the highest quality ingredients to ensure great taste. Did you know 150 lbs of organic strawberries go into each batch of Strawberry? Made with natural, high-quality ingredients, DiNoci delivers a velvety treat you can feel good about.
  4. Nada Moo promises creamy coconut-milk frozen dessert that's "certifiably good for you" — a bold claim that's backed up by their ambitious certifications. Made with organic coconut milk, Nada Moo is Non-GMO Project Verified, gluten-free, vegan and fair trade certified. It's also a certified B Corp, proudly considering the impacts of all their business decisions on people, communities and the environment. Nada Moo makes the most of sustainably sourced alternative sweeteners which provide sweetness without the blood sugar spike of cane sugar. With seasonal specials and one-of-a-kind flavors, maybe Nada Moo should be enjoyed year-round?
  5. The women behind female-owned O'MY created their "allergy-friendly" coconut milk-based gelato so everyone could enjoy it. They know all too well that dietary restrictions and allergies make it difficult for some people to join group meals and community events. Missing out can be isolating (a feeling none of us need more of!). That's why O'MY avoids common allergens in their recipes and even offers a low-sugar, keto-friendly line made with allulose. The result is just the right amount of sweetness without the high calories of glycemic impact or of cane sugar. Ingredient lists show simple, recognizable contents in every pint, and cocoa and chocolate are fair trade certified. Grab a spoon and join in with O'MY! 

What are you waiting for? Add a scoop to that pie or crumble. With dozens of flavors available in dairy and plant-based options, the sky's the limit. 

Join us next week when we bring you the best non-GMO side dishes and condiments for your next cookout. By the time the 4th of July weekend rolls around, we'll have your whole menu sorted — and Verified!

Every June, we highlight natural dairy products and producers during National Dairy Month. This year's celebrations are particularly important because of a new GMO antagonist: synbio non-animal dairy proteins. 

Synbio dairy proteins are made using synthetic biology, which generally exploits genetically modified microorganisms to produce novel compounds. Synthetic biology is just one part of the biotech industry's push towards an increasingly unnatural, engineered food system reliant on patents and corporate control.

Of course, genetic engineering isn't the only path to innovation. One farm at a time, natural dairy producers are combining age-old strategies with cutting-edge infrastructure to adapt to — and even mitigate — the climate crisis, proving that cows can be part of a comprehensive regenerative strategy with incalculable benefits.

Here are the top 5 ways natural dairy leaves synthetic biology in the dirt:

1. Nature's first fertilizer

Rather than relying on synthetic fertilizers made with and transported using fossil fuels, regenerative dairy operations treat and repurpose cow waste solids to feed the soil. This is the oldest form of nutrient cycling, and ruminants are the stars of the show. It's also a valuable example of circular resource use, in which products that are generally regarded as waste are integrated on-farm to boost productivity and reduce externalities. 

2. Renewable energy: the other gas

Much of dairy farming's climate impact comes from methane, a potent greenhouse gas produced through a cow's digestion. At Straus Family Creamery, innovative thinkers have turned that minus into a plus. The Straus team installed a methane digester to convert the gas into usable energy. In fact, according to a 2020 Sustainability Report, "the methane digester provides enough renewable energy to power the entire dairy farm, charge [founder and CEO] Albert Straus’ electric car and other farm vehicles." 

3. Rotational grazing 'til the cows come home

Did you know properly managed cattle can help regenerate grasslands and sink carbon into the soil where it belongs? At Alexandre Family Farms, cows are moved around the acreage in a cycle of grazing, pooping and restoration. After 30 years of rotational grazing, soil carbon has increased dramatically, supporting a variety of ecosystem services and producing better forage for the cows. 

4. Less water and cleaner water

Soil health is a critical part of regenerative farming — and what benefits soil also benefits water! Building healthy soil increases its water-holding capacity with dramatically improved performance during periods of drought and lessens the need for irrigation. Rich soil offers better filtration as water moves through it by maintaining moisture and keeping valuable nutrients on the farm for longer. 

5. Beyond milk: ecosystem management

Regenerative farming lends itself to restructuring in ways that synbio doesn't. The deeper we dive into using and restoring resources, the more farming becomes about ecosystem management rather than just producing a commodity. A holistically managed system is more complex and delivers layers of benefits.  

