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Straus Family Creamery celebrates its 20th anniversary as it looks to grow its commitment to sustainability in the next 20 years
Albert Straus to dedicate his time to affect social change in the farming community and regional food system
Petaluma, Calif., March 25, 2014 – Straus Family Creamery, the artisan dairy producer in Northern California known for its minimally processed, organic dairy products, is celebrating its 20th anniversary. On February 7, 1994, Founder & CEO Albert Straus stood amid his family members in the first 100% organic certified creamery in the United Sates and bottled the first crate of milk under the Straus label.
Albert Straus had a vision of a farming model based on good stewardship of the land and sustainable practices, ideas not universally supported by the times. Going organic was the first step for Albert Straus to fulfill this vision and was a way to survive a dairy industry in transition: The number of family dairies in California was declining rapidly and prices for milk often did not cover the cost of production. Large dairy operations were emerging which relied on chemical fertilizers and purchased feed. Family farmers, who traditionally had their cows on pasture during the grazing season, could not compete in this volatile marketplace. Relying on the decisions of large milk processors left many farmers without security or predictability.
Albert Straus transitioned his family’s dairy from conventional to organic with the help of an independent certifier, to comply with organic standards in California. His fellow dairymen were stunned by his decision at the time, but soon some started to see the opportunity the organic market offered. Today, Straus Family Creamery sources its organic milk from eight local, certified organic, family farms in Marin and Sonoma Counties, all of which have converted to organic to join the Straus family group of suppliers.
“What I am most pleased with is that so many dairies are now certified organic and that our model has helped level off their decline in Marin and Sonoma counties,” says Albert Straus, “For many farms, going organic is the only way to survive and we now see that 75% of all dairies in our area are certified organic.”
Every decision Albert Straus makes at his family dairy and the creamery is geared with an eye to the future. In the next twenty years, the company intends to grow on the foundation of its existing sustainability programs that include reusable glass bottles, water reuse, renewable energy, and waste reduction.
To enable Albert Straus to commit more of his time to his passion of supporting family farms and affecting change in the food system, a recent organizational transition took place at Straus Family Creamery. Robert McGee, the former COO/CFO, now serves in the role of President, overseeing operations, finance, human resources, sales and marketing. Albert Straus has assumed the title of Founder & CEO and is increasingly dedicating his time to the company’s advocacy work.
Revitalizing the farming community in Northern California will be the main focus on Albert Straus’ work. At the top of his agenda is addressing issues related to entry into farming for young farmers, succession planning, availability of rural housing, and access to credit, technical assistance and education.
Albert Straus and the creamery will continue advocate for the removal of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from the food system, by supporting ongoing GMO labeling initiatives. “To maintain the integrity of the organic label, I would like to see the implementation of a verified GMO testing system within the organic standards,” says Albert Straus, “After twenty years, the organic journey goes on and I look forward to the next twenty years on this path.”
About Straus Family Creamery
Straus Family Creamery is a Northern California, certified organic, artisan creamery offering cream-top milk, yogurt, butter, ice cream, sour cream and a variety of wholesale and specialty dairy products distributed throughout Northern California. Based in Marshall, CA, Straus Family Creamery makes its minimally-processed dairy products from organic milk supplied by a handful of family farms in Marin and Sonoma Counties, including the Straus family dairy. Straus Family Creamery sustains collaborative relationships with dairy farmers, offering stable prices and predictability in what is, otherwise, a volatile marketplace.
Always a pioneer, in 1994, the Straus family dairy was the first to be certified organic in the Western United States. In 2010, the Straus Family Creamery became the first creamery in the nation to be Non-GMO Project Verified. Straus Family Creamery bases business decisions upon environmental and ecological considerations, grounded in sustainable, organic family farming. It does this for the health and well-being of the company, farmers, employees and the community it serves.