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When and why was Maple Hill Creamery founded?
Maple Hill Creamery was founded in 2009 with the simple desire to make the healthiest yogurt we could for our kids, using certified organic milk from our own 100% grass-fed family cows (read more about our journey and philosophy).
Over the past few years, we’ve grown from a completely family-run operation to a thriving small manufacturer of whole milk, European-style yogurt. Although we’ve brought on production, sales, and marketing staff, everyone in the family still pitches in on a daily basis, and are central to decisions big and small.
What are 100% grass-fed cows?
Cows that are 100% grass-fed graze when the grasses and other native plants grow, and eat hay (stored grass) in the winter months--oftentimes harvested from same pastures they graze on.
What are the main differences between feeding cows a mixed ration of grain-based feed, and 100% grass-feeding?
Simply put, when dairy farmers choose to raise cows with managed grazing techniques, and when cows are fed the diet they evolved to eat, the end result is healthier animals, healthier farms, and healthier dairy products.
Let’s start with the cows, which are by definition ruminants. They have a four-chambered stomach called the rumen, which is designed to digest fibrous grasses and other plants. When grain and corn (quickly-digested carbohydrates with much less fiber) is fed to cows, it changes the pH of the rumen, making it more acidic and changing the normal, healthy gut flora of the cow. This can result in infection, inflammation, bloat, decreased immunity, and a host of other health issues and chronic diseases. Cows were meant to eat grass—not grain or corn.
Next is the farm operation itself. Managed grazing requires less fossil fuels, because the feed is not grown, processed, and shipped to the farm—the food is already there, growing, and is eaten by the cows in a rotation that keeps the grasslands healthy and growing. Growing corn and grain specifically for cattle feed uses huge amounts of non-renewable resources, and, unless certified organic, chemical pesticides as well.
On a grass-fed operation, the cow's manure is spread over the pastures, helping replace nutrients lost by the growing plants. Farms with managed grazing have less erosion and nutrient run off due to the fact that the permanent grasslands bind the soil and absorb the nutrients deposited by the cows (manure!) In addition the process of managed grazing fixes carbon in the soil increasing the overall fertility and productivity of the land.
Why do most dairy farmers choose to feed their cows a non-grass-based diet?
“Conventional Wisdom” says that feeding dairy cows grain and corn increases milk production and therefore the farmer’s bottom line. Perhaps this was the case 50 – 60 years ago, but unfortunately for most farmers this no longer appears to be true. Many family farms (both conventional and certified organic) are stuck on a treadmill--feeding high priced grain and corn to their cows while trying to produce more milk, to cover ever higher rising bills, with an ever-shrinking milk check.
When did farmers start feeding grain to an animal that was really built for grass? And why?
As in most things, one thing always leads to another. And “the thing” that probably put American agriculture on the path to feeding grain to ruminants had nothing to do with agriculture, but more to do with war, specifically WWII.
How do I know if I am getting 100% grass fed dairy products?
Currently, there is no provision or certification system for grass-fed dairy labeling in the US. As the popularity of grass-fed dairy products grows, more and more companies will use a "grass-fed" claim on their labels. However, with no guidelines for dairy products in place, a “grass-fed” label claim can be placed on a product that is 90% grain-fed. In short, "grass-fed" is at risk of becoming empty marketing jargon, much like "natural" has in the consumer packaged goods industry.
Where can I learn more about 100% grass-fed dairy farming?
Please check out our “Why Grass?” infographic to learn about the huge impact 100% grass fed organic farming can have on animals, food systems, farm families, and the environment.
Is ALL the milk used to make Maple Hill Creamery yogurt from 100% grass-fed cows?
Yes! Every drop of milk used to make our yogurt is from 100% grass-fed cows. Our farms pledge to keep their cows on pasture only in the grazing season, and fed only hay and some minerals in the winter.
Why don't you make low-fat or non-fat products? Isn't fat bad for you?
The milk fat from 100% grass-fed cows is very different from the fat from cows fed corn and grain. It has a balanced omega 3 to omega 6 ratio. Milk from cows fed a traditional ration of hay, corn, and grain have a ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 of up to 5:1 (5 parts Omega 6 to 1 part Omega 3). This imbalance and higher level of Omega 6 fats has been conclusively linked to a number of inflammatory and chronic diseases in humans. Feeding cows their diet of grass, and nothing but grass, the ratio returns to closer to 1:1, which happens to be the ratio that is optimal for health in humans.
