Green Efforts: Straus Family Creamery

Oliver’s is proud to showcase Straus Family Creamery’s organic yogurt as our Green Item of the Month. Bill and Ellen Straus’ tremendous history of land stewardship and progressive dairy management began after Ellen read Rachel Carson’s seminal Silent Springs. We at Oliver’s are pleased to partner with a business that is a leader in sustainable business practices and a valuable member of the community.

Straus currently practices many sustainable methods including: organic certification of their land and animals, methane gas capture, not using GMO products, proper waste management, and packaging their products in reusable containers.

Straus became an organic farm in the 90’s. Straus commitment to producing the best product possible has led to implementation of “green” practices (including organic certification requirements). No hormones or antibiotics are used, and when needed, cows are treated with homeopathic methods. No herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers have been used on the farm since the 1980’s. Natural pest control and solar powered bug zappers are used to eliminate pest from cows at different stages. No Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) or Growth Hormones are used in the feeding of Straus cows.  All of these practices create a healthier cow, which in turn produces a healthier dairy product.

Methane gas capture is helping Straus reduce their Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and power the farm. Methane is a powerful GHG, approximately 21 times more detrimental then Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Cattle are a major methane contributor around the world. As the demand for beef and dairy products increase, the amount of methane produced from cattle also increase. In 2004, Straus launched its methane capture system. This system generates over 300,000 kWh a year of electricity, equivalent to what would have cost $40,000. Recent upgrades now allow this system to produce more energy than the dairy uses, which allow Straus to sell energy back to the utility company. Remaining solids are used as fertilizer on the farm, ensuring the land remains full of needed nutrients. Ancillary benefits include the reduction of odor and fly population.

Straus has worked hard to creatively use common bi-products of farming processes and decrease waste. Most notably, the water used to clean the barns is channeled to holding ponds where methane is captured and the remaining solids and sludge are spread across the fields. These nutrient rich items increase the fertility of the land, in turn, increasing the vegetation, which feeds the animals. Additionally, proper disposal of farm equipment means it is not rusting on the land and reusable parts are removed before the equipment is recycled.

Straus delivers milk in reusable glass containers. Recycling is great, but re-using is even better. Glass containers can be brought back to the store where purchased for a $1.50 refund. These containers are shipped back to Straus where they are cleaned and re-used. Each glass bottle is re-used an average of eight times. Almost 95% of bottles are returned. This drastically reduces the need for new glass bottles, as well as saving the energy needed to recycle the glass.

These practices, among others, are why Oliver’s has chosen Straus yogurt as January’s Green Item of the Month. For more information on Straus’ accomplishments check out their website: Straus Family Creamery

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