In The Cheese Conundrum I lamented the difficulty of finding dairy products from well-raised cows. I continue to lament how difficult it is to trace any our food to its source. But whereismymilkfrom.com actually does get you pretty close. You type in the little code stamped on the carton or jug (cheese, yogurt, and sour cream have codes too), and it tells you which dairy it came from.
Different brands of milk often come from the same dairy, possibly even the same cow. The site’s information is from the Interstate Milk Shippers list, which is published by the FDA in conjunction with the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Public Health Service. Notice the USDA does not involve itself here, but that’s another lament.
You might find that despite the “pastoral”-looking packaging, your milk came from a factory farm in the Midwest owned by Conagra, one of the more evil corporations of its kind. Or you might find that it came from Berkeley Farms, which buys milk from different small California farmers and whose web site claims the cows are pasture-raised.
Of course, the information provided on a company’s web site can be vague or misleading. Most have “contact us” links where you can ask for more detailed information about how the cows are raised. If they ignore your questions, there’s your answer.