Ultimately, explorers are going to explore — and dairy farmers seeking ways to improve their systems are no different. What started on the farm expands beyond the horizon, diverting waste from landfills, sourcing reusable packaging or finding creative ways to bolster the local economy. Meanwhile, synbio remains inherently extractive, reinforcing patented technology, corporate power structures and GMOs.

At its height, synbio's environmental claims rest on doing less harm (though exactly how much less is uncertain), but that simply isn't enough. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must rebuild ecosystems and restore planetary health. Regeneration is essential for future generations' food security and investing in natural and nourishing food is top of mind for shoppers and farmers alike.

"Consumers want to make purchases based on their values, and farmers want to farm to their values…. This grassroots approach is driving so much change," said Chris Kerston, leader of the certification program Land to Market, in an interview with Civil Eats.  

As this movement gains momentum, every dairy farm that develops a climate-positive plan becomes a resource for other farmers. That's some serious innovation.

Happy woman takes bottle of milk out of fridge, test on left reads "Food grown on soil, not in a lab. #DAIRYMONTH with the Non-GMO Project"June is National Dairy Month! We're celebrating natural dairy by investigating an interloper in the dairy aisle, a wolf in cow's clothing: synthetic biology dairy proteins. Synbio proteins have fed the biotech's growing dairy presence in recent years, spawning a range of products made with non-animal dairy proteins.

So far, these products include GMO milk, cheese spread and ice cream. It's important to note they aren't the same as plant-based dairy alternatives like oat milk or coconut milk ice cream. Plant-based products can be made naturally, and many are Non-GMO Project Verified options

Non-animal dairy proteins, on the other hand, are another (non) animal altogether.

What is synbio dairy, precisely?

Non-animal dairy proteins are made through synthetic biology ("synbio"). Synbio techniques generally use genetically engineered microorganisms to produce novel compounds (in this case, dairy proteins) through fermentation. 

Rows of fermentation tanks in an industrial buildingPicture this: Massive steel fermentation tanks housed in warehouses are populated with genetically engineered microorganisms such as yeast. The GMO microorganisms are fed a steady diet of simple sugars, which are broken down through fermentation. Genetic engineering instructs those microorganisms to produce dairy proteins. Then, the dairy proteins are separated from the growth medium, and combined with flavorings, texturizers, colorants, etc. to create synthetic milk products.  

The synbio process is antithetical to a non-GMO or regenerative dairy operation. On a real dairy farm, the livestock is cows, not herds of microorganisms. The cows eat grass, non-GMO feed or a combination of the two, while microorganisms are fed simple sugars. Cows produce whole milk, and the byproduct is cow manure, which is a natural fertilizer. Microorganisms produce dairy proteins through a combination of genetic engineering and fermentation. The byproducts include significant biohazardous waste. Milk and cream are whole foods, whereas the ingredient panel on non-animal milk comprises more than a dozen other ingredients.

Synthetic biology isn't just for dairy proteins. It can be used to generate a wide range of compounds, including flavors, scents, vitamins or other additives. Currently, synbio ingredients show up in virtually every aisle in the grocery store. The companies behind these products use the marketing term "precision fermentation" to describe synthetic biology to their customers, but the products it describes are precisely unnatural.

Venture capital and future outlook

In the last five years, the Non-GMO Project's biotechnology research team has tracked a sharp increase in biotech developers exploring synthetic biology. That proliferation reflects the staggering private investment and the exponential growth of unnatural synbio ingredients.

In the words of SynBioBeta founder John Cumbers, "Once synthetic biology can direct cells to change identity, the possibilities could be only limited by our imagination." As the technology evolves to include new methods and products, synbio's presence in the supply chain grows. 

"Just about all of this new food technology is heavily funded by tech oligarchs, venture capitalists, or the occasional celebrity," writes author and industry expert Errol Schweizer. (Schweizer serves on the Non-GMO Project's Board of Directors and is a panelist in the upcoming seminar, How Do You Milk a Microbe? How Synbio is Disrupting the Dairy Industry). Investors are focused on monopolizing emerging markets. "Think: Uber, Doordash, Instacart, Amazon. The investors throwing billions of dollars at such enterprises are not altruists, even if some are motivated by animal rights or climate change." 

You are what you eat

Synbio dairy isn't the first GMO to impact the dairy industry. 

