Photo Contest: $1000 in Target Gift Cards + fairlife Products, 3 winners
Last month, my family took a trip to Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana. Fair Oaks Farms is the flagship farm for the family owned co-op that produces fairlife milk. Leading up to the trip, fairlife sent us a huge supply of everything they make: their whole milk, skim milk, strawberry milk, protein shakes and most importantly— their chocolate milk.
I must say, their chocolate milk is the most fantastic chocolate milk I have ever tasted. Seriously, try it. It will not disappoint. Mike has also become a wee bit obsessed with the protein shakes. And I have to say, as someone who makes a lot of pancakes, the ones I made with fairlife came out extra fluffy.
To be honest, I hadn’t heard of fairlife before they invited my family to visit their farm, but I was intrigued by their milk stats— it is lactose-free and ultra-filtered with half the sugar and 50% more protein than is found in most standard milks. This is true for their chocolate milk too. While this sounded fishy to me, their filtration process doesn’t add anything, it just filters the milk into five components (water, butterfat, protein, vitamoins & minerals and lactose), and then recombines them in different proportions.
More concentrated protein is particularly helpful with Harlow, who hasn’t drank a glass of milk since she was one but will eat it with her cereal.
I asked around, did lots of research and talked to the owners of Fair Oak Farms (Mike and Sue McCloskey) before we agreed to go.
Sue and Mike were very transparent about what we would see at their farm. They wanted me to understand that it wasn’t a small mom and pop farm with a couple of cows and pigs hanging out in a meadow. Fair Oaks Farms is a modern dairy farm with over 30,000 cows in covered stalls. They talked about sustainability and the fact that they power everything including their trucks with energy made from cow manure. They talked about Mike’s background as a veterinarian and how he is dedicated to ethical treatment of their animals.
At first, I was a little worried about taking the girls to a modern farm. What would they think when they saw cows being milked on a large carousel instead of being milked by hand? What would I think? What would you guys think?
But everything I read and heard about Fair Oaks Farms and fairlife was positive and I realized that perhaps I was being a little sheltered and naive when I imagined my milk coming from Old MacDonald.
We flew to Chicago on a Friday night and drove out to the farm the following day. Turns out, I should not have worried about what Mazzy and Harlow would think because Fair Oaks Farms is set up like a family attraction with a big bouncy trampoline, rope climbing courses and a big bottle of milk that you can rock climb to the top.
Mazzy shocked us all by climbing it over and over again.
We were also able to go into the birthing barn where Mazzy and Harlow got to pet a newborn calf, born just an hour prior.
Then Sue took us personally on a tour of the farm, where we saw the stalls for the calves, barns holding thousands of cows and a huge area where they store all the grains they use to make their cow feed. Everything they feed their cows comes from their own farm so there is never any question about what is going into their animals. The same goes for pasteurization and their cold-filtering system which is also done in-house.
The kids were interested and asked lots of questions like, “Are the cows friends?”
Sue said that yes, the cows often hung out in cliques and there were even “mean girl” cows who bossed around members of their group.
Harlow wanted to know if the cows thought the milking carousel was fun and Sue said they get on and off the carousel voluntarily. She also said that happy cows produce the best quality milk so it is in their best interest to keep their cows healthy and comfortable.
After the tour, we went to their ice cream shop which had THE BEST butter pecan ice cream. It’s a good thing they don’t sell it in stores, because I would probably gain 1000 pounds in a week.
PHOTO CONTEST: One $500 Target gift card + fairlife products, Two $250 Target gift cards + fairlife products
Now that I’ve shown you all my photos from our visit to the farm, I’d love to see all of yours! As incentive, I am giving away one $500 Target gift card and two $250 Target gift cards along with lots of fairlife products! (Hopefully you get some of their chocolate milk in there.)
To enter, just post a photo of your family or your kids at a farm or with a farm animal (cows, goats, chickens, pigs, horses— any of them will do) on the Mommy Shorts Facebook page or on Instagram using the hashtag #photosonthefarm. If you enter on Instagram, you must tag and follow both @mommyshorts and @fairlife.
I’ll be captioning my favorite photos and selecting my top three photos to win the prizes. Those photos could be the funniest, the cutest, the weirdest— we will have to see what comes in! I know I have an AWESOME photo of my mom getting attacked by a llama that I need to dig up. But in the mean time, here’s a baby goat wondering why in the hell I would wear sandals and a skirt to a farm.
