Thursday, March 18, 2010

Where Does Your Milk Come From?

Do you guys drink milk? If you do, have you ever wondered where it came from? I'm not talking about where as in from cows but where as in the location of the cows.

Believe it or not the only milk I've ever had came from my biological mother. Mom doesn't give me milk because she says I don't need it. Huh? I don't need it but Dad does? Why is that? Mom refused to answer these questions and I didn't want to ask Puglet's friend Google. I really don't care so much about the fact that I can't have milk as much as I care about where Dad's milk comes from so I decided to check it out.

While Mom was out shopping today she picked up some milk. Dad recently started drinking Oberweis milk and he loves it. It comes in cool glass bottles and they will even deliver it to your door just like in the old days. Oberweis has been in business since 1927 and according to their website, people love the milk because of its taste. Apparently the glass bottles keep the milk cold and protect the flavor. This is what their website says about the cows and milk:

Let's start at the beginning…We purchase milk from family-owned dairy farms which pride themselves on superior quality. The dairy cows on their farms are not treated with synthetic rBGH hormones* and our farmers are paid a premium based on the measurable quality of the milk they produce.

Tankers pick up milk daily from our farms and deliver to our dairy plant where the milk is pasteurized, homogenized and bottled in half-gallon glass bottles. When you return your bottles to our store, we then wash, sterilize and re-use our bottles rather than contribute to the problem of overflowing landfills.

I'm all about keeping garbage out of landfills and since the bottles are returned to the place of purchase for a deposit, the only thing that gets recycled are the caps (they go to Aveda). Of course Oberweis cost more than regular grocery store milk. Mom paid $3.50 plus $1.50 for the bottle deposit. Yikes! I guess that's just the price you have to pay for premium milk.

So I know that Oberweis is premium milk but where do it's cows come from? The website only said they purchase their milk from family-owned dairy farms, but where are those located? So many questions. Luckily for me I found a website that may have the answers to my questions.

Do you see those numbers on the cap? The best by date is on top and right below is 10821 and a time. Those numbers must mean something right? To find out where the cows that made Dad's milk came from, all I have to do is enter the numbers into So simple even a pug could do it. Or so I thought.

I logged on to the where is my milk from website. The site explains how to read the numbers on the bottle and they provide lots of examples. The first part of the code is the state code and everything after that is the plant code. The state codes are always two digits and the plant codes can be one to five numbers or letters. My code is 10821 and since I know Oberweis is local (based in Aurora, IL), I'm assuming their cows are local too. All I have to do is put the code into the milk carton on the site and I will find out where Dad's cows come from. Right!

I entered 10821 and it came up invalid. 10 is the state code for Delaware, but 821 is an invalid plant code. Hmmm. I then tried 1082 and the same thing happened. What is going on? I looked around the website to see if there was another way I could locate my cows. I found a section called dairies, clicked on Illinois and found Oberweis. Their code is 17-61. What? Then I looked closer at the cap and noticed in very small teeny print "Plant #17-61". So then what is 10821? I was very confused so I decided to try another dairy product.

The site works with most dairy products so I decided to try Dad's creamer. He drinks coffee several times a week and he likes it with half-and-half. Surely this creamer would have a code that would tell me where it's cows came from.

Yikes! What a strange looking code. The first code I tried was 6414 but of course both the state and plant code were invalid. Then I tried 06414 and the state code 06 was correct (California) but the plant code was invalid. What is going on? There wasn't anything printed on the cap so I searched the label and sure enough, written in teeny print was "Plant 55-184". Guess where these cows live? Wisconsin, the dairy state! Dean Foods of WI - Golden Guernsey in Waukesha to be exact. Just up the road about 60 miles north of us are the cows that make Dad's cream.

But why does the website only show examples of codes on the bottles and caps and not on the labels? Good question. I'm emailing them tonight to give them my feedback. Not everypug is as smart as me and can figure things out, so I think they need to add additional information to the website. Printing codes on products is voluntary so not all dairy products will have codes. Some codes will not even be codes so it's best to look over the entire product before entering codes. I learned this the hard way even though it says this on the website. Ugh!