Traditional GMOs, such as genetically engineered corn, soy, cotton and alfalfa, are common ingredients in conventional livestock feed, and their production dominates North American agricultural land. Other ingredients that appear in synbio dairy product formulations — such as sweeteners and starches — are assumed to be sourced from GMOs. Non-GMO Project verification ensures that your favorite dairy products meet the highest standard for GMO avoidance.

While livestock farming can involve various practices and outcomes, we believe the future is non-GMO and regenerative. We continue to work toward reducing the dairy industry's environmental impact, moving towards carbon sequestration, healthy people, animals and soil. Join us next week when we explore the regenerative potential of dairy operations and compare synbio's environmental footprint.

Until then, look for the Butterfly in the dairy aisle and beyond!

In 2011, Peter Cullinane had an idea. He was at a grocery store, searching for some high-quality butter to go with the baguette and ham he'd put aside for lunch. He knew that while the right butter could turn a simple meal into a symphony, the wrong butter could be a train wreck (not to mention a disservice to the baguette and ham). Surveying the shelves, Peter asked himself why the best quality butter was imported all the way from Europe when the best land for dairy was right there in New Zealand. And because there was no reasonable answer to that question, he decided to make his own. Grabbing some fresh cream and a mason jar, Peter started the journey to Lewis Road.

The landscape of New Zealand is synonymous with epic journeys. We have J.R.R Tolkein and Peter Jackson to thank for that. There are many metaphoric and archetypal interpretations of the Lord of the Rings, but I favor its environmental message. Tolkein wrote most of the trilogy against the backdrop of the Second World War. Did the author somehow foresee the influence that wartime technology would have on chemically-based agriculture, and ultimately on GMOs? Without some kind of magical foresight, how could such a thing be possible? (*wink*) But the hellish assembly line of Isengard and its ultimate defeat by powerful tree shepherds was epic. A scoreboard at the close of The Two Towers would have read as follows:

Forces of Nature: 1

Large-scale Industrialization: 0

Which brings us back to Peter Cullinane's butter. To perfect his butter-making skills and build his business, Peter adopted a simple guiding principle: How can we make it as it should be? That's how he avoided the all-too-common temptation to make products faster or cheaper —there's already more than enough of that at the grocer's. Lewis Road stretches in a different direction, where product quality, animal welfare and environmental stewardship govern action and innovation.
The best butter comes from the best cream, and the best cream comes from the happiest and healthiest cows. Those cows live in New Zealand, where climate and rainfall conspire to create "any self-respecting dairy cow’s dream home." Here, the farmers that work with Lewis Road honor the fundamental connection between humans, animals, and plants: In a perfect system, the land feeds the animals and plants, the animals and plants feed the people, and the people make sure the plant and animal waste products (ahem, manure) are returned to the land. In a perfect system, each element makes the others stronger. This is the philosophy underpinning Lewis Road's Ten Promises, which include an Environmental Sustainability Plan, as well as commitments to the highest standards of care for the cows and the people that work with them.

Lewis Road cows have constant access to pastureland, 365 days per year. They are never confined to barns or stalls. Their feed is never "stretched" with cost-cutting GMO grains or palm oil by-products. Lewis Road's dedication to animal welfare shines in their adoption of the Five Freedoms:

(Author's note: At this point, not only do I want to move to New Zealand, I'm also seriously considering becoming a dairy cow.)

The product of this beautiful life is, quite simply, beautiful butter. Lewis Road butter has unparalleled taste and texture, and it's high in valuable Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin K2.  Whether you are a butter-purist, looking for the original product, or your adventurous palate draws you to Lewis Road's newest flavored products, the highest quality butter in the world is now available in the US. Click here to find a store near you. Try the butter lover's butter. 

 

cows

GMOs have a large hoof-print in the world of animal-derived products. Keeping them out of the food supply and out of your grocery cart is no small task. During National Dairy Month, we tip our hats to all the brands that have committed to non-GMO by bringing you an overview of where GMOs show up in the dairy aisle.

You are what your dairy cow eats.

The most common way for GMOs to enter the dairy supply is through animal feed. High-risk GMO crops, including corn, soy, cottonseed, and alfalfa, are prevalent in animal feed. These four crops cover more than half of U.S. cropland. Of that acreage, 92% of the corn grown is GMO, and 94% of the soy. That adds up to hundreds of millions of acres of GMO crops destined for the feed trough.