Winners will be announced on July 28, 2016 date. Good luck!
This post was sponsored by fairlife, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Hey Ilana! Don’t get tricked by the industry. Please watch this documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nV04zyfLyN4. COWSPIRACY. A new cut from executive producer Leonardo DiCaprio… Have a good day!
Looks like you went to a clean, nice showroom and heard some interesting things. While I don’t doubt that Mike was genuine and that perhaps they do allow cows to go outside (although, did you see cows outside?) The horrifying fact is that the dairy industry is one of the cruelest parts of factory farming. So, why wasn’t the newborn calf with its mother, like all other mammals are after birth? Because the milk produced for that calf (cows only lactate for a baby, just like people do) is being reserved for the human market. Dairy cows are regularly impeegnated by a farmer putting his entire arm up the cow’s vagina to impregnate her via artificial insemination. Then after giving birth, as you saw baby cows are taken from their mothers, which is very cruel to both mother and baby and does not make “happy cows.” If the baby is male they are sent to a veal farm to sit in a tiny crate for a couple of months before being slaughtered. If the calf is a female, she will endure the same fate as her mother, being impregnated over and over, only to never be able to mother her baby, and after 3 or so years sent to slaughter herself.
There are other facts about factory farming that I would like to post, but I hate having to leave you a negative one at all because you are my favorite mom blogger. Please educate yourself on the realities of dairy farming (seriously, you were picked for a publicity stunt and showed a showroom that hides what goes on behind the scenes) and please pull the plug on this sponsorship. Factory farming is horribly cruel and it’s killing the planet, despite this guy claiming to have environmentally friendly practices. Maybe he does a couple of things like that but it doesn’t change the water wasted to raise the crops for the feed and water for the cows, or the gas methane produced by the cows.
Please, don’t do this. I’ve hung by you as more and more of your posts get sponsored but this post is really helping to perpetuate lies, I’m sorry. Watch “Earthlings”, “Cowspiracy,” or any of the videos on dairy farming on the PETA website. Also remember, you were showing your girls cows that ARE destined for the slaughterhouse, even if that’s the only thing that you might be uncomfortable with.
I recently became a vegan after learning about factory farming (and there is a LOT of video evidence now, undercover videos taken in actual operations not showrooms) and this post just killed me. Please, at least look at the evidence presented to the contrary of this little show you were given and make an informed decision about whether or not you want to support factory farming on your blog.
Ellyn, I totally respect where you are coming from and I know you are a longtime reader and commenter so this breaks my heart as well. Just please understand that I did a ton of research on fairlife before I decided to visit the farm and partner with them. I know that milk and dairy farms can be controversial and I weighed whether I wanted to open myself up to that. But I also know that my family drinks milk every day which comes from a dairy farm. Now if you disagree with factory farms or dairy farms in general, that is your view and I respect it. And many farms might have terrible conditions, but in the case of Fair Oaks in particular, everything I read and everyone I asked said that Fair Oaks is a good place that treats their cows really well. Obviously your slaughterhouse comment sounds horrifying, but I eat meat and chicken and bacon, so it feels hypocritical for that to be a reason to fault them. In full disclosure, I was a vegetarian for ten years (and I dabbled in veganism) after I took an environmental ethics class in college, but when I became pregnant with Mazzy, I craved meat and I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t sure my diet was the best thing for my baby. I reintroduced meat slowly and now I eat it quite frequently. I find I am way more fit than when I was a vegetarian with much less stomach issues, which to me means this is the diet appropriate for my body. This is just to say that I take none of this lightly or go into things without a lot of thought and research. One of the things I like about Fair Oaks is that their farm is open to the public. They really seem proud of their practices and offer full transparency. I don’t think factory farms are going away, so I hope that farms like Fair Oaks can help set industry standards that improve treatment of animals and sustainability across the board.
I am a nutritionist and I couldn’t agree with this more. The dairy industry is so huge that it can perpetuate these myths about dairy milk. Not only is it bad for the animals it isn’t even good for our health. A good book about this is Whitewash: The Disturbing Truth About Cow’s Milk and Your Health. Ilana, I love your blog but I just wanted to share this because I think people should get to see the whole truth and unfortunately is easy for the dairy industry to hide all the ugliness.
