Simply Nature (Aldi)

Farm/Brand HeadquartersBatavia, IL
ProductsFluid milk
Market AreaNationwide
Total Score17

Even though none of the one-cow rated brands responded to our survey request, we were able to determine that these brands, at the time of our research, were buying some or all of their organic milk from “factory-farm” sources. We conducted our research in this area through interviews with a number of industry sources and through federally maintained records.

In 2017, it was confirmed via milk plant codes that Aldi sources at least some of their milk from Aurora Organic Dairy. Aurora is the largest factory-organic dairy producer in the USA, with a number of industrial-scale operations in Texas and Colorado. After formal legal complaints were filed by The Cornucopia Institute, 10 years ago, USDA investigators found Aurora in “willful” violation of the law, including illegally bringing in conventional cattle and confining cows without grazing. Aurora may still be shirking the organic requirements for grazing, as exposed by the article “Why Your ‘Organic’ Milk May Not Be Organic,” published in The Washington Post on May 1, 2017.

Unfortunately, there is an inherent limitation in private-label organic products: organic consumers tend to want to know where their food is coming from and how it is produced. Private-label products obscure these facts. Case in point, none of the private-label brands were open enough to participate in the dairy survey and scorecard.

The bottom line to private-label organic products is that they are “buyer beware.” We encourage consumers to be vigilant and contact stores to confirm who is supplying their private-label milk, or to just pay a for name-brand milk highly rated in the scorecard, from farmers and brands that are willing to be transparent in their business practices.

TOTAL (possible score is 1600)17
1-Cow Rating | Poor - Store brands
Farmstead dairies who live on-site (or work their own dairy daily) receive top points for this category. No transparency and/or no answer receive no points.
Ownership structure
1No answer
Farmstead dairies and well-managed cooperatives with only their own patrons get top points in this category. Fewer points go to brands that have less control over their milk supply.
Milk Supply
1No answer
Brands that do not also market any conventional products receive top points in this category. Brands that are less dedicated to organics receive fewer points.
Organic Production
1No answer
The best transparency toward Cornucopia investigators is rewarded by full points.
Disclosure of Information for Verification
1No answer
If a top-rated organic certifier certifies this brand they receive full points. Certifiers with questionable practices receive fewer points.
Organic Certification
1No answer
If this brand has other third-party labels, particularly animal-welfare labels, that will provide them extra points in this category depending on the particular label and its standards.
Other Labels/Standards
1No answer
100% Grass-fed with independent verification or independent standards to ensure compliance will receive full points in this category. Other points are attributed to how much forage composes the dairy cows’ diets.
1No answer
No point value – this information is offered for buyers interested in milk from cows without soy in their diets.
Soy Free Ration?
No answer. Soy is likely used in feed.
Rating based on (a) policies of brand, (b) enforcement/oversight (c) acreage available per cow, (d) average days on pasture (e) investigative actions.
1No answer
Where cows are milked one to two times per day they receive top points. It's standard organic protocol to milk two times a day. Dairies that milk three-to-four times a day is one indicator of factory-organics.
Times Milked
1No answer
A cull and/or death rate under 10% annually receives full points.
Cull/death Rate
1No answer
Closed herd (meaning the brand raises all their replacement cattle) receives full points. If conventional animals are purchased, the brand receives fewer points.
1No answer
If this brand has a unique way of managing calves they receive more points. If they remove the calf shortly after birth (the standard practice) they receive 70 points.
1No answer
When the brand prohibits all antibiotic use they receive full points. No answer receives no points.
Antibiotic Use
1No answer; animals given antibiotics may be introduced back into food stream after withdrawal times.
When no hormones are used on farm(s) this brand receives full points. When the brand uses hormones therapeutically post-birth the brand receives 50 points.
Hormone Usage
1No answer; hormones may be used therapeutically
Farmstead dairies (lives on site) get full points and cooperative/corporations that set standards and have staff that visit the supplying dairies also receive top points. No direct supervision and/or personal relationship with farm(s) gets low or no points.
Farm Support
1No answer
Full control of any added ingredients (100% come from within organization) receives top points. Dairy ingredients purchased from a number of different vendors (with less direct control) receives fewer points in this category.
Procurement of Ingredients
1No answer
Several questions were asked in addition to the original survey questions that would ultimately give producers “extra credit” points. Look for details in individual brand explanations.
Extra Credit

In the spirit of the 2018 giving season, a generous Cornucopia member has offered to DOUBLE ALL DONATIONS made in support of authentic and local food from true family farms. We hope you’ll take this opportunity to increase your impact with a gift to Cornucopia.

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