When products made from animal sources undergo verification, the livestock feed faces extra scrutiny and testing to ensure it meets the Non-GMO Project Standard. Because of the massive scale of GMO commodity crop acreage, increasing the demand for non-GMO feed is the strongest leverage point to move the needle on conventionally grown crops. 

Now, genetically engineered dairy is entering the market, including products made with synthetic biology or gene editing techniques like CRISPR and TALEN. (For more on the latest threats from synbio non-animal dairy, read Synbio Milk is a Dud.)

New techniques, same GMOs

The biotechnology industry is hard at work to find new ways to bend DNA to its will. In 2015, the first genetically engineered hornless cows were born. The goal of the hornless cow is — to put it plainly — to eliminate the "stabby" bits, which pose risks for cows housed in tight quarters and the farmers who tend to them. While we are in no way pro-puncture, it's worth noting the cow horns are unique in that they are an extension of the animal's sinus cavities. The health of the horns impacts the animal's health, well-being, and even their social functioning (cows are herd animals, not loners). Since hornless cattle are already produced through traditional breeding, one wonders why GMO hornless cows were thought necessary at all. 

We also see a push to change the composition of milk by genetically modifying cows and goats. Cows have even been engineered to produce human breast milk. Or, skipping the cow altogether, synthetic breast milk has been created entirely in the lab. Breast milk is a weighty topic, given its unique role in the bond between a new parent and baby. While every parent wants what's best for their child, some encounter obstacles to breastfeeding, facing heartache and difficult decisions. Does synthetic breast milk — created with new technology in the complex and often misunderstood world of genetics — truly offer a better choice?

#BeTheButterfly in the dairy aisle

With millions and acres and billions of dollars at play in the world of genetically modified dairy, what can the lone consumer do? That part is, thankfully, simple. You can support non-GMO in the dairy industry, from what the animals eat to what your families eat. You can support — and grow — the demand for non-GMO corn and soy, and say no to sneaky synbio. Consumer demand drives the market. By looking for the butterfly, you make a powerful statement that your food comes from nature, and you want it to stay that way.

 

This content was originally posted on 6/26/2020.

 

 

 

This article was written by Ken Roseboro, Editor of  The Organic & Non-GMO Report, and was originally published at non-gmoreport.com. It has been re-posted with permission from The Organic & Non-GMO Report.

At Trickling Springs Creamery switching to non-GMO milk production has been a long-time company goal, according to Joe Miller, director of marketing and specialty sales.

We thought it was the right thing to do,” he says. “From the beginning, we set requirements for not allowing rBST (genetically engineered bovine growth hormone). Being non-GMO makes a difference in the quality of dairy products and the well-being of cows.”

According to Miller, Trickling Springs became concerned about GMO contamination of crops used for feed such as corn, soybeans, and alfalfa hay and decided to pursue Non-GMO Project verification. They began the verification process in August 2014 and started GMO testing of feed crops grown on both organic and conventional dairy farms.Based in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Trickling Springs buys milk from 44 dairy farms in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. The farms have an average of 60 cows, which are mostly grass-fed. About 60 percent of Trickling Springs’ production is organic; the other 40 percent is “natural,” non-GMO, sold under the FarmFriend brand. Products include fresh and chocolate milk, cream, butter, raw cheese, ice cream, and goat milk. These are sold in supermarkets and natural food stores and cooperatives from Connecticut to Florida and as far west as Ohio.

The Non-GMO Project standard requires the use of tested non-GMO feed, and cows must consume non-GMO feed for at least 30 days for milk to be verified. (The latter rule was one year when Trickling Springs went through the verification process.) The feed must meet a GMO threshold of less than 5 percent.

Trickling Springs’ organic products received Non-GMO Project verification by October 2014. Non-GMO verification of the main FarmFriend farm was completed in October 2015, and the rest of the farms were verified by March 2016. Today, all Trickling Springs Creamery Products, organic and conventional, are Non-GMO Project Verified.

Demand for his company’s products are strong, particularly the FarmFriend products, which cost about 30 percent less than the company’s organic products.

We’ve seen higher growth in sales of FarmFriend products but our organic sales growth is hurt by an oversupply of organic milk in the market,” Miller says.

Non-GMO Project verification offers dairy companies a way to differentiate their products in a challenging over-supplied market for milk.

