Organic Dairy and Sustainable Farming FAQ - Straus Family Creamery


Animal Welfare

How are cows cared for on the farms?

The humane treatment of animals is a fundamental principle of organic production. Livestock health-care practices and healthy living conditions are embedded in the National Organic Program regulations. Every certified organic farm affiliated with Straus Family Creamery submits an annual Organic Systems Plan in which animal welfare regulations are reviewed.

What do the cows eat?

The cows spend time out on pasture year round grazing whenever the weather permits. They graze on the rich, sweet grasses that are typical for Marin and Sonoma Counties. In the North Bay Coast region of California, with long wet and dry seasons, the cows eat a diet of 50 – 80% forages, which include fresh grasses, silage, and hay, depending on the time of year and pasture growth. The other 20 – 50% consists of a variety of certified organic, Non-GMO Project Verified grains such as barley, flax meal, soy, and corn. All purchased feeds are certified organic and are tested to verify that they are non-GMO.

Milking cows need a balanced diet, full of nutrients. We work closely with a dairy nutritionist, who has served on the National Organic Standards Board, to create a balanced diet for the cows to maintain their health and milk production.

All of the farmers providing milk to the Creamery follow the National Organic Program's Pasture Rule – grazing and pasture management standards as defined by USDA Organic Label requirements. Animals must graze at least 120 days per year and obtain at least 30% dry matter intake by grazing.

We believe giving cows access to grazing on grass contributes to good animal welfare and reduces the environmental impact on the land. A planned rotational grazing of the cows supports plant growth in carbon farming practices.

What breed of cows are on the dairy farms, and do you test the milk for A1/A2?

Organic milk supplied to Straus Family Creamery comes from several breeds of cows, including Jersey, Holstein, and Jersey-Holstein cross breeds. At present, the Creamery does not test for A1 or A2 proteins in cows’ milk supplied to us by twelve certified organic dairy farms. Our research and development team monitors ongoing scientific research of A1 and A2 proteins’ potential benefits.


Do your products contain gluten?

Our organic dairy products, including all flavors of yogurt, ice cream, types of sour cream, butter, and milk are gluten free. Equipment used in our facility is not shared with any products that contain gluten.

Do your products contain peanuts or tree nuts?

Straus Family Creamery’s production plant is peanut free. It is also tree nut free, with the exception of coconut oil. Coconut oil is an ingredient in our chocolatey chips, which are found in our vanilla chip, mint chip, and raspberry chip ice creams. Coconut oil is also an ingredient in the toffee pieces in our caramel toffee ice cream. We have comprehensive internal controls, including mandatory equipment cleanings, to ensure that there is no cross-contamination between products.

Do your products contain stabilizers or thickeners?

Our organic dairy products contain no stabilizers or thickeners. The single exception is our soft serve mixes, in which we use organic stabilizers.

The absence of stabilizers and thickeners means textures may vary, or you may notice separation in our products. The texture of our yogurt is purely defined by the culturing process. We allow for a variance in texture within our specifications range, so some batches may be somewhat thinner or thicker than others. Each batch of yogurt is tested for its viscosity level; if the level is within our specifications, the yogurt is approved for sale.

With no emulsifiers or stabilizers such as carrageenan or gums, the chocolate milk has natural separation. This requires an extra shake or two of the bottle to blend the ingredients before drinking.

Do your products contain corn or soy?

Straus Family Creamery’s production plant is corn free. It is also soy free, with the exception of soy lecithin, which is used in our chocolatey chips, found in our vanilla chip, mint chip, and raspberry chip ice creams. Soy lecithin is also used in the toffee pieces of our caramel toffee ice cream. To ensure that our ingredients do not have any allergen contamination, we maintain a supplier guarantee program, ensuring all of our ingredient suppliers have validated allergen control programs.

Are your products kosher?

Our dairy products are certified kosher by Kosher Supervision of America (KSA). Each ingredient used in our products is kosher and free of meat derivatives. The Creamery is audited quarterly, and our certification is renewed annually.

Do you have vegan options?

We currently do not offer vegan products.

Do you have any lactose-free products?

Our organic chocolate milk is lactose free.


My organization is hosting an event. Will Straus donate products?

We are happy to consider any donation request. Straus Family Creamery gives preference to organizations and events that are directly tied to our mission.

There are two types of donation requests: monetary and in-kind product donations. For monetary sponsorships and donations, we focus on mission-aligned organizations. For in-kind product donations, we focus more on local community, mission-aligned and civic organizations, and local schools.