I thought this whole experience would clear some things up about the milk and creamer that Dad uses. The creamer label says "processed and packaged at plant 55-184" but doesn't mention the cows. Could it be that the cows don't live there? Maybe they live in another state and their milk is trucked to 55-184 to be pasturized, homogenized and packaged in bottles just like the Oberweis milk. Maybe the same cows that make Dad's milk make his cream. Who knows. I'm more confused now than when I started this project. Please check out where your milk comes from and let me know your results, that is if you get any.


dw said...

Hi, Stubby! I just bought milk at Jewel today -- just Jewel brand because it's only $2.38 with their card. I've tried Oberweis chocolate milk once and it was tres yummy!! But it was quite pricey. Anyway, my Jewel gallon says 1738 212. When I looked it up, 17-38 is Dean Illinois Dairies Llc in Huntley! I may have passed the cows that gave my milk while driving on the interstate! At least I'm hoping that's where the cows are! Thanks for the heads up!

Sequoia & Petunia & Emma said...

Hey Stubby!

This is so weird. We never knew you can do this. Mom is going try to look up her Lactaid milk. She thinks it comes from cows but has no idea really. We will let you know what we find!

Sequoia & Petunia & Emma said...

It worked! The code was correct too. Ours comes from Wichester, VA. Thanks!

Winston Wilbur said...

Oh my that is kind of disturbing me that you can't find out where you milk comes from. I wonder why it isn't workings, but it looks like it worked for Tuni so maybe that code on your milk isn't registered yet at the site you are using? I am not sure we have that here in Canada, a website likes that. Mum will have too look into this for me. I likes the idea of it.


Smushie Ranch said...

So cool Stubby! Mom is going to look it up. Dad likes chocolate milk out of a glass container. But they usually drink rice milk.

Stella, Gunther and Betty

Tweedles -- that's me said...

Hi Stubby
No body drinks milk here- but i like icecream.
What do you think?

THE PUGLET said...

Woa. Sooo many numbers. You are one persistent pug!

My human buys the fancy glass bottle milk sometimes, but here it costs like $8. Yeah. She likes milk, but not that much.

Is there way to find out which cows made our soy milk??

Brutus, Ellie, Pippa and Otto said...

Hey Stubby! We never knew you could look up to find where the milk comes from - very cool, thanks for sharing that info.

Mom & Dad know all about Oberweis Milk - they lived in the Chicago area for a few years. Mom loves Oberweis Milk! Too bad they don't sell it here :(

Pugs & Kisses,

Yoda & Brutus

Stubby said...

Hi dw! Dad used to drink Jewel milk but for some reason he decided to try Oberweis. It does cost more but it doesn't have all the hormones and junk in it. Sometimes it's on sale so maybe you can try it then.

That's so funny about your milk cows! I'm sure you have driven right by them. Next time wave!

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Sequoia & Tuni! I never knew about this either until last week. All this information is out there but you have to dig around to find it.

I'm so you found out where your cows live. It sounds like they live close to you so maybe you can go visit them!

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stubby said...

Hi Winston! My codes worked but I'm still confused about if the cows live at the place the milk is processed and packaged. It seems to me that the cows could live in one place and their milk could be processed somewhere else. All of this is so confusing to me.

Let me know if you have something like this up in Canada. I'd be interested to see if your cows live close to you.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Stella, Gunther & Betty! That's so cool that your dad drinks chocolate milk. I bet it tastes yummy!

Mom doesn't drink milk because it comes from cows but she sometimes cooks with soy or rice milk.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Tweedles! I think you there should be a code on the ice cream that you can enter. Ice cream has milk so you should be able to find out where the cows live. Good luck!

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Puglet! $8.00 for milk? Sheesh, that's a lot of money. I can see what your human doesn't drink that much of it because if she did there wouldn't be any money left over for your treats.

Since soy milk doesn't come from cows you can't enter it's code on the site. There's probably a site to find out where your soy lives but I haven't found it yet.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Yoda & Brutus! I didn't know your parents used to live in Chicago. Too bad they don't sell Oberweis where you live because everyone raves about it. I bet they don't sell it there because they don't have any cows there.

Stubby xoxo

Laura D said...

Hi, Stubby! My Walter did some Pug sleuthing and found out that 0821 is a code- it points to Colorado! Walter is a pretty good sleuth... must be all the sniffing!