You have to differentiate yourself,” says Warren Taylor, owner of Ohio-based Snowville Creamery, which also sells non-GMO milk. “Non-GMO provides a third option between organic and conventional. It’s the next obvious attribute after rBST-free.”

Pathway to organic dairy production

According to Miller, another advantage to Trickling Springs Creamery’s non-GMO verification program is that it provides a pathway for dairy farms to become certified organic. FarmFriend standards, which include raising cows on pasture, meeting standards for cow health, and prohibiting the use of synthetic hormones, are similar to those for Trickling Springs’ organic farms.

Because we have strict standards for our FarmFriend farms, it’s not difficult for farmers to become certified organic,” he says. “If we can move them toward Non-GMO Project verification, we are also helping move them one step forward toward organic.”

About 80 percent of FarmFriend farms have transitioned to organic. “We’ve transitioned farmers (to organic) who originally said they would never be certified,” Miller says.

Non-GMO verification is also important for Trickling Springs’ organic products. This was a step toward raising awareness about GMOs, and it’s about ensuring the integrity of organic crops and food,” Miller says.

According to Annie Shannahan, Non-GMO Project director of client services, there are 387 Non-GMO Project Verified dairy products now on the market, and growing interest from dairy producers seeking non-GMO verification,.

In general there has been an increase in demand for dairy, meat, milk and eggs since the changes to the animal feed threshold in the Non-GMO Project Standard in 2016,” Shannahan says.

Some other non-organic dairy producers that sell Non-GMO Project Verified products include Hartzler Family Dairy in Ohio, Trace Cooperative in Minnesota, Byre Dairy in New York, and MyShan Dairy in Washington, to name a few. Many organic dairy producers such as Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farm also have Non-GMO Project Verified products.

Clover Stornetta responds to consumer demand

One of the largest dairy producers in the U.S. to become Non-GMO Project Verified is Clover Stornetta based in Petaluma, California. Clover is transitioning its dairy products to non-GMO based on consumer demand.

It stems back to us having a mission to listen to consumers, and there is a desire among our consumers to avoid GMOs,” says Kristel Corson, Clover’s marketing director.

In an online survey, 56 percent of Clover consumers said they thought GMOs presented health risks, and 60 percent said they wanted a non-GMO milk option.

Milk is a natural product, and consumers thought that having a product not connected with GMOs is important,” Corson said.

Last fall, Clover announced that it would transition all of its conventional dairy milk products to be Non-GMO Project Verified by 2018.

Clover sources milk from 19 organic and 13 conventional dairies that have an average of 350 cows per farm. The company processes more than 50,000 gallons of milk per day. Production is evenly split between organic and conventional.

Besides meeting consumer demand, Clover wanted to help their dairy farms in a challenging milk industry.

We wanted to help them become more sustainable and are always looking for opportunities for our dairy farmers to gain value,” says Mkulima Britt, director of strategic partnerships.

Similar to Trickling Springs Creamery, Clover emphasizes sustainability in its conventional milk production. The company established its own set of quality standards for its milk with the North Coast Excellence Certified program; was the first dairy in the U.S. to become American Humane Certified; and its milk is also rBST-free. Non-GMO Project verification seemed like the natural next step.

The verification process was not difficult for Clover because, like Trickling Springs, their organic products had already been non-GMO verified.

We process both conventional and organic and have experience with segregation to produce those products,” Britt says. “Non-GMO verification is something we know we can do.”

Clover started the verification process with 25 percent of its conventional dairies. The company will introduce its first Non-GMO Project Verified conventional milk products this month.

“Parents are asking for this”

Clover’s dairy farms buy feed from brokers or feed mills. According to Britt, there are sufficient supplies of non-GMO feed to meet Clover’s needs. “There are supplies available. It’s more a fine-tuning of the supply chain to make sure it is more efficient.”

Shannahan also says there is a good supply of non-GMO feed. “We hear from our partners working closely with those in the dairy supply chain that there is a sufficient supply of non-GMO feed.”

Clover’s Non-GMO Project Verified milk provides an affordable alternative to organic similar to Trickling Springs’ FarmFriend milk.

There is a large set of consumers who can’t afford organic, but still want humanely and sustainably produced milk,” Corson says.

The reaction from Clover’s customers to Non-GMO Project Verified milk has been “extremely positive,” Corson says. “Parents are asking for this, and our part is to respond to that demand.”

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