Hi Ellyn, I’m Sue McCloskey, one of the founders of Fair Oaks Farms, and I was Mazzy and Harlow’s tour guide for their trip to our farm.
First let me say that you are, indeed, a well read fan of Lisa’s blog and, as a writer, I’m sure she appreciates your thoughtful and clear communication. Now with that said, let me have a chance to reply to your thoughts.
Our farm is not a showroom, it’s the real deal, and if you come to visit (and I’m extending a personal invitation) you’ll see for yourself that there’s nothing that we hide. When we decided, in 2003 (way before it was “cool” to be transparent) to open our dairy as part of the visitor experience for Fair Oaks Farms, we knew that we were going to have to show and talk about the good, the bad and the ugly. There were many sleepless nights wondering how our urban neighbors to the North and South would react. We’d been touring our rural friends at our farm in New Mexico for years but these folks grew up with farm animals in their backyards or as neighbors. But we believed in our hearts that we dairy farmers have a good story to tell about caring for our animals and land and providing our families and families across the country with good, delicious nutrition.
It’s funny that you mention PETA because they, along with a number of other acronym-named organizations, were exactly the catalyst that prompted us to open our doors. I think we all know that they have a vegan agenda and are willing to perpetuate myth or emotions to the fact level. There’s not much we can do to change their minds other than what we’re doing, which is trying to have an honest discussion. You might find the following link an interesting read; http://blog.humanesociety.org/wayne/2012/08/farm-shelter-tour.html. In it, Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the USHS, talks about his visit to Fair Oaks Farms. It’s pretty positive about what we are doing and his comment to my husband, Mike, that day was that they would continue to push us to defend our practices in the eyes of the public. And that’s a good thing because it mandates a conversation! And conversation (not yelling) leads to understanding, and understanding leads to empathy, and empathy leads to cooperation. Like Wayne, you may never believe in what I do but you’ll be a participant in how I can do things better. Believe me, I’m all for choice but I’m also all for truth. (Just a quick observation; in the article, Mr Pacelle talks about how sand bedding is more comfortable than concrete as if to infer that dairy farmers actually have concrete bedding areas. If Mr Pacelle has been to two dairy farms in his life he would have heard from both farmers that a cow’s comfort is our top priority and since she’s laying down 12-14 hours/day we would never have her lying on concrete!) There’s a great saying that you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts.
I also take a little offense (just a little, because I’m used to it by now) at your calling me a factory farm. When I’m on the farm, I don’t see any factories, I see people. And whether they be my children or some of the families that came with us when we moved from New Mexico 16 years ago they are families that care about the same things that my husband and I care about; treating our animals with the utmost respect, preserving and improving the land and water that we inhabit and providing many other families an affordable, safe and incredibly nutritious form of sustenance. If I told you that once we were dairy farmers (while still running our dairy vet practice!) with 300 cows in beautiful California would you feel any better about us? Because we were. But the funny thing is that from milking 300 cows to now milking 15,000 cows our morals haven’t changed one bit. As we grew the size of our farms, we also grew our knowledge and experience as to how to do things better: Better care of our cows, better care of our environment and taking a great product and making if even better. Believe in better. That’s not only fairlife’s motto, it’s what we have been doing and the life we have been living for 30 years.
And we’re not done, because we’re not perfect. The unspoken conundrum of believing in better is that you have to acknowledge that becoming better inherently implicates that you’re not doing the best. And that’s ok. We understand that we have to keep pushing ourselves and our industry to keep figuring out ways to aim for that moving target of perfection. And with the advent of technology on the farm level it’s becoming really interesting. For instance, you read about how we create electricity and transportation fuel from our cow’s manure by using anaerobic digesters. On our farms alone, we are saving 2 million gallons of diesel fuel from having to be taken from the earth. The dairy industry is working with a European company that has developed a naturally-sourced feed additive that ties up a majority of the methane that cows belch and actually lets them use it for their body’s own energy demands. We’re also working with a company that will take our processed manure to a pellet form which we can then plant right next to a corn seed thereby giving it the available nitrogen when it needs it and thus displacing chemical fertilizers having to be mined from the earth. I really could go on and on about all of the incredible technological advances that our industry is pushing for and supporting in order to do more with less, the basic tenet of sustainability on a planet with an ever dwindling population of farmers.