What is the creamline in your yogurt? Why is it there?
The “cream on top” of our yogurt is a layer of milk fat that rises as the yogurt cools and settles during our slow culturing process. This occurs naturally when milk is NOT homogenized (an unnecessary cosmetic step in dairy processing that we choose to skip). Sometimes the cream on top of your cup may be broken instead of smooth, due to jostling or slight temperature changes during shipping. It's still perfectly fine to eat--just stir it in and enjoy.
Is your milk pasteurized?
Yes, our milk is pasteurized using standard legal pasteurization techniques. In fact, true yogurt can only be made with milk that has been heated to a high temperature, by breaking down proteins and then "reassembling" into the semi-solid product we call yogurt.
What farms does your milk come from?
As of the autumn season of 2013, we have seven family farms, all within 75 miles from our manufacturing facility in Stuyvesant, New York. About half of our farms are Amish farms. Please visit Our Farms if you're interested in learning more about these dedicated grass farmers, their families, and their amazing cows.
Are there any allergens in your yogurt or manufactured in your facility?
Our manufacturing plant is a dedicated dairy processing facility and is free of the following common food allergens: soy, nuts, tree nuts, peanuts, gluten, and shellfish.
Are you Kosher?
Yes, our yogurt is certified OU Kosher.
How do you flavor the non-plain yogurt varieties?
We flavor our Vanilla, Lemon, and Orange Crème varieties with real, organic extracts (rather than “natural” flavors that are often made with petrochemicals to cheaply replicate the real thing). All of our extracts are made using grain alchohol dervied from organic wheat (not corn). However, there are no glutens left after the distillation process / is gluten-free.
Your yogurt isn't very sweet! Is it low sugar?
We don't add much sugar to our yogurt, as we believe any sweetener or flavor should subtly enhance the zingy, fresh flavor of Maple Hill, not mask it. We also believe in transparency in food labeling, so here’s a helpful breakdown for added sugar in our yogurt:
In each six-ounce serving of Maple Hill, 8 grams of the carbohydrate content come from the naturally occurring lactose in the milk. The remaining grams of carbohydrate content come from added organic sugar, pure maple syrup, fruit puree, or combination thereof.
We add the equivalent of 2.6 teaspoons (11 grams) of sugar to our Vanilla, Lemon, and Orange Crème flavors (each totals 17 - 18 grams of carbohydrates).
We add the equivalent of 2.85 teaspoons of pure maple syrup to our Maple flavor (18 grams of carbohydrates total). We use only maple syrup to sweeten and flavor this variety.
We add the equivalent of 2.6 teaspoons (11grams) of sugar to our Wild Blueberry flavor, with the 3 grams of carbohydrates coming from the berry puree (22 grams of carbohydrate total).
Why is your yogurt so tangy / earthy tasting?
Maple Hill is a “yogurt eater’s yogurt”: fresh, zingy, tart, and a distinctly stronger flavor than most yogurt sold in the U.S., because of our milk and our culture process.
Do you add any thickeners or stabilizers to your yogurt?
Nope. We don’t add guar gum, milk protein powder, pectin, carrageenan, or other commonly used yogurt additives that 95% of US yogurt manufacturers add to their products. Maple Hill’s luxuriously creamy texture is the result of our slow culture process and our high-quality, full-fat, 100% grass-fed milk.
Do you add any preservatives to your yogurt?
No, we never add any preservatives to our yogurt.
What cultures are added to your yogurt?
We use the following cultures: Bifidobacterium lactis, lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp., Bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus.
What is the difference between your regular yogurt and drinkable yogurt?
The yogurt inside our 6-ounce cups and our 12-ounce drinkable container is exactly the same. We offer the 12-ounce drinkable for convenience, portability, and sharing.
Is your yogurt GMO-free?
Yes, our yogurt is free from GMOs. Most organic dairy processors can circumvent GMOs by obtaining milk from farmers who purchase and feed their cows only organic grains (in addition to the 30% grazing requirement for certified organic dairy).
Where can I buy Maple Hill?
We’re pleased to say that we're quickly increasing our distribution throughout the US!
What is the shelf life of your yogurt?
The shelf life is 60 days from manufacture date, which is printed across the foil lid.
How can I get Maple Hill in my store?
Maple Hill Creamery products can be ordered through several national as well as numerous regional distributors. Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.