Straus Family Creamery strives to support our local community, but we are unable to fulfill every single request. We thank you in advance for understanding. Note, any donation requests need at least 30 days’ notice.

Please complete the Donation Request Form here.

Organic Farming

What is organic?

At Straus Family Creamery, organic farming is a philosophy, not a marketing slogan. Our belief in organic farming is deeply rooted in our commitment to land stewardship that preserves the environment for future generations. This means that we treat our organic dairy cows according to federal organic standards. We strictly follow these standards and are committed to making delicious organic dairy products with minimal processing.

Organic integrity is very important to us. The USDA Organic Seal verifies products meeting organic standards, which is authenticated by an independent third party. In a food industry that is overflowing with single label claims without regulated third-party certification, we consider the USDA Organic Seal to be the gold standard.

Why non-GMO?

Every one of the certified organic dairies that provide milk to the Creamery complies with USDA organic standards. These standards prohibit the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our products and forbid the use of genetically modified crops grown or purchased to feed cows. At Straus Family Creamery, we believe that GMOs pose a threat to the land and to family farms and that GMOs have no place in farming or in our food system. The use of GMOs causes farmers to use more pesticides and fertilizers, which negatively impacts the environment.

How does the methane digester work?

The methane digester on the Straus Organic Dairy Farm captures methane in the digested manure from approximately 300 cows. Almost 2,750 gallons of cow manure is collected from the barns daily. The digester then converts the manure to renewable energy and nutrient-rich compost.

Approximately 8 million standard cubic feet of biogas is captured from the digester annually, reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions by 700 metric tons of CO2e.

The biogas is converted into renewable electricity, powering the entire 500-acre Straus Organic Dairy Farm. The amount produced annually is equivalent to removing 347 passenger vehicles from the roadways.*


Do you test for GMOs?

In 2005, Albert Straus started testing certified organic feeds for the cows. He found contamination from GMOs in some purchased feeds. To ensure that all Straus Family Creamery milk and dairy products remained 100% organic, Albert implemented a non-GMO testing and verification system of all animal feed purchased by the certified organic family farmers who supply milk.

Straus Family Creamery receives certified verification for every single ingredient that goes into each of our products, whether it’s vanilla or live, active cultures for our organic yogurt; chocolate for our organic ice cream; or enzymes for culturing our organic sour cream.

When the Non-GMO Project emerged in 2010, the Creamery took it to the next level, becoming the first Non-GMO Project Verified Creamery in the United States.

Organic Milk

Are your products pasteurized?

Yes, our organic dairy products start with milk that is pasteurized using the high temperature short pasteurization method at 170°F for 18 seconds. This method helps preserve the authentic flavor of the milk from the cows’ diet, as well as the milk’s nutritional integrity. Most milks are ultra-pasteurized to increase shelf life, which involves “cooking” the milk at a high temperature (at or above 280°F for at least two seconds); this can create “off” notes in the milk’s flavor. Straus milk is never ultra-pasteurized.

Are your dairy products fortified with vitamin D?

We do not fortify our milk with Vitamin D. Minimal processing is a defining characteristic of our core products.

Why do you add Vitamin A to some of your milk products?

To replace the Vitamin A removed when fat is separated from whole milk, federal law requires Vitamin A to be added to milk that is lower in fat than whole milk — namely, nonfat, lowfat (1%), and reduced fat (2%) milks. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and dissolves in milk. Vitamin A is added only to our nonfat, lowfat and reduced fat milks, not to our whole milk.

Is your milk homogenized?

We do not homogenize our milk, leaving the milk as close as possible to its natural state and allowing the cream to rise to the top. You will notice the cream-top in our glass-bottled milk. The only exceptions are our organic half & half, chocolate milk, Barista® Milk, and eggnog products, which are homogenized.

Why is there cream on top of my milk?

A cow produces whole milk that has two components: nonfat milk and cream. Left to settle, the cream will naturally rise to the top. The pasteurized milk we sell at retail stores is not homogenized (except for our half & half, chocolate milk and eggnog), leaving the milk as close as possible to its natural state. So, the cream naturally rises to the top.

What should I do with the cream on top of my milk?

As milk settles, the cream layer forms in the neck of the glass bottle. This is normal. Some people remove this cream entirely with a spoon and use it in their coffee, spread on a piece of bread, or for cooking. If you’d prefer that the cream redistribute before using, push the cream layer back into the milk and shake the bottle — just make sure you keep your hand firmly over the lid!

