PETALUMA, Calif.–Straus Family Creamery publishes its annual Sustainability Report to a public audience in its tenth year of reporting through the Sustainable Food Trade Association. Straus’ goal is to inspire other businesses in farming and food production to replicate environmental stewardship practices in their communities. The report captures the company’s progress in agricultural innovation, climate change mitigation, and the advancement of its mission to help sustain family farms while protecting the planet, local economies, and the people who live and work in the community.
The COVID-19 pandemic, combined with an early and devastating start to wildfire season, floods, and hurricanes have created abrupt challenges that have tested the ability of the country’s food system to function in the face of disruptions to production, the supply chain, and distribution. Emerging from this pandemic and the historic disasters are lessons on how to reprioritize the way American society uses, shares, and values its resources—especially how food is harvested, produced, and the repercussions it has on an increasingly unstable climate.
Decades before the twin crises of climate change and COVID-19, the Straus business model emphasized environmental, economic, and community resilience. As described in its new Sustainability Report, environmental stewardship is core to the Straus’ mission-driven climate change strategy. Sustainability is a founding principle, and core value of the company, and organic farming practices are foundational to all of its sustainability efforts.
Founder and CEO Albert Straus grew up working on the family farm alongside his parents, Bill and Ellen Straus, and took over management of the farm in the late 1970s. He prioritized innovative farming practices and pastureland management to improve soil health, increase carbon storage, and reduce environmental impact. The Straus Dairy Farm became the first organic dairy farm in the Western United States, and today, the farm models regenerative farming practices that can be replicated on any organic or pastured-based dairy farm or farming system.
A study from UC Davis climate scientists notes that in 21st Century California, grasslands are more reliable carbon sinks than forests. Grassland ecosystems are dependent upon grazing to activate the lifecycle of perennial grasses, and modern science-based managed grazing strategies are an efficient means of replicating this natural process. Managed livestock grazing is an essential land management tool that can help reduce catastrophic wildfire risk or fire intensity while also cycling nutrients through the soil and fostering healthy wildlife habitat.
Managed livestock grazing and other climate-smart practices are time-honored methods in sustainable farming communities throughout the world. These practices include applying compost on pastures to increase the organic matter, moisture retention, and nutrients. When soils have more organic matter, greater water retention and receive proper nutrition, they naturally increase the volume of pasture production. Other climate-smart practices include implementing intensive rotational animal grazing to maximize pasture growth, planting windbreaks and hedgerows to reduce soil erosion, and planting perennial grasses to deepen underground root systems.
“I believe organic dairy farming can be one of the primary solutions to climate change and that sustainable organic agriculture can create economically viable opportunities for dairy farmers while balancing the world’s ecosystem,” said Albert Straus. “We need managed livestock grazing to protect our farmland and open spaces.”
Evaluating the impact of its mission, the newly released 2019 Sustainability Report quantifies, measures and illustrates the company’s environmental, social and economic impacts and shares its progress toward a carbon-neutral farming goal that will be implemented on the Straus Dairy Farm by 2022. Report highlights include:
- Welcoming three new next-generation organic family farms to the Straus independent supplier group
- Diverting 93% of waste away from landfilland the environment to earn TRUE® Zero Waste Certification
- Sourcing 100% renewable, zero-carbon electricity to power the Marshall Creamery
- Saving 180,000 gallons of water with drought-resistant landscaping at their offices
- Receiving 3.2 million glass milk bottles returned by Straus customers to be reused
“Being able to work closely with an innovative company that blazes truly new paths of sustainability is not an opportunity that comes up every day. For over a decade, the Sustainable Food Trade Association has been lucky to count Straus Family Creamery within our membership. We have learned from their innovation, celebrated their success, and helped chart their progress through annual sustainability reporting using the SFTA Sustainability Framework,” said Lisa Spicka, interim executive director. “Their new public sustainability report reflects years of careful measurement, trials, and successes.”
Recognizing the company’s climate mitigation innovation in a first-of-its kind partnership to supply BMW Group with cow-to-car electricity for BMW Group’s electric vehicles in California, Fast Company named Albert Straus as one of 2020’s Most Creative People in Business.The program lauds individuals who used their innovative thinking to make an impact on the world beyond financial success.
Straus Family Creamery
Based in Marshall, CA, Straus Family Creamery is a Northern California, certified organic creamery offering minimally processed milk, cream, yogurt, butter, sour cream, ice cream, and a variety of wholesale and specialty dairy products distributed throughout the Western United States. The Creamery makes minimally processed dairy products from organic milk supplied by family farms in Marin and Sonoma Counties, including the Straus Dairy Farm, which is the first certified organic dairy farm west of the Mississippi River. Straus Family Creamery, the first 100 percent certified organic creamery in the United States, continues to make business decisions based on its mission to help sustain family farms, revitalize rural communities, and protect the environment. The family-owned business sustains collaborative relationships with the family farms that supply it milk, offering stable prices and predictability in what can otherwise be a volatile marketplace. Learn about the Straus difference at StrausFamilyCreamery.com and join us on social here. Straus Family Creamery is a member of the Sustainable Food Trade Association, which serves as a hub for businesses to learn, report, improve performance, and share best practices. SFTA’s mission is to build the capacity of the organic food trade to transition to sustainable business models.Albert Straus, who believes that livestock have an essential role in reversing climate change, joins Fast Company’s 11th annual Most Creative in Business list of 74 individuals from such companies as Google, Netflix, and Patagonia, as well as institutions such as Johns Hopkins University and the ACLU of Massachusetts.