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Taste Test: Local, Sustainable Whole Milk From 6 Top California Dairies



Humans have been consuming cow’s milk since European dairy farmers developed a genetic adaptation that enabled them to digest lactase about 7,500 years ago. A high-protein, calorie-dense, versatile beverage, milk is a dietary staple for millions of Americans, and it’s full of calcium and Vitamin D, to boot. Whether your kids drink it by the gallon or you just splash a bit on your oatmeal every morning, here’s a handy guide to the best whole milk available in the Bay Area, with tasting notes for each.

While American milk consumption is down 37% since 1970, the USDA estimates that U.S. residents still consume an average of .8 cups per person each day. But despite recent medical research touting the nutritional benefits of full-fat dairy products, whole milk—the focus of this guide—is still out of favor, down to .24 cups per day, on average, for U.S. consumers.

This may not be the case, however, in the Bay Area, where there’s a tremendous amount of competition among producers of the highest quality sustainable whole milk. We identified six brands that are widely available throughout the Bay Area that meet the criteria for this guide (both sustainable and full-fat) and also taste great, albeit in vastly different ways: Straus Family Creamery, Clover Sonoma, Saint Benoît Creamery, Humboldt Creamery, and two less widely available raw milks worth seeking out, from Claravale and Organic Pastures.

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