When Lewis Road Creamery milk launched last year, consumers were finally given a choice about what milk they bought and consumed. Judging by the quantities it has stocked in all the major supermarkets, it has found a grateful market. I had been making a bit of noise for some time about the state of milk on the market because I believed it to contain permeates, was unnecessarily homogenised and the cows it came from were fed PKE. I will explain this later. But best of all was the fact they brought out an organic milk that has two verifications. Now we have Puhoi Valley milk, which has come out in similar bottles and sizes. It's not often I review a product that has only one ingredient but in this case I felt there was enough information in that one ingredient to look at.
Puhoi Valley Non-Homogenised Milk $3.50 for 750ml
Ingredients: Fresh, organic, whole milk.
There is no doubting this milk is fresh; if it wasn't it would be off and no one would want to drink it.
Organic is another thing. Nowhere on this bottle is there any verification or certification proving that this milk is organic. Consumers should be aware that there is no legal definition of the word "organic" so producers can put that word on their label and not have to prove that their product is actually organic.
Lewis Road provides the AsureQuality Organic certification which audits, inspects, verifies and provides certification to organic producers. It's a long, involved and expensive process but one quality organic producers do as a protection for their consumers. Lewis Road also has the Oritain logo, which means that its milk is analysed to check that the supply chain is as it should be and that milk is from an organic herd.
Puhoi Valley's milk may be called organic but as a frequent consumer of organic food, I would never consume it without certification.
You know you are drinking whole milk if there is cream on the top - just like the old days. I found more cream on the top of Lewis Road then Puhoi.
It is hard to say what milk in New Zealand contains permeates but in my opinion if it doesn't say permeate-free then presume it has it in it. Permeate is a waste product in dairy production that resembles whey. Many milk companies add it back into their milk, which essentially waters it down and makes it go further.
PKE stands for palm kernel expeller - a byproduct of the palm oil industry that is often fed to cows when pasture is low. While we may labour under the impression that our dairy cows are grass or silage fed in New Zealand, many farmers are opting for the cheap, imported PKE feed.
Milk is homogenised for no reason that I can find other than to stop the cream rising to the surface, as in the old days. So the whole process is to save us having to go to the trouble of shaking the milk or scraping the cream off the top. The majority of our milk goes through this unnecessary process.
It basically involves squirting the milk at high pressure between two hard surfaces. This smashes proteins, which contain the natural fat globules, and breaks them up so they are dispersed in the milk.
Some people believe this allows the individual milk fat molecules to permeate the stomach/intestinal wall too quickly and enter the blood stream, causing problems with the heart and the circulation system.
Despite the words "artisan dairy" appearing on the label of this milk, Puhoi Valley is owned by Goodman Fielder, one of the largest food manufacturers in this country and owner of the Meadowfresh milk brand.
As of March this year, Goodman Fielder is owned by two leading food companies in Asia, Wilmar International and First Pacific.
My beef with this milk is that there is no proof that it is organic. I am therefore less likely to believe its other claims.
Both this milk and Lewis Road are costly, coming in at $3.50 per 750ml bottle compared to normal milk, which sells for about $2 for the same amount.
So if you're paying nearly twice as much for good-quality milk, I would go for the one that has gone to the expense of grazing their cows on certified organic pasture grown without herbicides, pesticides or synthetic fertilisers and which provides proof that what you think you are buying is actually in that bottle.
Footnote: I checked with Goodman Fielder this week and it says it is in the process of applying for organic certification and should have it on bottles in a couple of weeks. That's good to know, but it would have been much better to get the certification before putting the product on sale. This product was sent to Wendyl to review.
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