And all of this to provide you with a glass of milk…. or a bite of cheese, or a scoop of ice cream, or a bowl of yogurt, or a cup of cottage cheese, or a drink of kefir, or a powder which makes the milk that provides the nutrition for a baby to live in a third world country.
You see, that’s the other conundrum that we have to be careful of. We couldn’t have this discussion, Ellyn, if it weren’t for the fact that you and I got up this morning and didn’t have to worry about where our next meal was coming from. I got up and made my coffee (with fairlife 2%) and opened up my refrigerator and pantry to look at all the food I could choose from. And then I closed them both because I decided I… wasn’t… hungry…yet. How spoiled, how presumptuous, how cavalier we are compared to most of our fellow mankind who do not have the opportunity in deciding whether they want to pay more for a gallon of milk produced by solely grass grazing cows. The majority of us in the U.S. actually have the luxury of deciding what we want for our next meal, when we want that meal, how it was grown/handled/marketed and delivered and we treat that luxury with no more appreciation than taking our next breath. If you’re so inclined, watch this short clip of Tom Vilsack, our Secretary of Agriculture (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjYVTLOJCxo) who basically states, “Every one of us that’s not a farmer, is not a farmer because we have farmers. We delegate the responsibility of feeding our families to a relatively small percentage of this country…”. Try having a discussion about the morality of raising farm animals to provide sustenance for humans with a poor mother in India or Africa or with the people of Venezuela who now riot because of lack of food. We have to be careful and thoughtful that our prejudices don’t do harm to those who are simply trying to survive.
And, so, to wrap up my thoughts about your response, Ellyn, I can only say that I truly respect your right to your opinion but hope that you’ll respect my passion and deep belief that what I, and a lot of fellow farmers, do for our world and society is a service. And we do it because it’s a calling. Believe me, as is evidenced by the ever dwindling number of farmers, it’s not an easy life. Relying on forces beyond our control (weather and markets), having to manage the fickleness of people and equipment and animals every… single…..day is a task for Job. And then to be slandered and accused by people whom you don’t even know, well, it’s no wonder that there are fewer and fewer farmers.
I can only hope that I might have shed some light on to the other side of the fence. I know that you have statements and opinions that I didn’t address but, honestly, I hope that some day we could sit down across a table after touring our farm and have a discussion about those…. while having a nice cold glass of fairlife, of course.
I had wanted to try their chocolate milk, but quickly saw sucralose on the ingredient list. The addition of sucralose seems to go against what the brand is trying to represent…
You are so brave for dabbling into this controversial subject!! Go you!! I am not even brave enough to stick my neck out about controversial issues at a family dinner. I try to stay educated about products as a consumer, but the truth is that despite all of the information that is available this day and age, as a busy working mom it’s almost impossible to keep up with it all. We do our best. What else can we do? I know you are under a microscope as a blogger and a proponent of these companies and I’m sure some are not perfect….but neither are we!! Thank you for being a careful and CARING marketer and human!! Can’t wait to dig out my hilarious bunny petting/terrified face photo to share. Seriously how can you be afraid of a fat fluffy bunny!?!
Harlow and Mazzy look like they had a great time! And, regardless of how controversial this issue is, it’s great that you were able to expose your girls to farm life, if only for one day. It’s important to educate our children about everything in our world, controversial or otherwise.
And delicious butter pecan ice cream?! What a bonus!!
My first thought looking at that photo of the cows was how high on the legs manure was splattered, even on the outsides of their legs. I can’t imagine any situation where the manure isn’t getting into the milk, that it would be splattered on the teats and get in the milking machine. Also, it seemed not awesome your kids were petting a just born calf… I can’t imagine the mom was super excited having strangers touch her just born baby, unless she was already seperated from it. I love your site, but if this is a best case situation for the animals, it isn’t a very good one.
God bless a baby cow!
While I personally didn’t like some of the aspects with the treatment of the cows, I do not see it negatively affecting my view of you or your blog. I drink milk and do not know of any dairy farm that is run differently than this. But hey, aren’t there issues with any mass production of a product? Anyway, the farm looked extremely fun for you guys. I bet it was a good trip and the girls seemed to enjoy themselves from what I saw on snapchat. I like enter the contest but I don’t have Facebook and my IG is private. I do however have a picture of me feeding a bird that I think you would enjoy….because I’m terrified of birds. Just imagine it, a bird landing on my shoulder and head. LOL
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