Some friends in my Twitter stream (Noemi, -R-, Elisabeth, Jonna, Erin, Kelly) were complaining about the price of milk today. Noemi said she's paying $7/gallon, and I was appalled at the cost of milk in southern California. Appalled! She said it was for organic, growth-hormone-free milk, which made it a bit better, but I was still very confident that milk is far cheaper here. "I can get store-brand organic milk, and I bet it's only $3ish per half gallon," I said. And then I promised to check at the grocery store today and report back.
I am horrifically bad at grocery shopping. I can't remember how much ANYTHING costs, and I often forget to compare prices based on unit cost. For example, milk. I thought $7/gallon was outrageous, but was apparently fine with $3/half gallon even though most basic arithmetic reveals that $3/half gallon is only $1 less than $7/gallon. And upon further investigation at the grocery store, I found out I was half right. Horizon Organic Milk is $5.98/gallon, or $3/half gallon, just like I thought the store brand was. But here's the thing: the store brand is is $6.39/gallon. And when I have been buying organic milk, I've been buying the store brand based on the assumption that it is cheaper! I never checked! I hate it when I am an idiot.
But I actually pay way more for milk than that because I have it delivered from a local farm so that I won't have to carry it home, and so that I'm buying local, which I like. We get it in returnable glass quarts because it pleases me to feel smug and earth-friendly-like. However, this conversation has caused me to do some math, and it turns out I am paying organic-milk prices for non-organic milk. The farm does offer organic milk for delivery, but not in glass quarts. So I might rethink the whole earth-friendly thing.
I learned one final interesting tidbit: Several of my friends can only get hormone-free milk in its organic form; if they don't want milk from growth-hormone-treated cows, they have to buy organic. I, on the other hand, was unable to find any milk in the store at all that did not claim to be growth-hormone-free. This was true even of the store-brand regular milk, at $2.99/gal.
So here are my findings. All prices are the cheapest per/gallon rates I could find; regular milk comes in gallons so that's obviously cheaper per gallon than the same milk in quarts, but organic milk only comes in half gallons.
At the grocery store:
Stonyfield farm organic milk: $7.38/gal
Store-brand organic milk: $6.38/gal
Horizon organic milk: $5.98/gal
Regular milk: $2.99/gal
At the farm, available for delivery*:
Organic milk: $8.40/gal (in plastic half-gallons)
Regular milk: $5.98/gal (in plastic half-gallons)
Regular milk: $6.40/gal (in returnable glass quarts)
*Plus delivery which depends on the order total. For me, delivery is $4.25 for 6 quarts of milk, 1 quart of cream.
So it looks like I'm paying $0.42/gal to save the earth with reusable glass bottles. I order 1.5 gallons a week, so that's a total of $0.63 extra. That's not too terrible, I guess. I'm also spending quite a bit more to have local milk, but buying local milk in reusable bottles is worth something to me.
However. I think we are going to have to stop having the milk delivered. I'm spending $150/year on milk delivery charges. That is kind of a lot, especially given that Andrew pretty much drives by the farm store on his way home from work.
Ah, well, milk delivery was nice while it lasted.