What has moms all over the country shrieking (quietly, to themselves) as they reach into the dairy cases? There's an organic milk shortage going on. At some stores, cartons are dwindling, and at others, the prices are rising -- and it looks like we're just getting started. Within the next few weeks, organic milk may go up as much as $1-2 a gallon at some stores.
This is bad news for a lot of families committed to drinking organic milk -- like my family! I know we go through nearly two gallons of milk a week -- for two adults and one kid. It's our 8-year-old son who's the milk-guzzler in our family. But that demand at home is all the more reason why, even if prices go up for us, we'll keep buying organic.
These new prices are something we may just have to get used to probably at least until the fall. I spoke with Dean Sparks, owner of NYFoods, an organic food company that sells milk (full disclosure, we're customers) about what's going on. He says the shortages and price hikes are due to a "perfect storm" of floods and droughts that impacted organic corn and alfalfa for feed, plus other increased farming costs (tractor fuel), PLUS the demand for milk going up by 15 percent in 2011. A lot of dairies did not see that last one coming!
And that rise in demand is good for us organic milk drinkers ... in the long run. But for now it has some organic milk companies scrambling. Larger milk companies like Horizon are hit hardest by these changes. Smaller companies, like Dean's, are weathering the turbulence better. So watch out for those smaller organic brands -- they might be easier on your wallet.
Regardless, with my son drinking as much milk as he does, I want to protect his growing body from GMOs, unnecessary antibiotics, and other synthetic ne're-do-wells whenever I can. So we buy organic (most of the time). But I know that's not an option right now for some families who are already squeezed. Organic milk shouldn't be a luxury -- but farmers should be able to make a living, too. It's a tough problem to solve.
Do you buy organic milk? Have you noticed shortages or price hikes, and if so, are you changing your buying habits?
Image via muffet/Flickr