Dairy Standard FAQ

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Why can’t I find my favorite yogurt? 

  • We have revised our Naturally Raised Dairy Standard and are completing a year-long phase out process.
  • The products no longer on our shelves did not meet this new standard.


What are Natural Grocers Naturally Raised Dairy Standard?

  • The cornerstone of our dairy standard has not changed: no growth hormones, including Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH)
  • No confinement dairies
  • Must come from pasture-based dairies – the animals must graze on growing pasture for at least 120 days during grazing season
  • No non-therapeutic or off-label use of drugs, including antibiotics
  • No GMO alfalfa
  • Improved nutrient content


Be sure to check out our chart that matches up discontinued products to new products that are similar; you may find some new favorites!


What is a confinement dairy and why are they problematic? 

  • Animals are confined to a barn, a dirt yard or both.
  • They do not graze on fresh, growing pasture.
  • Animals are fed a predominately grain and soy-based diet and some dried forage materials, all of which may come from GMO crops.
  • Many are also fed animal by-products (feces, bone/blood meal etc).
  • The animals are often made sick by this unnatural diet and confinement.
  • Increased illness requires increased use of antibiotics and other drugs, including anti-inflammatories and tranquilizers.
  • The manure containing these antibiotics and other drugs is washed out into manure lagoons, which extract a heavy toll on soil, water, and air quality and contribute to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.
  • Almost 1/3 are culled annually, to be made into hamburger.
  • Over 80% of dairy cows are in confinement dairies.
  • This negatively impacts the nutrient content of dairy products: imbalances omega 6 to 3 ratio, reduces CLA, reduces fat-soluble vitamins A, E, K2 & carotenes.


Why is Natural Grocers changing their dairy standard now?

  • As soon as we become aware of an issue, we thoughtfully analyze it so that we can take appropriate action.
  • There has been a convergence of factors hitting the dairy industry over the last 15 years: deregulation, GMO crops, rBGH.
  • These changes have resulted in the surreptitious growth of confinement dairies in general, and their incursion into the natural food sector specifically.
  • Ultimately, this has created a system whereby most farmers have no choice but be involved with and dependent on the confinement system.
  • We felt we had to draw a simple, clear-cut line and provide a market that allows farmers to choose sustainable dairy practices.


What about genetically modified organisms (GMOs)?

  • By addressing confinement dairies, we can also partially address GMOs. Animals aren’t eating as many grains, their primary source of GMOs. Instead, they are grazing on pasture, which reduces the amount of GMOs in their diet.
  • If we only address GMOs, we still have all the issues remaining with confinement dairies: confinement, poor health of animals, antibiotics, reduced nutrient quality, etc.
  • We cannot guarantee that our Naturally Raised Dairy products are GMO free, unless they have been verified by a reliable third party and bear that certification on their packaging.
  • Organic Dairy products are GMO-free (within a very small tolerance). Organic regulations prevent use of GM feed and drugs in organic products.


Are there major brands that customers should expect to see discontinued? (Brown Cow, Chobani, Fage, Greek Gods, Liberte, Mountain High, Siggis, Lifeway Non-Organic Kefirs, Kozy Shack Puddings, Noosa)

  • Yes. Some brands may come back as they change their practices. We hope so; we love our suppliers and we think that our new standard will provide them with a market that allows farmers to choose sustainable practices, such as pasturing animals.
  • We started with yogurts/kefirs/puddings and moved on to cottage cheeses/sour creams/specialty, then ice creams/frozen yogurts, then cheese. Milk and butter will not be affected – we only carry organic or pasture-based products.


Can I special order one of the brands you removed? 

  • Unfortunately not. While we always try to accommodate our customers and special order products for them, in this case it would undermine our company goal of creating a market for pasture-based products. A robust market for naturally-raised dairy products will allow farmers the opportunity to choose sustainable dairy practices – such as pasturing animals and non-GMO feed.

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