Resilient Packaging

Where can I purchase additional glass bottles?

We do not sell our glass bottles, but the manufacturer, Stanpac, sells blank bottles online. Just click “Shop Online” to access their General Store.

Why is there no safety seal on your ice cream?

Safety seals are not currently required by state or federal law for ice cream containers. We are committed to minimizing the impact on the land. We use recyclable packaging that currently has no compatible seal. Our sustainability and research and development departments work closely together to continuously review our packaging procedures and selections.

What should I do with my empty, reusable Straus bottles?

Please rinse the bottles and return them to your local store. You’ll get a $2 deposit refunded when the bottle is returned. The bottles are then returned to the Creamery, washed, sanitized, and reused an average of five times before re-entering the recycling stream. The bottles themselves are made with up to 30% recycled glass. We are very pleased to see a return rate of more than 80% on our bottles.

Are your plastic caps, pull tabs and yogurt cups recyclable?

The yogurt cups are recyclable and the pull tabs and milk caps are considered recyclable. However, the eligibility of recycling these materials depends on your county. We are committed to pursuing packaging improvements that minimize downstream environmental impacts, while maintaining strict food safety standards.


Which products do you sell?

We sell organic dairy products, including milk, cream, yogurt, butter, sour cream, ice cream, and a variety of wholesale and specialty dairy products. Please refer to our complete product list.

What does the sell-by date mean, and can I use your products after that date?

Sell-by date is marked on perishable products indicating the recommended time before which the product should be sold by a grocer. We do not recommend buying dairy products after the sell-by date. However, proper care of the product on its route from our Creamery to the retailer’s refrigerated case as well as to your refrigerator should result in freshness beyond the sell-by date. Conversely, significant temperature abuse (not keeping product refrigerated at or below 40° F) can, on occasion, lead to spoilage before a product’s sell-by date.

If the sell-by date has passed, we recommend smelling the product before tasting it to determine freshness.

Where can I buy your products?

Straus Family Creamery products are predominately sold in stores west of the Rocky Mountains, but our products are sold in a handful of stores in the South and Midwest. Please use the Store Locator on the top right side of the home page and the bottom pages of the website.

Will you expand distribution?

We are not focused on becoming a national brand. Our regional farming model can be replicated in communities across the country. The decisions we make at the Creamery and the farms are based on a sustainable food system and viable farming model that is an integral part of our communities. We don’t want to increase product volume in other areas of the country that could negatively impact their local communities and businesses.

Do you sell your products online?

We exclusively use independent distributors and do not sell any of our organic products online or on our website. There are a small number of third-party companies in the Western United States which sell a selection of our products online, such as Good Eggs, Farmstead, and Amazon Fresh. Also, the Bay Area Milkman and Sonoma-Marin Milkman (707-763-8661) offer home delivery of Straus milk in the greater San Francisco market. Note, Sonoma-Marin Milkman doesn’t have a website. Scroll down to the dairy home delivery section of this page to find more companies.

Which restaurants, ice cream shops, and coffee shops carry your products?

Many restaurants and artisan food producers seeking the highest quality dairy products buy Straus products. Several places feature Straus organic dairy products on their menus — Chez Panisse, French Laundry, Meadowood Resort, Google, Cowgirl Creamery, Miette Bakery, The Slanted Door, Bi-Rite Creamery, Roam Artisan Burgers, and Boba Guys, to name a few.

I have a product suggestion!

We always like to hear from our customers and appreciate their suggestions. Submit your suggestions at Contact Us.

I am interested in selling your retail products at my store. How can we get started?

Please contact for sales information.

Are your foodservice items (e.g. Barista®Milk, Ice Cream Mixes) available at retail stores?

Our foodservice items are not available at retail. If you are a business interested in using or serving these items, please click here.

I am a distributor interested in selling your products. How can we get started?

We’re not accepting new distributors at this time.


Do you give tours of the Straus Dairy Farm or the Creamery?

We do not host farm tours at the Straus Dairy Farm, the supplying family farms, or the Creamery. However, you can learn more about cheese tours at California Cheese Trail.  If interested in volunteering, visit Marin Agricultural Land Trust at for an opportunity to spend time on family farms and ranches, connect with landowners and work with MALT’s staff while learning about protecting farmland.

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